Friday, December 9, 2011

Nelson Lakes NP Hiking/Packrafting


The plan was simple, pack six days food and explore the northern part of Nelson Lakes National Park by foot and packraft, with the hope of floating sections of the Durville, Sabine and Travers rivers. And as sometimes happens on trips to the mountains the simple plan had to be modified somewhat. The weather is more often than not the reason itineraries need to be modified..but not this time.






I'm ok with altering plans because of the weather, in fact, dealing with the variables of mountain weather is part of the appeal. But gear failure? It just shouldn't happen. And not to XA Pros! As it turns out the bond that failed between the upper and midsole on the heel of my left shoe,(on the first day), didn't extend all the way through and held together for the duration of our altered five day adventure. Let me be clear. In the last seven years I have owned more than a dozen pairs of Salomon XA Pros, all have performed perfectly, I'll be getting another pair. The original plan was to hike up the Travers Valley crossing Travers Saddle into the Sabine, then head south over Moss Pass and float out to Lake Rotoroa on the Durville River. On the second day, after crossing Travers Saddle, my shoe had gotten slightly worse, so we decided not to risk heading further into the mountains where a total shoe failure would make things a little too interesting. So we headed down the Sabine Valley floating some sections and hiking some down to Sabine Hut. Then we turned to the east, crossing the Travers Range via Mt Cedric and Hukere Stream back into the Travers Valley where we floated out to Lake Rotoiti before hiking back to St Arnaud. 




When asked for advice on where to go hiking in New Zealand's South Island I typically recommend one of my favourite areas in the south. Of course Fiordland, Mt Aspiring, Mt Cook and Arthurs Pass national parks, and lots of other areas in between, all feature deep wilderness, spectacular scenery and a lifetimes worth of adventures. Although this end of the southern alps isn't quite as high and dramatic as further south, I found the peaks, valleys, lakes and ridges every bit as enticing.






Gear musings : 


Alpacka Packrafts - These things are a revelation. The rivers were high on this trip, some sections  class III and IV and only for the more experienced. We didn't have spraydecks, PFDs or helmets which was a mistake. 


Packrafting Packs - I use light frameless packs for pure hiking trips, these work very well with loads up to 10 kg. A six day trip with a packraft and paddle means a load up around 15kg which requires a more supportive pack. I carried a Black Diamond Quantum 65, comfortable with heavy loads and big enough to swallow a packraft, four piece paddle, gear and a weeks worth of food. 


MLD Spirit Quilt 30 - Sleeping bags are dead to me ( at least for temps above freezing). Quilts are so much more comfortable than a bag.


The Stickpic - Get one. Film stuff.


Footwear - NZ hiking generally means wading streams. The fastest draining, quickest drying shoes are highly recommended. Use waterproof socks for packrafting and snow walking if it is cold. I think the drainage could be improved on XA Pros and Slab Wings. The stiff midsole on the XA Pro makes it a great choice for the heavier loads required for packrafting trips.


Stoves - I used a Caldera Cone on this trip which worked perfectly but the cone is on the way out. I got to check out a french guy's Jetboil Sol Ti, the future of gas stoves I'd say.


The gear list is here.











Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stuff To Do In Summer

 Summer has arrived in SE Qld. Even the shortest missions on bike and foot will cost you litres of sweat. Accept it.

The all day runs, rides and climbs become a little less appealing and going for a paddle or a surf or any activity that results in getting wet becomes more and more appealing. Which is great, spending time on (in) the sea makes for a nice contrast to the cooler months of the year spent mostly in the craggy, dry scrub further west. 

For those that crave trails though, summer can still be fun season if you adjust the timing of your adventures and/or plan them around water. With a bit of creativity minimal time can be spent on the couch over the long, hot summer.


The trip I did last night with Jalal and Frances up to Tibro makes a great summer mini adventure. This is one of my after work favourites. 

First, make a stop on the way to pick up a tasty snack to eat while you take a break before the descent, (cheese and veg pancake and sweet potato wedges from Kwan Yin are highly recommended). Next, drive to Tibro and park at the western carpark, from here its a short jog on the super highway around to the east side, take the climbers trail up to the east face.  From here climb the Caves route - description - up to a perfect flat slab on the north east shoulder for dinner. Chill out for a minute in the cool breeze that usually blows up here before heading up to the summit and descending via the hikers route back to your car. Around one and a half hours total.




We had two snake encounters last night, the first was this beautifully marked Carpet snake, the next with a Brown snake. I've already seen several over the last couple of months, looks like it could be big snake season.







Monday, October 10, 2011

KEEP IT SIMPLE



It struck me how quick and simple packing for an overnighter has become as I put together a kit for a leisurely weekend at Barney. The simplicity, size and extreme lightness of modern ultralight gear seems to have made this even more obvious. Although I've used gear that is fairly close to the lightest available for several years now, it still gives me a buzz being able to achieve a sub four kilo base weight without sacrificing functionality and comfort. Of course, being able to pack for a weekend in the wilds quickly and at short notice is also a function of organisation and practice. All the gear I typically pack for a local trip all sits ready to go on a shelf in the wardrobe. Ready to go means all the small details like a complete cook system, (fuel excluded) first aid kit and guy lines attached to tarp. 





Pack, tarp, bivy, food, cook system, quilt, sleeping mat, warm clothing, rain jacket, first aid/toiletries/headlamp and water bottles.






Shelter simplicity = a tarp and bivy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

LOGAN'S/SE RIDGE LOOP

Stormy skies over Barney, shot taken from near Mt Cordeaux on Saturday.

Mt Barney has long been one of my favourite places to walk/run and the fantastic morning I spent there today, doing one of the classic Barney loops, just confirmed what an awesome area this is for travelling on foot. 

I was wondering if this mission was going to happen at all on Saturday evening as a spectacular storm moved over the mountains and lashed the van with strong winds and rain. The rain was short lived though and I awoke to perfectly clear skies and a cool breeze, ideal conditions and a welcome change from my last hot and hazy Barney walk two weeks before.

I had decided to push a little today, as I crossed the Logan River and trotted across the paddock my legs seemed to be responding well so I kept up a pretty steady pace. This didn't last, as I hit the steep hiking on the lower slopes of the ridge proper my pace took a dramatic dive, I really didn't care though, I was just happy to be moving in the mountains on such an amazing day.

Looking north from the summit.

Logan's Ridge is short and steep, climbing a 1000m in around three km, it leads directly to Barney's 1350m East Peak. I stopped the watch at the summit marker in 1:51 which I was happy with considering my current fitness level and several photo stops. There was a cold wing blowing on the summit so I put on my wind shirt while I hung around for ten minutes taking in the view and having a bite to eat.

When I got cold I took off down the SE Ridge which felt very low angled after Logan's. As usual my knees protested a bit but before long I was jogging down the last section to the fireroad on Cronin Creek and back through the paddocks to Yellow Pinch for a total time of 3:18. An awesome day on an awesome mountain!

Clear skies to the south over Ernest and Lindesay.

Splits -
Start - Parks sign at Yellow Pinch
Summit - 1hr51min
Campsite 10 on Cronin Creek - 2hr58min
End Yellow Pinch - 3hr18min



Monday, August 15, 2011

A COOLOOLA CLASSIC

First light on the river.

Even after coming to Cooloola at least once or twice a year since the early nineties this park still impresses me. I love everything about it, the still black water, grasstrees, huge scribbly gums and pure white sand. 

I started this day with the classic paddle/run from Elanda Point to the Cooloola sandpatch and back. This involves a 20km return paddle to Harry's Hut and a 24km return run from Harry's to the sandpatch. Lake Cootharaba was dead flat with not a breath of wind as I paddled  into the darkness, an almost full moon just setting behind me. It was light by the time I made it to the narrows with textbook reflections which I had to resist stopping to photograph constantly. Just as I pulled my boat up onto the bank opposite Harry's the rain belted down for maybe two minutes, long enough to soak me. I felt a little chilled so started the run pretty fast to warm up and before long I was climbing up towards the sandpatch. Although this little climb is low angled, the soft sand makes it feel much harder so I walked it to save my calves for the ride later on.

Looking back towards the lake from near the sandpatch.

I made good time on the mostly flat run back to Harry's and I was soon cruising through the narrows and across the lake, where I passed the only other paddlers I'd seen, finishing up right on 5hr30min.

After a very slow switch to the bike, Danno joined me for a 40ish km ride out through some of the Noosa trail network tracks, eventually finishing up in Noosa. We rode some really nice singletrack (mostly trail 4) as well as some dirt roads and bitumen. I'm keen to get back and explore the trails more in this area, some of which could be linked up with climbs of local peaks.

Looking south from Twin View lookout.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Boonah-Mt Ernest-Boonah



As we left Boonah on our bikes I assured Liam that there was no need for a map, "I knew the Barney area well". Seven hours later on a moonless night as we forced our way through heavy scrub looking for a route down Mt Ernest this seemed ridiculous. It had been many years since I'd been on Mt Ernest and that was on a nice sunny day with visibility for miles in all directions. 

I reckon the ride from Boonah down to Mt Barney is one of the nicest road rides around, with views of all the big scenic rim peaks and very little traffic. My GPS read 54km by the time we rolled into our bike drop on Cronin creek, a bit further than estimated but no big deal, we had time and we were glad to get a 100k plus day on the bikes. What did concern me though was that my knees, mostly my left as usual, had already started to hurt less than two hours into the ride. 

As soon as we left the bikes I made the first nav error by climbing the wrong spur, we weren't too concerned though, instead of backtracking to the correct spur we just continued upward on a route which took us almost directly to the summit of Mt Ernest, arriving just on dark. I almost killed Liam for the first time here by dislodging a 50kg block on one the tricky scrambling sections. It wasn't long before we lost the vague footpad leading down the east ridge and started to scrub bash. And so it went for the next several hours. Here and there we picked up trails, climbed and descended knolls, stumbled, slipped and fell down steep slopes and eventually made our way down to the Logan river by which time my knees were very unhappy. I tried to kill Liam again on the lower slopes, this time the rock, much smaller, caught him in the ankle..sorry mate! Nothing broken though so we hiked back to our bikes along the Cronin creek firetrail and discussed whether or not we would climb Mt Barney as well. I decided my knees were in no shape for another steep 1000m climb and descent. 
Liam on one of the steeper sections of the Mt Ernest climb.

Back at the bikes we fueled and put on another layer which we figured would be enough once warmed up. We were wrong! Over the first few ks several stops were made and eventually we were wearing everything we had. The biggest mistake was fingerless gloves, for a while I improvised with my spare socks over my gloves but when I lost the feeling in my toes (I had wet shoes and socks, too embarrassing to explain how this happened) I had to put them on my feet. It was f'n cold!

We cruised back into Boonah at around 3am, jumped in the van and cranked the heater up. Even though we cut the foot portion short, this was still a very tough worthwhile mission.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COOLOOLA PACKRAFT/HIKE



This is a great local trip I've had in mind for a while but only recently acquired the awesome little boats that make it possible, Alpacka packrafts!

We started by getting a lift from Rainbow Beach to a track off Cooloola Way which runs down to a pumping station on Teewah creek. The gauge at the put-in read .85, a bit higher would be better but there was still a decent amount of run in the creek. Teewah is a beautiful little tannin stained creek with white sandy beaches which ranges between two and ten metres wide. On the 6k paddle down to the junction with the Noosa river there are quite a few fallen trees which need to be portaged, no problem with a 2kg packraft! We also repeatedly ran into partially submerged trees and branches but never punctured the boats. 

 This is a good shot of the tea coloured water in Teewah creek.

From the Junction we paddled 3k down the Noosa river and stayed the night at campsite 13. Paddling packrafts on non-moving water is a fairly slow exercise, top speed is around 5km/hr! The next morning another 5k or so took us down to Dutgee campsite on the Cooloola Great Walk where we packed up the boats and spent the rest of the day hiking 35k north to Kauri walkers camp. 

My new cuben fibre Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Duo tarp at campsite 13. 210gm with guys and linelocs!! Not bad for a full size 2 person tarp!

We hiked 15k to the end of the Great Walk at Carlo Sandblow near Rainbow Beach through some really nice coastal rainforest past an overflowing Poona Lake. This section could easily be mistaken for parts of Fraser Island.

 Giant Strangler Fig.

On the sandblow at the end of the adventure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

BRISBANE TRAILWALKER NO.1


 Congratulations to everyone who made it through 100km of hills in Brisbane Forest Park last weekend. And thanks to my awesome team for a great day out!







Sunday, June 5, 2011

WINTER PERFECTION


 Spent the weekend at Girraween in the most perfect SE Qld winter weather..just too good.




Thursday, May 19, 2011

A BIG DAY IN THE BLUEYS


Myself and about 800 others lined up for a 100km jog through the Blue Mountains last weekend at the 4th edition of The North Face 100. The weather was pretty much perfect for running with clear skies and temps around 2-11 degrees in Katoomba, which felt a little chilly at the start but once on the move felt just right. Most of the first 5k on the course is actually on bitumen which I didn't like, but it passed fairly quickly and we were soon on some really nice singletrack and I felt much more at home. It wasn't long before we started to hit some of the stairs which a lot of the trails in the Blue Mountains are known for. Due to my reluctance to do any kind of training that I don't enjoy, I hadn't done any stair running leading up to this event..this was a mistake! There are hundreds of stairs on this course and I really suffered on some of them going up and down. I felt generally comfortable and relaxed through the first checkpoints at 18 and 38k, where I filled up my water and grabbed some mandarines (don't seem to work as well as oranges). I ran and chatted with Paicey a bit on Narrowneck as well as a few others travelling at a similar speed. Congrats to Paicey and all the other QLD crew, Robbie, Steve, Danielle, Luke, Sean, Mark and others. Robbie and Steve were on fire, both running around 12.5hrs! 


The first low point for me was at around the 40k mark on the steep descent from Ironpot ridge, despite leaning heavily on my poles, my knees really protested here and I had to stop and give them a break on the really steep sections. I came into the 54k aid station in 6.40 felling pretty good apart from some knee and quad soreness. I stopped here a bit longer than planned (12min) due to my usually very reliable crew, Sal, being late! Initially I did get slightly stressed about this when the rest of the group I had been running with left while I waited around, eventually I relaxed and realised a few minutes of extra rest would probably do me good. After some flat/rolling fireroad we got to some nice rolling singletrack on the Six Foot track before the hardest climb on the course, Nellies Glen. After 60k the 400+ steep stairs on this climb are brutal! 


I came into the 67k aid station in 8.30, inhaled some chips and a PB&J sandwich and got going on the long leg to the last aid station at 89k. After a few ks of mostly easy running on the tourist trails around Katoomba I came to the Giant Staircase, the hardest part of the course for me. My pace down the hundreds of steep stairs into the valley below slowed to barely moving and there was nothing I could do about it, my knees just refused to take the abuse. I went down backwards on some of the steeper sections and also stopped a few times to give my knees a rest. It was a relief to hit the bottom and my knees and quads immediately felt better on the flat which I was able to run without to much discomfort. The last long climb up Kedumba is quite easy (no stairs-low angled fireroad) but I had forgotten to eat for a little while and suddenly felt a little light headed and started to move very slowly, so I stopped for a minute and forced down a couple of gels and put on my headlamp. With a few k to go before the last aid station I also ran out of water, I will start with 2 litres for this leg next time. 


Heading for the bright lights with 11k to go.

I came in to the 89k aid station at just over 12 hours, I knew from talking to Darren about his run last year and looking at the splits that this section could take a while. It took me close to two hours to cover 11K!! The first few k out of the aid station is an uninspiring stretch of slightly uphill bitumen which I was unable to run. Most of the course after this is on nice technical - but slow - singletrack until you pop out onto the grass at the Fairmont resort for a short jog to the finish line. I came over the line in 13.58.54, a time I'm very happy with, just sneaking in for a silver buckle. 99 runners made it in under 14 hours this year and 59 last year so maybe we'll see the silver buckle time drop to 13 hours in future editions!

GPS details are here (the elevation is way out, should be around 4000m, and I forgot to stop it for 10min at the end)


I can't help but compare this event to Bogong to Hotham, which I ran for the first time in January. If you have read my B2H report you will know how highly I rate it, I really can't recommend it enough. B2H is a stunning point to point course with demanding terrain, run mostly on singletrack with very few course markings and there is no bitumen or urban element.. Bogong feels like a bit of an adventure. Having said that I did enjoy TNF100 (mostly). It's a huge challenge and the views out over the steep valleys and up at the impressive orange cliffs were fantastic. Body willing I'll be back next May. 

Now that I have enough qualifying points I just need to decide if I'll enter the UTMB lottery to celebrate my 40th birthday next year!..or maybe Western States? To be honest, I'm shit scared of both!

GEAR 

Shoes - Montrail Rockridge - great
Pack - Ultimate Direction Wasp - 390 - perfect, the standout piece of gear
Bladder - Platy Hoser 1 - 100 - should have swapped to bigger Platy for the long leg
Poles - BD Z pole Ultra - 260/pr - cut off wrist loops, perfect
Headlamp - BD Storm - 110 - great
Backup headlamp - BD Ion - 30 - mandatory
R'Jacket - OR Helium - 180 - mandatory. didn't use
R'pants - Golite Reed - 160 - mandatory. didn't use, had to carry from CP4
Fleece - Patagonia Capilene 4 - 220 - mandatory. wore on last leg, got a bit warm
Thermal top - TNF GTD - 120 - mandatory. wore the whole way. like Cap 2 better
Thermal bottom - polypro - 110 - mandatory. didn't use
Beanie - Buff - 20 - mandatory. wore early and late
Gloves - polypro - 40 - mandatory. wore early and late
Reflective vest - 150 -mandatory. we had to wear this on the last leg
Space blanket - 70 -mandatory
Compression bandage - mandatory
Matches-                           "
Firelighter-                       "
Whistle -                          "
Drysack -                          "
Maps -                              "

I also used Gurney Goo and had zero chaffing

Yep, this event has a serious amount of mandatory gear!

Fuel - eLoad gels (every 30 min), eLoad Zone caps (2 an hour), a few PB&J sandwichs, some plain chips, a few mandarines, a fruit bun and some chocolate biscuits

Thanks to the AROC crew and all the volunteers for a great event.













Sunday, March 20, 2011

THE BLACKALL BOOTLEG


Looking out from Thilba Thalba walkers camp.

I"ve decided to organise a "Fatass or "Bootleg" style run on my favourite section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. SUNDAY 1st OF MAY 7:30am START. See map below.
http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/media/parks_and_forests/great_walks/sunshine_coast/schgw_delicia_colour.pdf 


For those not familiar with Fatass events it is an unofficial run (or ride, AR, whatever) which has no entry fee, no prizes, no mandatory gear, no insurance and no aid stations. Someone sets a course and tells a heap of people about it. It's really just a social run.  

The 30km, 900mA, 900mD figure 8 course starts and finishes at the parking area at M4, first heading west along Delicia rd for almost 3km then heads north in an anti-clockwise direction around the loop. The bottom loop of the figure 8 is run in a clockwise direction back to M4. Apart from the first few ks the course follows fireroads and some really nice single track, particularly the high section near Thilba Thalba camp site. There are a few rocky bits but for the most part the trail is fairly smooth and fast. For anyone interested in running the whole Great Walk you will need to leave a car or bike at the Baroon Pocket dam trailhead. There is also good riding in the area so pack your MTB if you would like to add a bike leg. If you would also like to tack on a paddle, Baroon Pocket dam or the coast is close by. 


If you would like to stay in Mapleton the night before try -
http://www.mapletoncabinscaravans.com.au/  or
http://www.lilyponds.com.au/ 

I ran the course yesterday in very wet, muddy and humid conditions which really upset my breathing problem but it was nice to run in the clouds out of the sun. Details are here - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/73959255
To give you an idea of time, I ran all the flat and downhill and walked all the uphill.




Gheerulla creek.






Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EARLY SEASON AT MT BARNEY


Leaning peak and the summit in cloud.


Danno and I ran/walked a nice loop at Barney today which, for the most part, kept us in the shade and close to water. Our route started and finished at Yellowpinch, ascended Barney Gorge to the East/West saddle and descended Peasants Ridge back to the car. The Gorge is very slow at the moment, with lots of waterfalls to skirt around as well as treefall and a few land slips. 


Plenty of water in Barney creek at the moment.


Spiny Mountain crayfish.


Mt Ernest with fresh slip on the west end of the razorback.

Monday, March 7, 2011

CONONDALE RUN/BIKE

Great day out with Shaun and Russ yesterday getting wet, muddy and exhausted in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. We started in Mapleton and rode the 35ks to the Conondale Great Walk trailhead. After stashing our bikes we ran and walked a very muddy, Leech infested 55ks clockwise around the GW. The trail is fairly slow at the moment being overgrown in parts with quite a bit of tree fall and slippery, boggy ground underfoot. By the time we jumped on our bikes for the ride back to Mapleton it was getting dark and enthusiasm had waned slightly. Sal agreed to pick us up somewhere along the road on the way back and we willingly jumped in the van after about another 20ks on the bikes. A solid and thoroughly recommended day out. 


Russ at the first creek crossing. Russ and Shaun both carried XPD size loads for the day.


Shaun at the last crossing.

Trailside friend.

Summer Falls.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ANOTHER SUMMER OPTION

Springbrook NP is a great place to run trails when it's hot, there is water everywhere and most of the trails stay in shady rainforest. The Warrie Circuit is a fairly easy 17km loop with a perfect swimming hole at the half way point. There are plenty of other short trails as well.


Lamington Spiny Crayfish often come out on the trails after rain.

Rainbow Falls is a nice spot for a shower.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

SHIPS STERN/DAVES CREEK LOOP

Looking out at the 'Ships Stern'.


I was entered in the Mt Glorious Mountain Trails 30km today but the recent heavy rains had caused severe damage to parts of the original course. As a result QPWS offered Joyners Ridge rd and a short section of single track for the event. This meant a double out and back on a 7.5km section of mostly firetrail. So I could do that or I could go to Lamington and cruise perfect single track through the cool forest..easy decision.

The Ships Stern/Daves Creek loop is a run/walk I've done many times before and is one of my favourites at Lamington due to it's diversity. About half the trail is through rainforest and past the waterfalls Lamington is famous for and the rest follows rocky escarpments and drier Eucalypt forests. The trail is fairly non technical and all runnable without any big steep climbs. Although not quite as cool as the pure rainforest trails in the park this loop is still a great summer option with plenty of creeks to have a splash in along the way.

Details here - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/66819540 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE ROOFTOP RUN 2011


The high country.

On the weekend I travelled to Mt Beauty in the Victorian Alps to take part in the 26th edition of Bogong to Hotham, a 64km mountain run widely considered to be the hardest trail run mile for mile in Australia.

 Figures according to the Garmin - 

Ascent - 3336m
Descent - 2086m
Distance - 63.7km

Yep, this run is a beast! Full details here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/62921336 

At 5:30am Andy sent us off from the Mountain Creek campground towards our first challenge, Mt Bogong, Victoria's highest peak at 1986m. After an easy jog along two km's of undulating firetrail we turned off onto the Staircase Spur trail for a 1300m/6km climb to the top of Mt Bogong. I had decided not to use my hiking poles from the start as I was concerned about jabbing someone as we ran in a bunch to the start of the climb. Instead I picked up a couple of sticks and started a slow and steady hike to the top of the mountain. (I will just start with my own much lighter sticks next time, others did without issue). The Staircase Spur trail was not as steep as I expected but I stuck to my plan and took it nice and easy to the summit where I stopped for a minute and took in the vista.

The next few kms are a really nice fast section of trail down to Cleve Cole hut, a beautiful spot which I'll come back and camp sometime. The next section drops steeply down to the crossing at Big River, the cold water felt great on my already sore knees. After crossing Big River Duane Spur rises like a wall in front of you, this is a shorter but much steeper climb than Staircase Spur and the hardest part of the course in my opinion. By the time I had reached Roper hut (23km in) and the top of the climb the cloud and temperature had dropped which limited the great views but made for ideal running conditions. 

The next 12km into Langford Gap are very runnable but I had some stomach issues here and walked quite a bit eventually arriving in around 5h40m. Langford Gap (35km in) is the first cut-off point in the race, those starting at 5:30am have 6.5 hours to get there and the 6:30am starters have 5.5 hours. Only 17 of the 64 starters didn't make the cut-off. I stopped for a bit here and had something to eat from the incredibly well stocked aid station. Oranges are by far my favourite aid station food, everytime I had some orange I felt great for the next little while. I wish I could carry oranges instead of gels. I shuffled along for the next 6km to the Bogong High Plains road crossing where Sal was waiting for me in near whiteout conditions. I spent a while here eating and changing into dry shoes, probably too long actually, my total time was 10h06m but moving time was 9h31m so I spent a while dicking around at aid stations.

I headed off into the mist across the high plains feeling good, it's mostly flat here so I jogged a bit and walked a bit with my knees feeling pretty good. Then came the descent to the Cobungra river which I should have run a little more slowly to save my knees. 
Swindlers Spur (55km in) was definitely the low point for me, my knees ached and I started to feel drained so I just tried to keep moving and get to Mt Hotham. At the Derrick Hut aid station I had an orange and immediately felt better, managing to run a bit on some flat and downhill bits and even mustered the energy for a burst to the line.

Everything about this event impressed me, the mountains, the course, the volunteers, the other competitors and the race directors. The amount of work that goes into this run is substantial, some of the aid stations are many hours walk into the mountains yet volunteers and race directors packed in radio equipment, water and food and without exception were all helpful and encouraging. The entry fee is also ridiculously cheap.

Many thanks to Andy, Brett, Mike, The Albury Wadonga Radio Club and all the volunteers.

GEAR - 

Shoes - Inov8 Roclite 295 - Great shoes, probably as light as I would go on this course.
Pack - Nathan HPL#020 - The best small running pack I've used.
Jacket - OR Helium - mandatory.
Thermal top - Patagonia Cap 1 - mandatory.
Poles - homemade - Awesome, 100gm each! definitely helps my knees, but a pain to transport due to the fixed length. Note: by the end of next month the new Black Daimond Z pole ultra will be here. These poles borrow BDs avalanche probe technology to make a super compact collapsible pole that weighs around 140gm. Set to become the standard bushwalking/trailrunning poles.






Done. An idea I had for next year (body willing) is to continue on over Hotham and pick up the Razorback trail to Mt Feathertop then descend Bungalow spur to finish in Harrietville. Would be an epic day for sure.