Saturday, 30 April 2011

Huon River

Today I discovered genius.

Specifically the genius of a boat that is designed to sink.  Yes, I realised that on face value that doesn't sound particularly brilliant, but stick with me.

As I've just discovered, the purpose of an ocean ski isn't to cruise around and take photos (my intended purpose).  The purpose of an ocean ski (which I'd know if I had bothered to do any research at all) is to go fast and well that's it really.

What better way therefore to motivate and impel you to travel fast and apddle forward than to create a boat that sinks 30 seconds after you stop paddling?  See, that's genius.

Specifically (if you're wondering what the heck I am going on about), my new Epic V8 has a small drainage hole in it near your feet which is intended to let the surf spray and other water drain out from your feet as you paddle forward.  The problem is of course, that the moment you stop going forward, all you are left with is a hole, and a boat with a hole in it just sinks.

This was a bit of a challenge for me on my first real paddle down the Huon River this morning as I had great dreams of taking pictures along the way.

As I discovered the reality is that you have just enough time to stop paddling, get out the camera, take two pictures, seal up the camera again (I had a non waterproof cameras as I left my waterproof camera battery in the charger when I took off this morning) and then get paddling again pronto.  Even with this strategy I soon ended up with a soaked backside and I seriously hated geniuses when I got out of the water with a kelvin rated body core temperature and a very, very sore right wrist.

That aside it was magnificent getting up early this morning, and thinking "I'm going off on an adventure".  Even the nervousness I felt last night about whether I'd capsize, or whether I could do the planned distance was sort of delicious in its challenge.

It was so great to get back to the little things, like stopping off at Subway for a brekky sub, sipping my soy latte as I drove down the road, and singing along to the chirpy tones of Lily Allen while everyone else around me was just waking up.  It was all just good.
Approaching Franklin
I put onto the water at about 8am on the Huonville Esplanade, and got off to a nervous start as I got used to the boats balance and the different paddling strategy required using a wing blade paddle.  It was king of embarrasing about a kilometre down the river as these super-human scullers zipped passed me in the opposite direction.  Fortunately I couldn't turn and watch them laugh at me as I was too afraid of capsizing.

Today's paddle was set to be a modest, yet challenging, 30km paddle from Huonville to Glaziers Bay (7 Inch Beach to be exact) and back, criss crossing egg island using several natural channels and of course the old ferry way just off Franklin (See route here).  This was my stomping ground where I grew up as a kid, and hence my reason for choosing it as a safe first solo paddle location.

It was a beautiful morning, with an almost mill pond water surface.  I frequently spooked black swans and ducks as I glid past them, and there was a low, but appropriate light for the day as the occasional drop of rain fell.

Wooden Boat School at Franklin

I watched my sculling friends go past in the opposite direction just as I got to Franklin and took some photos, and I later got stuck on the mud bank as I tried to cut through a narrow channel I know about about half way down the Island because I mistimed the tide slightly, but overall it was just a nice day and a nice paddle.

Ferry Channel near Franklin

Natural channel through the island, just before I got stuck.

Approaching the turn around point, Seven Inch Beach (Glaziers Bay) where I grew up.

Seven Inch Beach (very cold)

The only real downside was that I started getting a very sore wrist on the way back, and it was really sore by the time I was home.  Stephan tells me that I paddled to far, and had my blade set too long, and my technique was probably wrong ... all of which are probably true, but all I know was that my wrist was very sore, and that's not the plan for my comeback.

Sunday will need to be a day of rest and recovery, but it was still great to get back out there even if it is a long, long way that I still have to go.

Monday, 25 April 2011

I walked

In any other part of my life, today's adventure wouldn't really rate a mention, but today I went for a walk, and today that is exciting, because today is the first time I've walked in nearly three months.

Yes, I've stumbled around inside my house, and over the last week I've even started walking around town a bit more, but for someone who two weeks ago hadn't walked more than 50 metres in a day for over ten weeks, my progress has been incredibly gratifying.

The basic timeline is that I went and saw a Physio on April 4, and he looked at my medical reports, and basically told me I was screwed (he's not very subtle), and would need surgery on both my knees, but that he'd wait to look at my update scan on my left knee on the which was taking place on Wednesday.

As you might understand I was a bit deflated by this prognosis, but holding on to a slim sliver of optimism, I went in to get my tendon scan done two days later.  

The nurse spent an awful long time scanning left and right, taking lots of pictures, until eventually she told me she needed to go and get the radiologist to come and have a look.  My heart was somewhere through the floor when the radiologist came in and started scanning around, I tried to be chatty and happy as I asked her how it was looking, and whether I'd be walking again soon, and you can imagine my elation when she told me that she couldn't find the tear in my tendon.  Yep, after looking everywhere for about five minutes, the radiologist said that if she didn't have the report in front of her confirming that there was a tear in the tendon above my left knee, then she'd say that my tendon was a little swollen, but otherwise it was 'normal'.  I've never thought 'normal' could be such a magic word.

Catching the bus.
I went and saw my Physio (Nev) again that afternoon.  He looked at the report, told me he didn't believe I'd torn it in the first place, but then told me to get that 'bloody red splint off' as it was time to get that knee of mine moving again.  

Nev's subtle like that.

It was actually kind of scary over the next week, first getting rid of the splint, then one crutch, and finally the second one.  Such basic things as going up and down stairs, walking along the pavement and getting on and off a bus all seemed so daunting the first time I did them, but I tackled each one, and alongside my physio and lots of swimming at Club Salamanca, I finally felt like I might be able to get out there and start enjoying life.

My second home ... Club Salamanca Pool

That's what brought me to today.  I had seen on a draft MTB plan that there was supposed to be a section of single track between Lauderdale and Cremorne running just behind the coast, and quite frankly that was annoying because I didn't know about it.  How dare there be a section of single track on my home turf that I didn't know about.   I therefore decided to sort two birds with one stone, and headed out to Anaconda first where I purchased some walking poles, then I continued onwards to Cremorne to go and check out this supposed track.

As it turns out there is a track that heads from the end of Cremorne beach (accessed via Frederick Henry Parade), and let me tell you it's a bit of a challenge climbing up over the rocks and around a bit of a goat track when you're hobbling along with a busted knee, but with a bit of improvisation I managed to make my way slowly up over the headland and onwards to Lauderdale.

I had checked out the map before leaving, and there did seem to be a crown coastal reserve most of the way to Lauderdale,  although one property seemed to run all the way down to the water.  Sure enough, about a kilometre from the beach I came to a fence with a "Trespassers Prosecuted" sign which put an early end to my walk.  Strangely though, I had been overtaken by a man walking his dog on the trail, and I never passed or saw him again, so either there is a way down to the coast that I didn't see or there is a way forward ...  For me though, on my sticks,  I had had enough of the challenge, and so hobbled back to the car via an alternate route which ran behind the houses ... just because it was a path I hadn't trod.

View back over Cremorne Beach

End of the line.

However, once back at the car, I felt a bit unsatisfied with the days effort so I decided to carry on down towards South Arm and check out some of the trail notes I had put together for the Tangara Trail.  Kind of glad I did as there have been a new "No Trespassing" sign pop up, and I realised that a few other sections of my track notes could do with a bit of an update.

I ended up walking the last section from Baragoola Lane back out along the coastline towards South Arm Conservation Area to see if the "No Trespassing" sign could be by-passed or what the next best option might be.  It was another pretty challenging hike on my poles, and I have a blister on my hand to prove it, but it was good to get back out there and do a little bit of exercise.

Mortimer Bay Track Head

It ain't graceful, but it is movement.

I was a very contented camper that night as I sat on the couch with my frozen peas on my knees.

I don't want to jinx myself ... but I could be on the way back.