Point to Pinnacle: D-day

322 days ago, on 31 December 2017,  I posted a photo of kunanyi from near the bottom of the university with the caption, “One day, Mountain, I will walk to your summit”.IMG_8514

Today, I did it.

I didn’t specifically have the Point to Pinnacle in mind when I posted that photo and I didn’t have a time frame for doing it. It was just in the back of my mind as a “someday” thing.

When I signed up for the Point to Pinnacle in August I had every intention of following a training plan leading up to the event, doing lots of hill walks and feeling completely prepared to do the walk. I didn’t stick to the plan, I didn’t do lots of hill walks and, in the past month, have done very few morning walks at all. For someone who normally walks every day, I’ve found my lack of motivation very unusual and out of character, especially leading up to a 21.1 km walk up a 1270 metre high mountain.

So I didn’t feel prepared and was not-so-secretly worried that I wasn’t going to make it. There’s a time limit of 4 hours 40 minutes for the walk and I wasn’t at all confident about my hill-readiness. However, I’d signed up, I’d told people I was doing it and I’d found someone I knew a couple of days ago who said she’d walk with me. I was going ahead with it.

When I got to the casino, I could see the top of kunanyi was shrouded in mist and it seemed so far away. How was I going to do this? I’ve wondered this every time I’ve walked along Sandy Bay Road and looked up there. How is this possible?

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I’m walking up there???

The reported temperature on the summit was “feels like minus three”. I packed a jacket and gloves in my gear bag, which the bus takes to the top so the participants don’t have to carry stuff they don’t need on the walk (or run).

The walk started at 7am, after a warm-up and briefing. I have no idea how many walkers there were but there were a lot and I was in the middle of a huge pack of people trying to make their way as quickly and efficiently as is possible for a huge pack of people to get through a not-very-wide timing arch. It was happening. I was doing it.

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Getting ready to go

I caught up with my friend along Sandy Bay Road and we kept up a steady pace as we made our way to Davey Street. I felt a bit (not) sorry for the cars who hadn’t gotten to the Southern Outlet before it closed and were banking up along the road. I have no idea what happens in these situations; whether they let people through when there are gaps in the packs or if the cars just have to stay there until the roads reopen.

The walk was just as I remembered it from two months ago but without the cars and the fear that I could be run off the road at any time by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. This was definitely the way to do it! Allowing for the congestion at the start, which slows things down a bit, my revised goal was to get to the turnoff to kunanyi in one hour 45. We did the 9.7 km in one hour 48, leaving two hours 52 to do the final 11.4 km. We were both confident of making it, but the hill was the unknown. I knew I could easily walk 11 km in three hours. On the flat. But the lack of hill training was scaring me.

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On the run photo of reaching the turn-off

There was only one way to find out!

Not far up the road, we were informed we’d passed the half-way point, and soon came to a 10km sign. I initially thought it meant we’d walked 10 km, which made no sense if we’d already passed half-way, but my friend pointed out that this was actually 10 km to go. Ohhhhh. I’m not at my brightest in the morning. We were walking through the mist we could see from the bottom and it kept it very cool and was nice conditions for walking in.

I was grateful for the bathrooms at the Springs because I needed a break and told my friend to keep going rather than wait and I’d catch her up because her pace was a bit slower than mine. I power marched up the hill to catch her. She’d said a couple of times that if I wanted to go on ahead to go because she was slower. I felt bad leaving but she said she didn’t mind and I hadn’t actually factored doing this with anyone else when I was planning, so I said if that was okay I’d see her at the top. And continued my power march.

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Brief photo stop

Six km to go and it was nearly 10.00. Three hours in, one hour 40 to go. At my normal pace, I would easily do six km in an hour. On the flat. For some reason, my lack-of-sleep addled brain thought that this meant I should be able to cover a kilometre in six minutes and I was expecting the five km sign in six minutes. I was very put out when it took just over ten. I finally clicked to the actual rate I was walking and set myself a goal of the final five km 50 minutes.  Every time I saw one of the red signs I was a little bit more relieved. The mist had gone in one spot and we were walking in bright sunshine for a brief period, but that was short-lived and the rest of the ascent was in mist. Much better for walking.

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The mist and the not-mist

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A brief sunny spell before the mist again

I was a bit horrified at thinking I was nearly there, and then seeing the last big turn in the road to the pinnacle and OMG people walking up there!

Finally, there was one km to go and the end was in sight. I got a bit muddled as to where the finish line was and I was trying to take photos as well as look glamorous for the race photographer and I’m sure the photo of me crossing the line will be me trying to work out why my video wasn’t working. Ha!

It was great crossing the finish line with all the people standing there cheering and, because the race bibs have your name on them, they’re calling out encouragement especially for you! What a way to end. I had the biggest smile on my face and was so happy to have made it to the top. I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse in a heap like I’d expected! I felt like it had been a nice, somewhat more strenuous but not impossibly so, walk than some of my usual Sunday walks. It certainly hadn’t justified the fear I’d felt before the event. My final time was four hours, two minutes, which, if you subtract the toilet break, would have been under than four hours.

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Thank you, unknown person, for taking my photo

I never thought I would do it in that time and I have a niggling thought that maybe, just maybe, I might want to go back and do it again next year so I can break the four hours.

I have 12 months to talk myself out of it!

On the way back down on the bus with my friend, who also made it in the time limit, yay!, we commented on how it seemed so unreal that we had walked up there. Back at the casino, looking up where we had been, it was like it had never happened.

I suspect my legs will tell a different story tomorrow.

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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.

 

Kensington Road runs straight for a while

Kensington Road runs straight for a while
Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia


The weather was no better this morning than it had been yesterday. In fact, it was probably worse. The wind is horrible and we’ve seen reports of some severe damage having been done across the state. I’m beginning to think this is a consequence of us being here, because there were huge storms across central South New Zealand when we were there last year.

We left Victor Harbor (the lack of a “u” is apparently a spelling error by an early surveyor that was never corrected), a bit disappointed to have missed the activities that we’d gone there for.

Never mind. There was wine just up the road, and we set our minds to finding some wineries in McLaren Vale. Not that this is especially difficult to do. Tempting as it would have been to visit lots, we had picked out just two (I know). First up was Maxwell Wines, the attraction of which was their maze. They make the Maxwell Mead that I’ve seen in bottle shops at home, as well as a decent selection of reds and a few whites. As usual, Slabs went for the reds and I tried the whites. All of them.

We didn’t get lost in the maze, so that was a bonus!

We thought we’d call in to Goodieson Brewery on the way to Fox Creek, but they weren’t open, so that was a no go. Slabs had chosen Fox Creek because he’d had one of their wines in Hobart, and I really enjoyed their Vermentino, which is an Italian grape variety I’ve never had before. They only sell that one through their cellar door.

Once wine had been tasted and procured, it was time for the last leg of our toad trip. On to Adelaide. With visions of Paul Kelly singing “All the king’s horses, all the king’s men . . .” we set out in search of Kensington Road where, according to the song, Mr Kelly was raised and fed. On the bend.

It’s a long long road, and it does run straight for a long while before turning. There’s a roundabout there, at the bend. We drove all the way to the end of the road, which ends on top of a hill. The view of the city would have been good except for all the trees in the way!

There were no sightings of wisteria on any back verandahs, or great aunts, either insane or dead, so we said farewell to Kensington Road and went to look for our hotel. The numbering on South Terrace is interesting, to say the least, with odd and even numbers on the same time of the road. This is right up there with the 30 minute time difference and schooners actually being middies for “things that are different in SA”. Also 25 km/h roadwork and school zone speed limits, which are probably a very good idea.

We checked into the hotel. Its restaurant is being renovated so we had to go to the restaurant at the Chifley down the road, Hanuman, which was amazing. I want to stay here for a week so I can try everything on the menu.

Don’t pay the ferryman

Don’t pay the ferryman
Victor Harbor, Australia

Victor Harbor, Australia


And so the predicted bad weather came upon us like torrential rain and gale-force winds, and we were safely tucked up in a cabin at the caravan park feeling not the least bit sorry for the people in campers. It really was foul weather and we were grateful that it hit after we’d done the almost 400km drive to Meningie. Because it would have sucked to have been driving in this.

We had breakfast in a cafe the town (and the carrot, turmeric and bacon soup was very nice) before we left. I was interested in the wood carving across the road, which was by sculptor Ant Martin from the nearby(ish) town of Millicent. It’s a 6.4 meter high pelican being fed a Murray cod by two children, and is said to symbolise reconciliation between Indigenous Australians and European settlers.

And then we were off on the (relatively) short drive to Victor Harbor (no u) on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We had to cross the Murray River at Wellington East. The ferry (which is operated by the SA Government free to punters) isn’t so much a boat as a motorised bit of road that floats back and forth across the river once there are enough cars to go. In our case, three. It was a strange experience. We were on a ferry but we hadn’t left the road!

We passed through some (of many) wine districts on the way but decided not to stop. Actually we did stop in Langhorne Creek, but the winery we’d wanted to visit wasn’t open, so we kept going. We had a brief stop at Middleton Arts & Crafts before finally getting to Victor Harbor.

There’s a lot of funfair rides and attractions set up for the school holidays and Slabs and Kramstable had a go on the dodgem cars. Unfortunately due to the wind, the ferris wheel wasn’t going because that would have been cool to go up above the town. The horse-drawn tram, which is a well-known attraction of the town also wasn’t running today because of the weather, which was disappointing as that’s one of the things that Slabs had seen when he was planning the trip that had made him choose here as a stop.

We had lunch at Nino’s Cafe, which seems to be a bit of a local institution, and were glad to have arrived and ordered just before a party of 14 kids and 16 adults arrived. The pizza was really good. As was the wine. What? Right, back to the story.

Kramstable had seen a brochure for the Cheeky Ratbags Play Cafe in the tourist centre and said he wanted to go. He has been great on this trip. There hasn’t been a lot of specific kid stuff for him to do and he’s put up with being dragged around to things he hasn’t necessarily been interested in himself and has had to sit in the car for very long stretches. This part of the trip was for him with the school holiday stuff happening, and the shithouse weather has put paid to a lot of that. So we took him out to the play centre and he had an absolute ball. It was great to see him enjoying himself with absolutely no constraints (even if I did have the worst headache and had forgotten how loud kids can scream when they’re having fun).

After we checked into our hotel we went for a wander over to the SA Whale Centre, where there are some fascinating displays, including a actual whale skull that is oozing whale oil and smells quite vile. There’s a interesting 3D presentation on whales, as well as an exhibit on the work of Sea Shepherd. Kramstable had fun fossicking for fossils and pretending to be eaten by a shark.

We’d missed the last Cockle Train to Golwa, so we wandered through the town before coming back to the hotel to rest up before dinner.

I did a quick walk around the harbour and had a look at the Encounter Poles, which is a monument commemorating the meeting of Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802 in Ramindjeri Ngarridjeri Waters, presenting three worlds and three cultures, connected through wind and water.

And it was a very very nice dinner, topped off with some lovely local wine. I think I rather like South Australia.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Apollo Bay, Australia

Apollo Bay, Australia


Today the road trip began. We said goodbye to the in-laws after breakfast and hit the road for the start of the Great Ocean Road: Torquay, surfer town. We stopped at Soul Fuel Cafe for coffee and, after a quick stop at the tourist centre, drove to Bells Beach, which we felt we had to go to because it’s, like, famous.

Did I mention it was raining? Sideways? Well it was, so it was perfect beach weather.

It rained all day as we made our way along the road. We went through Anglesea and stopped in Aireys Inlet to have a look at the Split Point Lighthouse. We decided not to do the tour and didn’t get out of the car in the end. What we saw of it looked nice. The plan is to have a look at Cape Otway Lighthouse tomorrow.

We went to the Aireys Pub, home of Rogue Wave Brewery, to sample some of their products. Decided not to stay there for lunch and drove through to Lorne, where we had lunch at the Lorne Hotel.

The brochures said that Lorne had heaps of waterfalls, so we went looking for Erskine Falls after lunch. On the way we stopped at Teddy’s Lookout, which has amazing views. Zoe and I were the only ones to get out of the car, and we braved the 100 metre walk to the lower platform in gusty winds and serious rain just to get a photo.

The rain got heavier the further up the hill we got, and we all decided that no one was going to get out of the car to find a waterfall in that, so we abandoned the waterfall chase and headed back to the highway to find our accommodation, just out of Apollo Bay.

The road was very windy and it was a slow trip in the rain, but the scenery was spectacular. We went through areas where the bushfires had obviously been earlier in the year, and several roadworks.

Our accommodation is beautiful. The views out to the coast are stunning and we had the best meal tonight. I have to admit defeat in the hummous world. Mine is good, but this one was sensational, and I need to know what they put in it! If I had more time (and a lot more money) I’d love to stay here for a week. This is our extravagant night for the trip and it’s glorious!

Walk in her shoes – 2 days to go

The Walk In Her Shoes challenge starts on Tuesday. I thought that Tuesday was a strange day to start, and it’s taken me several weeks to realise that Tuesday is International Women’s Day. Because the focus of the challenge is on helping to fund projects that “help reduce the distance women and girls have to walk by providing clean water and nutritious food close to home”, starting on International Women’s Day makes perfect sense.

Tuesday is one of the days I struggle to get my step count up, so that’s the biggest challenge straight up. If I can do 20,000 steps on Tuesday (which I will, somehow), I know I’ll be able to do it every day for a week. (Deep breath.)

Let’s see how my training has gone this week. (Spoiler: Not very well.)

My goal this week was 15,000 steps a day. (Disclaimer: I was travelling earlier in the week, so I found it more difficult to make the time to go for a walk. And I didn’t feel much like it.)

Monday – 8,045
Tuesday – 7,290 (add Monday and Tuesday together and you get 15,000!)
Wednesday – 17,234
Thursday – 20,506 (yay!)
Friday – 19,252
Saturday – 12,441 (the price of sleeping in)
Sunday – 7,922 or thereabouts

Next week will be a big step up. In the past I’ve been pretty much at my target steps before I started, so being a long way behind is a new feeling for me.  I know 20,000 steps a day is doable. I’ve done it before. I’ve done more than that. I can do it.

20160306 Weather ForecastAnd, from look of the forecast, I’m probably going to get soaking wet doing it, so I won’t be able to use my fancy new headphones to listen to music while I’m doing it. Oh well. The key is for me to remember why I’m doing this, and that should be enough to keep me going.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me and is supporting me. I appreciate it very much. If you’d like to contribute to Care Australia’s work, here’s a link to my sponsorship page.

Thank you!

12 of 12 November 2015

Thursday. Work day. Early start day, though it seems like there have been more early start days than not lately.

1 of 12 – Showers were forecast. They arrived.

1 of 12 - Umbrella

1 of 12 – Umbrella

2 of 12 – Yesterday’s haul of letters seeking further donations from charities I have donated to. Now attempting to get off their mailing lists.

2 of 12 - Mailing Lists

2 of 12 – Mailing Lists

3 of 12 – 3.10 pm. Still raining.

3 of 12 - Still raining

3 of 12 – Still raining

4 of 12 – Knopwoods Retreat. It’s closing down next month. It’s not closing down. It isn’t closing down but it won’t be Knopwoods.

4 of 12 - Knopwoods

4 of 12 – Knopwoods

5 of 12 – Appointment with my wonderful massage therapist, who, my neck and shoulders have been urgently informing me, I haven’t been seeing nearly enough.

5 of 12 - Massage

5 of 12 – Massage

6 of 12 – This was a car park. It was going to be an apartment building and car park. That’s all come to a screaming halt and it’s going to be a car park again.

6 of 12 - Carpark

6 of 12 – Carpark

7 of 12 – Post-massage drink at Preachers.

7 of 12 - Preachers

7 of 12 – Preachers

8 of 12 – 173 Macquarie Street. This was my dentist’s former office. I thought it was going to be done up and extended as part of a new hotel that was going to be built. It’s actually been demolished.

8 of 12 - 173 Macquarie

8 of 12 – 173 Macquarie

9 of 12 – Tour of the town time. The main street has its Xmas flags up. I used to get annoyed by Xmas stuff being around in shops and everywhere in October and November. I no longer care. It’s not important. Whatever floats your boat.

9 of 12 - Xmas

9 of 12 – Xmas

10 of 12 – McDonalds. This used to be a historic hedge that had to be retained as part of the conditions of approval of the development. It is now neither historic nor a hedge.

10 of 12 - Historic hedge is no more

10 of 12 – Historic hedge is no more

20151112-10B HIstoric Hedge is no more11 of 12 – The old timber yard. Still concretey.

11 of 12 - Timber Yard

11 of 12 – Timber Yard

20151112-11B Timber Yard12 of 12 – Dinner out. Just because.

12 of 12 - Dinner

12 of 12 – Dinner