Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tapanappa to Balquhidder

It just seemed like it would be too hard. I'd done the first couple of hills ok, but could I ride another 15kms of it? And stupid me, I had not got up early enough, it was 10.30am already. So I canned the ride. I was at my determined end point of today's walk, Balquhidder, on Callawonga Road just past the end of Tunk Head Road. I had missed this End to End 3 walk when I was sick (remember the shortest cold ever?). I had got a copy of the CFS map book page from Tim, why had Robin bought him this neither I nor him had any idea, but it was certainly useful for me. Would have been more useful if I could read contours better; I had determined it was hilly, but manageable. It was mental, so at 10.30am in the morning, I decided not to risk spending the next two to four hours riding, then walking the 15km walk back to the car. I had plenty of water for the ride and the walk, but time? No. So I rode back to the car. Also, I wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of walking out-of-season across the short 2kms or so of farmland. Well, I wouldn't normally even consider it... but it was only 5 days into November, and it seemed such a short distance (if on the map and not in reality!).

So I drove to Tapanappa, to where we had ended the walk back in July (I missed this June walk). I had camped here before, so with that established I felt justified in driving a little along the trail to reduce my walking distance, I was already set to do this section there and back. So I saved about 1.5kms by driving. I really enjoyed walking down to the sea, it was much warmer in amongst the scrub than it was on the bare windy hill before, although this section was overgrown. I taped my knees after my right one started aching, this was a two hundred metre descent.

It took me about an 1.5 hours to reach Tunkalilla beach, a distance of about 3.5kms. The beach, yes, the dreaded beach everyone complained about, apparently the sand was very soft so it was difficult to walk along. It wasn't difficult at all, just long, the trail went for about 4.5kms along the beach. Of course, I took my shoes off, prefering to walk barefoot. It was soft in sections, but it was a matter of walking in the wet bit and following the line of dry sand, although this became difficult to determine sometimes as the tide was coming in. I checked myself off on the map as I passed landmarks, however, somehow I still missed where the trail left the beach. This wasn't a big deal as I wasn't walking this small section of the trail, instead turning around at this point and returning to the car, well, after a quick swim, a snack and a sunblock top-up. I need to check Google Earth perhaps, but from the map the trail left the beach between the last two creeks, and I found both creeks but no sign of the trail, nor any sign of it on any hill leading away from the beach. This apparently, was a tough climb up a fenced hill. Could only see one hill to match that, and it wasn't marked with trail markers at all. I thought maybe I would see the trail when I walked back, I had walked about 1 km past it. I then walked back, choosing to walk along the track just beyond the dunes, so I could see some sign of the trail but also so I could walk somewhere new. Back towards the start of the beach I had to walk a km or so on the sand again. Saw 2 roos, it is so easy to unintentionally creep up on them, even within a couple of metres before they see a lone hiker. Anyway, one with a joey jumped they fence to flee from me, but the joey couldn't or wouldn't jump. Eventually it did with the help of the mother, and then it scrambled into the mother's pouch, even though it looked too big for that. It was too big, with it's legs and tail sticking out of the pouch (it dived in head first), it fell out with two bounces.

Although it only took me 45 minutes to walk down the beach along the sand, it took me over an hour to walk back. No idea why, thought I was going faster on the track, but apparently not.

So the walk took 4.5 hours total, about 9kms each way, 5.5kms each way on Tunkalilla Beach. I was glad I had decided not to cover that last 2kms, how would I have found the trail? Although later I realised I would have had to close the 2kms to get back to the car, so probably would have followed the creek up to the road.

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