Point to Pinnacle: Truganini Track

Sunday 12 August (97 days to go)

Not far from my house is the Truganini Track, which is a 2.1 km medium grade bush walk from the Cartwright Reserve on Sandy Bay Road up to the Mt Nelson Signal Station, an elevation of 350 metres. Ever since I found out it was there, I’d wanted to walk it and I put it on my list of things I was going to do this year.

Lils Sis said she’d do it with me, so we booked in a day to do it and I was ready. Then on Thursday, she pulled out because she wasn’t feeling well. I was already committed so I decided to do it by myself. I need to get some hill walks in before the Point to Pinnacle and I thought this would be a good test of my ability.

For some reason, I’d thought it was a two-hour one-way walk so I thought I’d need a whole morning to do it and that I’d get there in time to have coffee and get Slabs to come and pick me up late morning.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, but as I was trying to talk myself into getting up I realised I didn’t need to leave until it was light. It would have been stupid to go on a bushwalk in the dark! So I left home at about 7.00 am. The first part of the walk was easy, along the main road to the start of the track. Then the proper walk began. 

The forest was very thick almost from the very start but the first thing I noticed was that I could hear chickens, so even though I was surrounded by forest and couldn’t see any houses, I could tell I was very close to civilisation.

According to Tastrails this is wet sclerophyll forest and this section “can often be quite muddy after wet weather”. I can confirm this is 100 per cent true. It was very muddy and slippery and I learned from experience that cutting grass is not a good thing to hold onto if you think you’re about to fall.20180812 Truganini Track 06 edit copy It occurred to me after that incident that I didn’t have a first aid kit and I had no plan for what I’d do if I actually injured myself on this track. I was fairly confident that wouldn’t happen but you hear all these stories about underprepared bushwalkers getting lost and having to have Search & Rescue come and look for them and I was doing this walk alone on a track I didn’t know and . . . Barb, the track is two kilometres. You are no more than a kilometre from a main road wherever you are. There are relatively new looking footprints on the track; people probably come through here every day. You have a phone; you aren’t in the wilderness. If anything happens someone will find you pretty quickly.20180812 Truganini Track 07 edit copyOkay, that sorted I carried on. It’s definitely not an easy climb. Apart from the slipperiness, many of the steps are big, especially for someone with short legs like me, so climbing was awkward. It was also rocky underfoot, so not the most comfortable walk.20180812 Truganini Track 10 edit copy As you continue on the walk, the forest changes to dry sclerophyll and you can start to see glimpses of the river between the trees. You can see that you’ve climbed a long way (if you weren’t already feeling it in your legs and your breath).20180812 Truganini Track 11 edit copyAs I got closer to the top, I noticed a structure and realised I was back near civilisation. I have no idea what this was, but the track started to flatten out. 20180812 Truganini Track 12 edit copyI came across the Truganini Memorial, which is dedicated to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their descendants. This was very simple and moving. I realised I was at the end and it had taken me less than an hour to complete the climb. It was only just 8.30 and the coffee shop wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to see. The view wasn’t very clear. I took a couple of photos but they weren’t very good because the sky was misty.

I was glad to have made it to the top and ticked this trail off my list. It was a nice, challenging Sunday morning walk.

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Point to Pinnacle part 3

A backlog of posts about my Point to Pinnacle experience, being a not overly fit, desk-bound, not-getting-any-younger casual walker. 

Friday 3 August (106 days to go)

I’m going to try to follow the 12-week training plan they have suggested for the event. So that means I’ll start it in the week of 27 August and I have three complete weeks to work up to the level where I can start it.

I notice that this doesn’t say all competitors need to go to their GP. It’s more gentle and suggests

If you are over 35 and haven’t been exercising for a while have a check up with your GP and let him/her know what you’re planning. You will be met with great support, however, it pays to make sure you know where your true starting point is.

Well, I’m over 35 but I walk every day, so that’s exercise, right? I think I’ll be okay. Right?

I’ve put my “half marathon” on 18 November into Runkeeper. It’s now an official goal!

I’m going to start logging my walks. For now, I will do two km every morning with an aim to do it under 20 minutes and start building up my Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday walks. I’ll also walk to the top of our street as an add-on to each two km walk to start getting some hills in.

Monday 6 August (103 days to go)

I went out at lunch time to get some new shoes. My Asics are older than I’d thought. I got them in 2014. I told the girl what I was planning and she said she was going to do it too. She said she’d moved here from Melbourne and had never heard of it before she got here, so it’s her first time as well. But she is young and looks fit! She says she’s going to attempt to run it.

I am going to attempt to not die.

After a few pairs of shoes that weren’t quite right, including some Brooks, which I really liked but were just too slippy on my feet, I settled on some adidas. She said they are super cushiony because they have this technology which means you don’t step on the same part of the cushioning two times in a row, so it makes the shoes last longer. Yay!

Tuesday 7 August (102 days to go)

20180807 Walking my runners to work edit

I walked the old shoes into work this morning to keep under my desk and inspire me to go walking at lunchtime instead of spending all my money in bookshops.

What are my chances?

Point to Pinnacle Part 2

A backlog of posts about my Point to Pinnacle experience, being a not overly fit, desk-bound, not-getting-any-younger casual walker. 

Wednesday 1 August

The Point to Pinnacle entries opened today. I thought I had set myself up a reminder at 7.00 am so I’d remember to go in and enter pretty much as soon as the website went live. Unfortunately, I hadn’t and I completely forgot about it. I’d only set it to come up in my to-do app as a task for today, so I didn’t see it until later in the evening.

I saw the reminder. “Oh shit,” I thought. It’s today.”

I went to the website and had a read through the information there. It all seemed perfectly reasonable. Nothing scary here at all . . .

The toughest half-marathon in the world

The course is 21.1km long and just over 1,270 metres in elevation

This race is physically challenging . . .

All competitors MUST BE PAST the junction of Davey Street and the Southern Outlet by 8:40 am.

All competitors MUST BE PAST the turn onto Pillinger Drive off Huon Road by 9:40 am.

All competitors must complete the course by 11.40am (Walk: 4 hours 40 minutes).

Any competitor who has not completed the course by 11.40am will be instructed by Tasmania Police to hop on the final bus as it comes down the mountain.

WARNING: We advise all competitors to contact your GP before undertaking the Point to Pinnacle.

A medical warning in bold caps. “World’s toughest half marathon”. “Physically challenging . . .”

Is this really a good idea?

It was late and I figured it could wait until tomorrow.

But I knew what would happen if I left it until tomorrow. Tomorrow would become the next day, and that would become the day after until it became the day the event sold out and I couldn’t sign up. No. If I was going to do this, I was committing right here and now. No excuses.

So, I did it, and now I have 108 days to get into shape for this.

There’s a 12-week training program they recommend. Now I have no excuse. I’ve paid my money, I’m committed. I HAVE to do it.

Point to Pinnacle part 1

A backlog of posts about my Point to Pinnacle experience, being a not overly fit, desk-bound, not-getting-any-younger casual walker. 

27 July 2018

I like to walk. I go for a 20-minute walk every morning and aim to walk at least 12,000 steps every day.

Occasionally, I sign up for organised walks like the City to Casino Fun Run (and Walk) and have participated in CARE Australia’s Walk in Her Shoes challenge, which is a walking challenge to raise funds for CARE’s work with women in developing countries.

These have all been reasonably gentle events that haven’t been overly physically challenging for me.

However, there is one event that I’ve thought about participating in for several years and never made the commitment to because it’s beyond the next level for me.

The Point to Pinnacle is described as:

the toughest half-marathon in the world, and for good reason, with just over 1270m of ascending, gradients above 10% and extreme changes in climate and weather conditions. The event is a challenge of the human spirit and allows people of all ages and abilities to be involved through our walk or run. It is now one of Tasmania’s iconic events that draws many people from interstate and internationally each year. (2018 Point to Pinnacle Event Book)

The course starts at Wrest Point Car Park and goes for 21.1 km to the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

I was walking with a friend in the City to Casino earlier this year and mentioned I was considering entering this event. I said that I’d thought about it but never done it. She said something along the lines of, you don’t do it by thinking about it. She had a point, and I thought maybe this would be the year I’d do it. But I wasn’t sure.

Fast forward to today and I had to see the HR guy who had coordinated my work’s participation in the City to Casino. I had to return a shirt that my sister had refused to wear. (I don’t blame her; they were most unflattering). I handed the shirt back, he thanked me and I wondered for a brief second if I should go back to my desk or if I should say something about how much I had enjoyed participating in the race and how good it was for work to be supporting things like this.

I did neither.

“I’m going to do the Point to Pinnacle,” I blurted out.

Brain-mouth disconnect. Why would I tell anyone that?

He looked at me in what I can only describe as horror*.

“I could never do that,” he said. This from a guy who is, I imagine, because he ran the City to Casino, fairly fit.

Instant fear struck my heart. If a fit, young(er than me) guy said he wouldn’t attempt it, what in hell made me think I could do it? Up until then, I’d imagined it would be difficult (because hills) but not overly impossible for someone with my level of fitness to do. I know people who have done it and haven’t died, so I know it’s possible. I semi-regularly do 10 km walks so I know I’m not entirely unfit. However, this is double that distance and involves a mountain. It’s not exactly the same thing.

“I’m walking it,” I said.

I don’t think that needed to be said. A quick glance at my physique would tell anyone I’m not a runner, let alone a runner who runs 20 km up mountains.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well I look at it like this,” I continued because I’d got myself into this conversation and now I had to end it. “It’s in about three months, so if I sign up, I’ve committed and I have to do it so I’ll have to train for it. There won’t be any getting out of it.”

“Yeah,” he said, looking less than convinced.

I am now doubting myself bigtime. Is it going to be a hell of a lot harder than I had thought? Am I completely crazy to think I can do this?

Registrations open next week. I have set a reminder to sign up. Am I going to do this? Am I going to let someone else’s reaction stop me?

No, I am not. I’ll never know if I can do it unless I try. I have enough time to prepare. I’m committed and I’m doing it.

 

*HR guy’s reaction may be slightly overstated for dramatic effect.

Southwest Tasmania Day 2 (part 2)

Read part 1 here.

After lunch, we headed off in the opposite direction with the intention to see the Red Knoll Lookout. It starts with a 40km drive back the way we’d come yesterday to the turnoff to Scotts Peak Dam.

About 2.5 km along the unsealed road was the Creepy Crawly Walk. Here we were back to the nice walks with formed tracks and duckboard. I won’t include any spoilers but the track is aptly named.

After that lovely stop, which was closer to a 10-minute walk than the 20 minutes we expected, we continued for another 32 km or so past Edgar Dam and Scotts Peak Dam at the eastern end of the lake. Scotts Peak Dam was built to dam the Huon River. At 43 metres high, it’s only a baby compared to the Gordon Dam. Edgar Dam is even smaller, 17 metres. There’s no public access to either of these dams walls.

20180712-131 On Scotts Peak Dam Road

View from Scotts Peak Road

Passing the two dams, the road takes you to Red Knoll Lookout.

20180712-142 Junior at Red Knoll Lookout

Kramstable working out where he is

It’s a place you’d want to spend an entire day, from sunrise to sunset, watching the light changing and photographing the different moods of the rocks and the mountains. And probably more than one day because of the fog in some places and the clouds over the mountains. It’s not the sort of place to visit once and say you’d seen it.

20180712-154 Red Knoll Lookout

Scotts Peak Dam

20180712-155 Red Knoll Lookout

Scotts Peak Dam

But it wasn’t that type of holiday so we didn’t stay long. (Longer than the guy who turned up, parked his car in the spot I was taking photos, wandered round for a couple of minutes and then left.) I got some nice enough photos but I can see the potential for a lot better ones another time.

There are more photos from Red Knoll Lookout on my photoblog.

We made a couple of stops by the Sentinels on the way back for more photos in the afternoon light (you can see more of the photos here).

20180712-185 The Sentinels

The Sentinels Day 2

Our final stop was Teds Beach just out of Strathgordon. It’s a basic camping area with electric barbecues and some nice lake views. It was getting a bit dark for decent photos with a hand-held camera by this time.

20180712-198 Teds Beach copy

Teds Beach late afternoon

 

Southwest Tasmania day 2 (part 1)

This morning’s plan was to wake up early—well, as early as I’d need to when the sun rises close to 8 am—and take some sunrise photos over the lake. This plan was somewhat thwarted by the fact that everywhere was enveloped in fog and the sun was nowhere to be seen.

20180712-011 Silhouettes in the fog at the lookout

At the Lake Pedder Lookout

Never mind, I’d heard that fog was good for photos so I was excited for what the morning might present.

Our plan was to go to Gordon Dam, which is at the end of Gordon River Road, about 12 km from Strathgordon.

A little bit of context. Lake Pedder was once a natural lake but has been in its current form since 1972 when the Gordon, Serpentine and Huon rivers were dammed as part of Tasmania’s hydro electric development. The power scheme includes the Gordon Dam on the Upper Gordon River and the three dams that form Lake Pedder (aka the Huon-Serpentine impoundment): the Serpentine Dam, the Scotts Peak Dam, which dams the Huon River, and the Edgar Dam. It’s 242 square km and 2960 million cubic metres in capacity. It’s 16 metres deep over the original Lake Pedder and 26 metres deep at its deepest part, just behind the Serpentine Dam.

The water from Lake Pedder flows into Lake Gordon through the McPartlan Pass Canal, a 2745-metre long canal between the two lakes, and is used in the Gordon Power Station, which is built 183 metres underground.

The original Lake Pedder had been a National Park but the Tasmanian Government revoked that status in 1967 to enable the Hydro development to proceed. There was considerable opposition to this development from the conservation movement both in Australia and internationally and it saw the birth of the first Green political party in the world. Then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam also opposed the dam and offered compensation to Tasmania to preserve the area. Since then there have been calls to drain the artificial lake and restore it to its original state.

We left the lodge in the fog and continued along the Gordon River Road. Our first stop was the Lake Pedder lookout, about two km up the road. It had one of those cool directional signs that tells you what mountains you’re looking at. All very well when you can actually see the mountains but not when everything is immersed in fog.

Nevertheless, there were some cool fog photo opportunities.

20180712-003 Silhouettes in the fog at the lookout

Sunlight and fog

Continuing along Gordon River Road for another seven km, you reach the turnoff to the Serpentine Dam. From there, it’s a short drive to the boat ramp. By now, the fog was starting to lift, so it was amazing to make photos half in fog and half in clear blue sky.

20180712-035 Serpentine Dam

Serpentine Dam from near the boat ramp

There was no wind and only a slight ripple on the water so the reflections were amazing. Parts of it reminded me of the reflections in the River Derwent along Boyer Road.

20180712-028 Serpentine Dam the other side

Serpentine Dam

This dam was constructed in 1971. It’s a concrete-faced rockfill dam, which is basically a compacted rock wall that is made waterproof by a thin layer of concrete on the upstream face (the left side in this picture). The wall is 41.5 metres high at its highest point and 134 metres long. It contains 114 000 cubic metres of rockfill.

20180712-043 Serpentine Dam wall

Serpentine Dam Wall

Our destination was literally at the end of the road, the Gordon Dam, a further three km from the turn off. Completed in 1974, it’s 140 metres high and is the highest arch dam and the largest storage dam in Australia. It’s curved both horizontally and vertically, which apparently allowed them to use less concrete to construct it, reducing the overall cost. The horizontal arch is apparent from the photos, the vertical one not so much, but the dual arch explains why it doesn’t look straight.

Lake Gordon, created by the dam, was still shrouded in fog so it was impossible to see how big it was, but we could see the dam wall itself, which is pretty impressive.

20180712-060 Lake Gordon

Lake Gordon

Apparently, people abseil off it.

I thought that sounded cool.

When I was at home in my lounge room.

When I got there and looked at it I was grateful I hadn’t decided to book in to do this. I was petrified just walking down the steps to get to the top of the wall where you’re allowed to walk.

20180712-100 Looking down on the Gordon Dam wall

Don’t look down! They are people down there . . . yes, you are going down there

I was glad when I got to the bottom of the steps. Walking on the wall wasn’t anywhere near as scary as walking down to the wall. It’s an amazing structure.

20180712-092 Looking down on the Gordon Dam wall

Gordon Dam wall

The climb back up is a lot less terrifying than the climb down and there’s a nice lookout at the top that you’d probably get great views from on a clear day. This was not a clear day. Still, it was a good experience and we were glad we’d made it.

There are more photos of the Serpentine Dam and the Gordon Dam on my photoblog.

 

Southwest Tasmania Day 1 (part 2)

In the first week of the school holidays, we took a few days off and travelled to Strathgordon on Lake Pedder in the southwest Tasmanian wilderness.

You can read about our first stop on the way, at The Needles, here. Or if you just want to look at some photos, they are also here.

Not much further down the road towards Lake Pedder is another spectacular range called The Sentinels. It’s a quartzite range about five km long and one km high.

It would seem the most common reaction of people seeing it for the first time as they drive round the bend is, “Wow!”

That was certainly my reaction, and I insisted we stop immediately so I could take some photos.

20180711-057 The Sentinals copy

Wow!

20180711-062 The Sentinals copy

The Sentinels Day 1

That had to be the most jaw-dropping thing I’d seen all day and I certainly got my huge rock fix!

This was one of several photo stops here over the next couple of days. You can find the complete series of photos on my photoblog Straighlinesgirlimages. Or stay tuned for more posts here.

Our accommodation was the Pedder Wilderness Lodge at Strathgordon. Strathgordon was constructed in 1969 to accommodate the workers on the hydroelectric scheme (more on that in the next post). Apparently, it accommodated about 2000 people when the scheme was under construction but the population now is about 70.

We’d booked one of the self-contained units at the very reasonable rate of two nights for the price of one. Winter travel has its benefits. Our plan was to self-cater for breakfast and lunch then splash out at night and have dinner at the restaurant. It was a good plan. Because who wants to cook on holidays? Not me.

20180711-068 Lake Pedder at the lodge

Lake Pedder behind the lodge

20180711-078-Helipad-at-the-lodge

The helipad. No unauthorised landing.

I managed to capture some images of the lake in the afternoon sun as well as seeing the beautiful light on the hillside as the sun was setting.

20180711-092 Hills near the lodge

Beautiful afternoon light on the hills

20180711-084 Hills near the lodge

More giant rocks

The lodge has become popular with the local ravens, who seem to have no fear of people and are quite happy to pose for photos. And steal food, we were informed.

20180711-109 Raven at the lodge

Raven shows no fear

We ended the day with dinner at the lodge and were all looking forward to the next day’s adventures.