Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aireys Inlet, Victoria. May 2014.

clouds at sunset open sky
Sorry. This is nowhere near Aireys Inlet. I just happen to like a big sky. 

Here we go again. Another day, another post and another moment of wondering why Custer didn't get his packs. Did Benteen think he said snacks instead? I'm telling you this, if I ever send a message which could be interpreted as snacks, then yes, it would be correct, as snacks are my default setting.

Anyway, this is another semi-retro post, as I did this walk in May this year. I was scrolling through the old GPS files and noticed in the month of May I walked on 22 days. I think that was a good effort? In the end, I might as well write up a few of those retro walks. Oh, by the way, what's the date range where I can use the word retro? Is last May retro? What about ten minutes ago? I just had a toasted cheese sandwich and it felt retro. How's that? Time and feeling creating a full retro experience. Amazing.

Have you heard of Christmas in July? Well, this is the same thing, except it's May in September.

I found this particular walk in the Glenn Tempest book 'Daywalks Around Victoria'. If you peruse it you'll notice he went for an epic succinct style by calling it 'Around Aireys Inlet'. As you can see from this posts title, I've got no time to be writing 'around', so I've pared it back a little more. Writing 'around' is annoying anyway, as essentially it's open to interpretation. If you've got good walking legs, an 'around' to you might be from Aireys Inlet to Echuca and back. In a day. Oh, I also noticed he's now up at Natimuk running a cafe. I checked it out online and for the life of me I've no idea why he didn't name it, 'A Tempest in a Tea Cup'. It's the perfect name! As a result, I expect my cheque in the mail.

How about this walk? It's longish and I did it a few days after the infernal northern circuit of Wilsons Promontory, which you've recently had to endure in writing. The 20 km didn't seem too bad a distance, as I thought I'd have picked up some fitness from the four day Prom walk. Well, yes and no. Let me explain.

The traditional GT walk is step out of the car, don the backpack, walk ten paces and immediately start climbing a vertical hill. I'm sure he gets a kick out of writing up track notes for chumps like me to suffer on. Yep, this walk was exactly the same. I parked at some drunken den called Distillery Creek Picnic Area and began strolling. It was lovely. Still, no wind, the birds were tweeting, sun shining and I was thinking, 'How good this is?' For about 0.35 seconds.

Turning onto Boundary Road I looked ahead to see the straight, unmade road reach up towards the stratosphere. Huh? I barely took a breath between 'How good is this?' to 'Tempest you bastard!'. I'm not sure why I'm always surprised? Anyway, I slipped into locomotive mode (sans whistle) and plodded up. Looking up with a contorted face now and again was beneficial, as I saw some competition farther ahead. Walking in the same direction was the world's oldest man, with legs so bandy, his knees were on the outside. He was chipping away at the summit and I expected to be roaring past him in any second...

boundary road aireys inlet

He went over the top and I dutifully followed, but there was a problem. I kid you not, but as I cleared the hill and could now see all the way to the coast, he appeared to be about a kilometre ahead. I'm not sure if this is possible. I pondered many theories. Was I in a time bubble and reality has shifted? Is he an alien? Is he the ghost of Emil Zátopek? Am I just a fat bastard who is a slow walker? These were all good ideas and as yet, I don't have the answer to what happened on that sunny May day. All you need to know is he was a long way away in a short span of time.

boundary road aireys inlet

Things had started out glowingly, but now I was suicidal in no time. All it took was a steep hill in the first ten feet and an insanely fast corpse. It doesn't take much.

There certainly wasn't any navigation problems here, as it appears Boundary Road was created to be the straightest road in history and one could navigate with a blindfold on and not get lost. Oh, take it off at the end though, as you'll fall into the ocean.

Reaching the sea, there was a nice little winding path along the cliff tops. At one point I came to a set of stairs and it didn't make sense to pass them by, so I wandered down for some beach action.

I stood, looked, turned around and climbed the stairs back to the cliff top again. I'm not sure what the purpose of this descent was, but at least I've got a beach photo rather than one from up high.

As you can see from the previous shot, the Split Point Lighthouse was in sight. The savvy reader here will be sick of that lighthouse, as it's appeared a million times and even has its own post. Walking on, it was soon looming through the trees...

split point lighthouse

...before a bit more time passed and I was standing at its base.

looking up at split point lighthouse

Really, it's one of my favourite coastal spots with its headland jutting out into the sea. Not to mention the large, bright white structure stretching skywards. It's a lovely spot to sit and have a bite to eat and my snacking location contained this view, but not really. Yes, I was looking in the same direction, but under a clear sky and benign conditions the photos were pretty plain, so I'm using one from another trip. Can I do this? Interchangeable photos? I should ask the bloke who does the blog and I'll get back to you. He said yes. You really can't get better service than that, can you?

rain clouds over ocean

Now filled with high cholesterol, I began the wander down to the beach. Calm conditions are always nice when strolling on sand and I did spend some time trying to nail a wave photo, where the water is in the centre of the frame and whilst keeping my feet dry. Always a problematic activity, but this one wasn't too bad.

aireys inlet beach

Finding some decent driftwood is also on my beach fossicking radar, but in some way, I was impressed to see this beach was clean of any debris. Most beaches I visit seem to have at least a plastic bottle or a shoe on them. Did I mention the time I found some blokes spine on the beach? I'm not sure how to write that post, as it might not pass the PG rating. Maybe another day.

There may have been no driftwood, but I did spot this wonderfully translucent feather. Look at it! You can see right through!

feather on sand beach

You'll might be surprised by how well this is going, but other than being outsprinted by a fossil, it was quite a good walk. Leaving the beach though and heading inland, I passed some blokes working on a power pole, almost got run over when I decided to walk on the road instead of the foot path and noted it was bin night. Yes, it was that sort of walk.

Leaving 'burbs-lite, a long climb uphill began and I'm not sure what happened. Where did all of my Prom fitness go? I've no idea, but the world's smallest hill left me panting and puffing before needing to stop for a decade to get my breath back. Other than a horse rider racing by, it was quite serene and the hills beckoned.

great otways national park

Except I didn't go into the hills at the rear of the photo (don't you hate that?) and instead began a descent to Moggs Creek Picnic Area. Do you realise the walk is almost over? If it's 20 km, you're probably wondering what happened to the rest of it? I have an answer to your question. I've forgotten.

What I do remember is pottering around the picnic area and spotting something tucked away and more or less out of view. It was some fungi, but not your average mushroom. Have a look at this.

large fungi

Yeah okay, it doesn't look too exciting, as some scale is required. Right, get this into you. Here's my size 48 boot next to it. Does it look a bit more impressive now?

fungi with size comparison

Imagine the mushroom dishes you could make with this one? Mind you, if it was toxic, I should rephrase the question. Imagine the lethal mushroom dishes you could make with this one?

Leaving Moggs Creek, it was a bit late in the day, so I had to get motoring, although I'm only having you on, as you saw my speed at the start of the post. I began chugging up a long hill on a track, which has some sort of name. I think.

sunlight through trees

Climbing upwards, I admired the late afternoon sun filtering through the trees. The sloth-like speed wasn't great, but one can't have it all. There's one advantage of barely moving and that's a lot of time is spent looking at the ground. A flower to admire...

holding flower

...or an impressive reflection within a puddle of water, which looked like a passage to another world.

tree reflection in puddle

Once over the hill, it was a casual descent to Painkalac Dam. I must say, the warm glow from the sun, low in the sky, may have been nice through the trees, but it was equally attractive across the water. Quite peaceful and if I had some more time I may have put my feet up for a while.

painkalac dam

There was no time to lounge around though, as light began to fade. Heading off, I kept my eye out for more interesting reflections...

reflections in puddles

...before taking what I thought was my best photo of the day. As a picture, this leaning road sign gave me more of a kick than any other I took on the walk. Yep, this is what it's come down to.

road sign in trees

Before I knew what was going on, I was back at the car. That wasn't too bad, was it? On reflection, it was a nice walk, but by perusing the GPS reading, I again missed out on the suggested trip time. It's list as five hours, but it took me 5 hours 40 minutes. Oh well...

On the subject of GPS readings. Remember a few posts back I was moaning and crying about the new Garmin Connect website, that corrupted most files I'd uploaded? Well, I thought I'd backed most of them up, but it seems the ones from a few years ago weren't. Silly me. Unfortunately, I've lost some of the trickier ones. Mt Buller traverse, the Big Walk up Mt Buffalo, Langi Ghiran, the entire first attempt of the Great South West Walk, Mt Difficult and Briggs Bluff circuit. Actually, it goes on and on.

What I really want to know is, if the GPS file doesn't exist, did the walk really happen? Mm... I'm not sure about re-doing any of those again.

As an alternative, I've been dabbling with Strava, so this walk lives in there. You can find it here.

Is that it? Will I ever escape May? I doubt it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lower Barry Creek to Five Mile Road, Wilsons Promontory. May 2014.

walking in scrub near lower barry creek wilsons promontory
A nice day to be wandering. 

Have you noticed I haven't been here for a while? Were you curious at all? Well, you should be. I'm quite alive, although recently I've veered between suicidal, homicidal and lackofsugarcidal. All of these are draining my mojo for writing.

Oh, don't worry, I may vanish for a while, but I'll always return at some point. Even if dead. I want to be the first 'blogging ghost' who'll haunt the internet with words of rambling crap, unlike this current rambling crap, which is completely different, as I'm alive. Can you see the distinction? It's an important one.

So, remember this hike? I wasn't even going to write about this last day of the foray on the northern circuit of Wilsons Promontory. Hell, Smuffin and I did the walk in May, so it's getting a bit long in the tooth and worst of all, there's nothing in this final stanza to talk about. For completeness though, I think it's best to knock it off once and for all. Before I do though, a couple of things. I've needed to do some spring cleaning of the blog, but I had to wait until it was actually spring before beginning. Luckily for me, spring started, so here we go.

Has anyone noticed a few of the comments on posts are missing? Without sounding like a complete wanker (that'll be later), comments are vital to fuel a blog. You know why? I can't say this enough, but most often blogging just feels like I'm having an extended conversation with myself. Some of these posts can take a week to compile and if they're not well received (which might be totally unfounded), I tend to verge close to bronzing up. Comments are important and I'll dispute any blogger who says they don't like them. Who writes, but doesn't want any feedback? No and not just any no. It's no².

So, after finally getting my head around answering a few comments, what did I do? Well, instead of deleting 100 spam ones, I accidentally deleted the last 100 legitimate comments. I told you I wasn't in the proper head space for this. It was quite traumatic, but in some way, understandable. Do you realise I get up to 500 spam emails a day for the blog? Yes, they do go into the bucket, but some legitimate ones end up in there as well, so I try and fish them out. It's time consuming, so it's amazing I haven't ballsed up and clicked the wrong button before.

All I can say is, I apologise to everyone who's left a comment lately and has now found it's missing. No, I don't dislike you. Honestly, I'd give you all a kiss to thank you for taking up some of your time to leave one. Oh, maybe I should clarify regarding the kissing. With the men, I'd still kiss you, but there'd be no tongue. Sorry.

There's no getting around it. Those comments are gone and are now floating in the ether somewhere before no doubt landing at the feet of Jimmy Hoffa and Lord Lucan, who I'm sure are sharing a motel in Vegas at this moment.

Before leaving this topic for good, I must remind you about the comment policy in this joint. I only accept glowing, informative or something which adds to a post. If a smart arse one is left, like a couple I've had recently, I just delete them. So if you're a penis, how many times do I have to tell you? There's no democracy in blogging. It's a personal blog and I run a tight dictatorship here.

Right. What else? I haven't been walking much either, which is problematic when writing a hiking blog. I really should have stuck with my original idea, 'Sitting in the Cafe Fiasco'. It would have been so much easier. Anyway, I decided the only way to get motoring again was to head into the wild lands of Lerderderg Gorge. I'm telling you, that place with it's hideously steep hills and hundreds of snakes, always underfoot in the warmer months, is the perfect location to feel alive again. Let me explain.

I set out wandering within its narrow confines and faced the traditional, "which side of the river should I be on?" routine. I criss-crossed a number of times yesterday, until misjudging and finding the water was a bit deep. Whilst wading, the level rose up and up until finally the frigid liquid lapped at my baubles. It was quite a moment and as I let out a cry, which was similar to a squirrel on helium, I found something else come over me.

I was back. Ready to walk and write again. This bell ringing moment worked for me and maybe it could do the same for you? If you think about it, you don't even have to go walking and instead, do it on the cheap at home. Leap up from you sofa and stand with your legs apart. Then request your partner deliver to the cojones, an 80 metre torpedo punt, complete with follow through and if done correctly both your feet should lift at least six inches off the ground. As a result, can you imagine how alive you'll feel? Oh, if you're not sure about it, just give Google a whirl and you'll find some informative videos online. You can ignore the German language being used, as a visual instruction is all you need. Leather face mask is also optional. It's your call.

Don't you love a long intro? I've got one more thing to cover and then I can describe the last day of the hike where nothing happened. My next spring cleaning task will be the walking companions bit, which I aim to stick on the home page. At this stage I'll be doing a quick spiel about Smuffin, Ben and Derek. The only thing stopping me from doing it now is a photo, which will display them at their finest.

I found one of Smuffin where he appears to be humping a boulder. It's not bad, but as you can imagine, it's pending approval. I'm not sure of the Ben one? Currently he's doing philosophy at university, whilst also increasing his alcohol intake during down time. I guess I could get a photo of him unconscious next to a goon bag? Remember what Socrates said, 'In order to think, you've got to drink. Lots'. Oh, and Derek? In his aim to become an extreme ultralight hiker, his concerns about carrying excess weight was taken to extremes. Getting rid of his brain wasn't the wisest idea, as he can't think any more, so there's no point getting him to approve any photos. I'll do it for him.

Mm... I think that's it? I should have kept a list, as I'm sure there's more. It's slipped my mind though, so I might as well finish off what this post is meant to be about.

Smuffin and I had arrived at the Lower Barry Creek campsite in the mid afternoon. What's weird is we were surrounded by gnarly looking clouds and before we knew it, the wind had picked up, causing a whistling and groaning of trees grinding against each other. Surely it was going to rain? Luckily, I had brought a tarp for just such an occasion. None of this cooking in a tent caper if it began bucketing down. Nope, up went the Taj Mahal with it's vast big boy coverage to protect us from the elements.

tarp in trees lower barry creek camp wilsons promontory

As darkness fell, the wind howled with unabated intensity and I expected rain to tumble down at any moment. Lying in my kipper, I wondered if it was the last snooze I'd ever have, as creaking trees above left me mildly petrified about being speared like a kebab by a falling branch. I hoped not, as I wouldn't be able to write this post and I'd also miss out in buying a fridge magnet from Knob Lick, Missouri. Oh, in case you're wondering, I do like to keep my ambitions lo-fi.

Guess what happened next? I woke up and it was sunny and dry, with not a drop of rain to be seen anywhere. Huh? What was all that about? Talk about taking the piss. Oh well, we lost a decade of our life erecting and then de-erecting (is that even a word?) the Taj for no apparent purpose, but that kinda sums up hiking anyway.

Now the walking part. I'm really struggling here, as I have no recollection of the events. Mainly because it was full steam ahead to Five Mile Road. The vegetation was no different than the last few days. It tended to remove pieces of skin from our bare legs or ensnare us on the way past.

pack snared in scrub wilsons promontory

Stumbling along, I was reminded of my notes, which stated, ' the top of a prominent bare granite dome, drop the packs and soak up the magnificent 360 degree views...'. Mm... Where was this strange contraption he speaks of? After much walking, we found this...

granite rock wilsons promontory

...which really, gave quite piss-poor views. I assume this wasn't the rock as described? Either that, or the bloke who wrote the notes is about one foot tall.

standing on granite rock wilsons promontory

What's interesting is the track is quite easy to follow within this section, but it seemed to go in the opposite direction of where the road is situated. At one point, we were running parallel with Five Mile Road, but going the wrong way. We were so tempted to take a straight ahead approach and lop kilometres off the wander, but being good blokes, we stuck with what was was marked and plodded along. Oh, we found a large, flattish granite rock. Mm... Maybe this was it?

granite rocks wilsons promontory

The fun had really gone out of the trip though, so we didn't stay long and after a bit more leg slashing excitement, we finally hit Five Mile Road. It may be dull, but at least we'd finally be injury free for the last leg.

Seeing the road where one has to walk, snake off into the distance like this, is quite the mental drainer. No wonder Smuffin was on his haunches, cursing himself for not bringing a gas oven along.

five mile road wilsons promontory

On though we stumbled, passing familiar trees on the way. I think I've got about 20 photos of this one, taken on multiple trips.

tree next to five mile road wilsons promontory

Then the car was sighted. In the history of mankind, no vehicle has ever been craved quite like the Japanese one we dragged our bodies to. Not even the Volvo PS1800 (2 door) which Napoleon used to escape the Battle of Waterloo could compare for its desire.

Is there anything left? Well, there is one final footnote to all of this. After loading the car and employing full, 'Ari-Vatanen-opposite-lock-mode' (FAVOLM. Yes, FAVOLM you bastards!!) on the gravel road in my longing to escape the great northern wander, we stopped at the Yanakie General Store for sustenance. Namely a big stinkin' burger. We both ordered the vegan edition with extra bacon. Smuffin also bought some sports drinks (beer) to wash down the magnificent beast between two buns (no, it's not a porn movie title). Really. It was a pretty special burger, but even now, we're not sure if it was good, or we were just seeking greasy sustenance to placate our damaged minds having been slashed to death in scrub for the last few days.

I did consider taking a photo of it, but somehow, before my artistic mind could grab the camera, the caveman part of my brain grabbed the burger in a fearsome two-handed grip and inhaled it. With burger in one hand and beer in the other, Smuffin was screaming louder than the moment when Carlton last won a Grand Final. I can't even think that far back? At the conclusion of this feast, I guess he was distracted by the deliciousness of the moment. In cleaning up, he threw out the burger wrappers, beer bottle, beer bottle cap and his Swiss Army knife. Out of all those things listed, which is the odd one out? Even now he's suspicious I knocked it off, even though I've had my own for about two hundred years.

Is that it? I think so. No matter what I've written, it's a great walk and best of all, in hindsight it didn't seem so painful after all. Isn't that always the way? Even this photo of my legs when I got home, doesn't make me wince. Where's Freud when you need him?

cuts on legs from hiking
Bringing sexy back to hiking. Blood and filth optional.

cuts on legs from hiking

Oh, don't be a dickhead like us. Wear long pants. Gaiters helped a little, but overall, shorts are verboten.