Sunday, August 26, 2007

Teacher Graham's Rules & Regulations

Today's fast group was led by teacher Graham. He set a fast pace, awarding negative and positive points as we went, but by what rules were these points being awarded?

Mylor to Cleland
Southern Guidebook, Maps 3.2-3.4

Graham led his first walk at an amazing pace. After an hour's hiking we brought to his attention the silence that had descended upon the group. We were all getting tired hiking so fast! Even though Hilary was punished with having to write out lines, she was later awarded positive points! Did I get any? No! We awarded him 2.5 strikes for leading us astray two and a half times... seriously though, he's a natural. He promises to specify the rules & regs in future...

It was a surprisingly good hike, looking at the map it was through residential areas, much of it along roads. But there was little road walking, along most roads there were trails following parallel to the roads, although seemingly far from the road. So we were treated to many special little places.

Some intriging history stuff today, or so I found out after google'ing it later. The photo below shows a tunnel under a main railway. So what, you say? Notice the steel pipe at the top of the photo just beyond the tunnel, and stonework beyond that (top left of photo). That steel pipe - it's cast iron from the 1880's, and with the stone abutment, formed part of a large bridge that crossed Cox Creek, I think it was "filled-in" in the 1920's. Compare to the photo from 1885, see? I presume the method of building up an earth embankment beneath a 4-span bridge that needed strengthening would result in very little disruption and cost compared to building a new bridge and associated earthworks beside an existing bridge. Once the earth embankment was built up to within a metre or so of the bottom of the bridge span, the span could be removed and the rest of the earth built up and the tracks relaid, presumably very quickly.

The photo below shows the millrace that fed water from the dam on Cox Creek to the Bridgewater Mill. The millrace is immediately to the right of the path, in the form a concrete culvert (but not clear in photo, I just thought it was a gutter). Of course the millrace had to be on a slight incline, and obviously involved lots of earthworks in it's construction. Apparently (thanks Google), there was a village further upstream, but the mill was built downstream. The Mt Barker road was re-routed in the 1850's through what is now Bridgewater so a town grew there instead. The Mill built a new dam in 1870, but within a year the dam wall collapsed and washed away the village. More info.

The hike to the summit was tough, ascending some 200 metres in a short distance, but it felt good to reach such a milestone - from Cape Jervis in April last year to the landmark of Mt Lofty now.

I was eager to get a cover shot for the next Trailwalker mag, so I subjected people to various photos which will tee up End-to-End 3 reaching Mt Lofty Summit with the recent Sea to Summit hike.

Michele brought along an old school friend, Ros, and her daughter Jo, who are visiting from Scotland. Ros was particularly concerned about today's hike - it's toughness and length. I'm don't think Michele had been entirely honest with her about the length of the hike, gradually easing her into the idea over the week. As it turned out, the hike was only 16.5km, not the 19km it purported to be. And both really enjoyed the hike, despite the warm weather.

  • Distance: 16.5km
  • Hike duration: 5 hours
  • Weather: 25 degrees, clear

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Spectacular Views

Alligator Gorge Road to Horrocks Pass
Northern Guidebook, Maps 3.3-3.5

Spectacular views from the top of the unofficially named Lavender Peak. Named in honour of Terry Lavender, architect of the Heysen Trail. The Friends of the Heysen Trail applied to the Geographic Board to have it named so, but apparently current practice is not to name features after people. There was a cairn there, so people added some rocks.

Some bush-bashing out, we headed down the steep hill to Stony Creek Camp. From here, the spectacular finished, we exited Mt Remarkable National Park. My knee was quite sore, so I was glad of the flat terrain.

We hiked along a fire track beside a pleasant creek, then followed a bitumen road and some other road reserves. Near our lunch stop we could see Horrock's Pass in the distance.

The last 4km was following the bitumen road through Horrocks Pass. Not very interesting, walking on bitumen roads, but apparently the last bitumen road walking. Cant overstate how good that would be!

  • Distance: 14km
  • Hike time: 10am (??) to 2pm
  • Clear, but cool, 15 degrees maybe

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The End

Melrose to Alligator Gorge Road
Northern Guidebook, Maps 3.1-3.3

No, not my end. Lyn and Helen finished the Heysen Trail today. Previously it has also been the end of people hiking the Heysen Trail - meaning it was so tough they gave up. Also, my end of the Heysen Trail is now in sight, with a detailed itinerary released today for next year's two weeks away, so I will finish the trail in August (2008).

It was a tough hike, harder than the Sea-to-Summit hike of a few weeks ago, climbing up to the summit of Mt Remarkable, then on to the road that leads into Alligator Gorge. The hike to the summit wasn't hard, 7km long but gently winding it's way up, but the 16km after that was tough!

Lyn marks the final section off on her map

Also, the end of the trail is now in sight for me. I was to have completed 50.25% (let's call it 50%!) of the Heysen Trail after tomorrow's hike. But I was told the Heysen Trail was 1,197km long when last officially measured (re-routes would have varied that a little, give and take) around 2000 or so. I thought it was last officially measured at 1,144km... so this weekend I was to hike from 47% to 50% complete... but now with that new info, after Sunday's hike it would be just 48% complete. That may not sound too close to the end, but it is now just 1 year until I will complete the trail. Jerry handed around a detailed itinerary for our two weeks away next year (2008), one week's hiking in June, and another in August. So with the rest of the scheduled hikes for this year, a few extras, and the End-to-End 3 hikes between April and August, I will finish the Heysen Trail at Parachilna Gorge in August. Yay! That's not really so far away, heh?

As today was a long, tough hike, we started at 7am from Melrose, opting to get the bus to return us to Melrose at the end of the day. As it was, the 23km took us until 4.30pm to complete. I enjoyed starting early, we got to enjoy those few wonderful hours in the morning as the sun rose, with superb photos of Mt Remarkable and views over Melrose on the hike up to the summit. I needed to get a cover photo for the upcoming Trailwalker, so I took lots of portrait shaped photos on the hike up to the summit. Maybe I have something. I should really think more about these things in the three months leading up to each Trailwalker.

We walked across a few areas of screed, a nice word for rock fall really. Huge areas had succumbed to rock falls, but were relatively stable - if you can believe it - when a path had been flattened out across it. On one particularly large area, the sound underfoot was unsettlingly hollow. I stepped just off the edge of the flattened path to take a potential Trailwalker cover photo, and oh my goodness, it was very unstable just off the path. It's a wonder that the path is safe. It was in this section we also saw the remains of a light aircraft that had crashed on the mountain in heavy fog whilst descending to Port Pirie from Broken Hill. Everyone was so callous, they didn't even check the wreckage for survivors! What if this crash had happened just last night? Of course it hadn't, the wreckage has been there since the 1970's. I gather that the plane wreckage has been slowly moving it's way down this rock slide, breaking up more and more over time.

There were some very steep sections after the summit, one down a sharp valley and back up the other side. Magnificent views along Spring Creek through Webbs Cutting.

People had left their marks on the water tank at the Summit Camp, but at Grays Hut we found much older marks. There on one of the few remains of the original hut, on the stone chimney, people had scratched their names. Grays Hut is very new and clean, with a nice outside area.

Nearing the end of the hike, we faced this incredible hill, but were relieved to hear we didn't need to climb all the way to the top! Several kilometres on, at the road to Alligator Gorge, Lyn and Helen finished the trail. We had to hike a further one kilometre up the road to meet the bus, but were elated at the sight of the bus coming down the road. Apparently the driver thought it was too steep for the bus, but came out anyway! The next morning we got to see how steep it was when were driven back to our end spot for that day's hike, as the bus slowly laboured up the hills.

Read another's account (a Tale of Adventure, Exhaustion and Sheep) of hiking to the summit and beyond.

  • Distance: 23km
  • Hike time: 7.20am to 4.20pm
  • Clear, 25 degrees (maybe)

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