Sunday, May 06, 2007

Riding Rough

Curnows Hut to Raeville
Northern Guidebook Maps 1.4-1.5

Today featured some rough riding. Well, truthfully, not. Perhaps better stated, "rough pushing a bike up a hill". Today I need to hike some 18km, and return, meaning I had 36km to hike. Too far for me to hike, especially when it is return (return seems so much harder than hiking one way). So I plotted to ride half the distance, and hike the second half, bringing the total riding distance to 18km, and the total hiking distance to 18km. Very achievable. The first 6km or so was on forest tracks, climbing up to the peak of New Campbell Hill - just 6 metres shy of the height of Mt Lofty. It was tough, pushing my bike up those hills. But it would be worth it, I knew riding home would be all down hill, even if because of the rough tracks it would be heavy on the brakes.

Near New Campbell Hill the Heysen Trail follows the ridge, as does a dry stone wall, similar to the High River wall that featured on the Dead Cow Quarry to Marble Hill Road walk. At the peak I was rewarded with magnificent views, with Bundaleer Forest on one side, the North Mount Lofty Ranges petering out, and the start of the South Flinders Ranges in the distant west. A transition point between the two major ranges.

I then rode predominately downhill, undulating, through some farmland, along a track. A little lamb followed me, which was a little unsettling because it was following after me and not the rest of the sheep. Alas, it grew tired, and somehow managed to rejoin the other sheep. It was cute. At the end of the track, I parked my bike on a farm fence next to a Heysen Trail stile, leaving an accompanying note to explain the oddity of a bike in the middle of no-where. I had ridden 8.4km, which took just over an hour.

I then hiked through open farmland, following a creekbed through a shallow valley. Pretty uninteresting. Leaving the farmland, I climbed to follow a ridge of a range, still part of the North Mt Lofty Ranges. Here I was rewarded with impressive views of the distant Bundaleer Forest, New Campbell Hill, the shallow farming valley, and a wide valley with farming, roads, the towns of Georgetown and Gladstone, and in the distance the start of the South Flinders Ranges and Mt Remarkable. Within a few kilometres of following this open ridge, I could see the Raeville homestead - the end of today's hike. I struggled on, determined to get close before turning around. A couple of kilometres later though, I gave up, I couldn't handle hiking to somewhere I could see, only to turn around and return. I had hiked about 1.5 hours, and was probably about 4-5km from Raeville.

I took numerous shortcuts on the way back, across the shallow farmland - rather than following the meandering creekbed, I headed straight for the distinctive windmill near my bike, saving an extra 30 mins from when I passed the first time. Back at my bike, I pushed my bike up a hill, following a fence line, saving almost 3km of riding. It was hard work, some of it I had to resort to carrying my bike (rather than pushing it). It then took just an hour to ride back to Curnows Hut, very heavy on the brakes.

1 comment:

Jo Spargo said...

Hi Jezza - good to see you are hard at the Heysen again. I was just checking out my bookmarks and finished reading about your adventures in Thailand (i got a bit slack after the first two weeks). I love some of the photos you've taken - good stuff.
Jo Spargo