Saturday, 7 May 2011

Under Construction - North South Track

I've been staring at a map of Mt Wellington for a couple of weeks now wondering how far along the new section of the North South Track on Mt Wellington is towards completion.

The idea of walking up there and having an explore seemed like a good next step in testing how my knee was coming along, so I decided this week that today was the day, and my alarm was dutifully set for 6am.

I started out from The Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park around, 7am, just after sunrise and the mountain looked beautiful with the sun lighting up the organ pipes in a yellow light (check out the pic below which doesn't do it any justice).  I had both my wrist and normal GPS, but for some reason my wrist unit failed to pick up any satellites, so I was down to just my main Oregon unit.



I decided to take the conservative way up, so just followed the firetrail up to the Priest Trail / Merton Trail junction (really noticing the blood clot in my right calf on the way up the steep hills as my leg cramped) and from this junction I jumped onto the XC trail and followed this up to the top where it drops out onto Kangaroo Trail. 


Just as I approached the start of the new track two mountain bikers emerged and went pelting past me, and a minute later I met another two right at the trail head.  We had a bit of a chat and they assured me that I could walk through to junction cabin from here, if I just ignored the under construction signs, so this is what I duly did.

The track looks to be awesome (remember I'm still on foot here) and despite the "Track under Construction" signs appears from the tire tracks to be getting pretty heavy use already.  In fact over the course of my walk out and back to the cabin, I passed probably 15 - 20 riders which is a huge amount on these trails ... usually you might only see one or two others whilst out on the ride ... all those "No Cycling" signs must be attracting us.





The new trail isn't finished all the way to the cabin yet, but if you have a look at the pdf map you can get from the park all the way around to the Lenah Valley Fire Trail just above New Town Falls, and from there you can just follow the Lenah Valley Track to the cabin and jump onto the existing Stage 1 section of the track to the Springs.

What will forever more be known to me as Tiger Snake Rock

It took me about two hours to walk to Junction Cabin where there was a bunch of St Mary girls camping, and quite a few riders.  After a brief rest, where I managed to break the battery connection in my one working GPS whilst changing the batteries over, I turned tail (thinking of a late breakfast at Salt Cafe).  

Rather than cut back through the section of track under construction, I followed the original Lenah Valley Track as far as I could, then just cut through the section shown as completed (yellow in the pdf map) .  I saw three big tiger snakes within 10 metres of each other all basking in the sun on a rocky section just as I entered this section of the track, but otherwise it was just a pleasant walk back to Kangaroo Trail, and I took the opportunity to snap off some fun close up pictures on the way.





To finish off my walk, rather than just head back down the Priest Trail, I tried (and almost regretted) an exploratory route down a trail shown on my map which was supposed to run parallel to the downhill trail.  

The trail head was clear enough (single track) but the first section was extremely steep, and not designed for someone with two bad knees and walking sticks.  Still, I finally scrambled out of this section and emerged onto Merton Vale Track from which I was able to continue with a much easier descent down another trail, and eventually onto some single track which dumped me back out at the Mountain Bike Park ... some very sweet single track which I fully intend to get back out on when my bike is ready.  Such a shame my GPS was dead.

The only nervous bit of this walk was that as I descended further and further I got closer and closer to a gun range, and at one point it sounded like shots were all around me.  I had to keep assuring myself that they were in a quarry nearby and it was just weird echo's.





I got back to the car just after 11am, so pretty much a 4 hour return walk.  My knees were a bit tender, but I'd done some pretty decent tracks given my condition.  To be honest the only disappointment of the day was that my soy latte and open omelet at Salt Cafe were both pretty tasteless and bland,  Sigh.

Epilogue:  Technology wise, my day turned around a bit.  I dropped into Jaycar in Glenorchy to see if they sold battery terminals, which they didn't, but the guy there was great and went and ripped an old spring out of some 95 cent battery unit, and showed me how to jerry-rig a connection between the battery terminal and the battery ... he even gave me a couple of AA batteries ... now that's not bad for 95 cents.

I  also installed a new version of software onto my Forerunner 305 when I got home, and after doing this when I took it outside, it got a GPS fix almost immediately.  So hopefully, I'm back on track.

Finally, I dragged out my electric bike this afternoon and went for a bit of a spin down to the park and back ... As I type this I have the battery and lights on charge as I intend to start cycling to work again this week.  The knees were a bit tight, but I lifted the saddle about 7-8 mm to give me more pedal turn and I think I'll be able to get her home each night.

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