Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Coast Track August 2017

I was supposed to be all trained up and peaking for running GNW100's in September.  My choices were supposed to be between 100km or 100 miles.  Instead I was deciding whether I should walk or run 30km.

Weeks earlier I had been out on a training run, trying to be a gentleman and and not rush past two lovely ladies enjoying a quiet moment in the bush.  I slowed to walk past quietly, slipped on a rock and destroyed my ankle.  C'est la vie.

A one day adventure doing the Coast Track in the Royal National park had been on my "to do" list for a while.  I have walked it before over two days, and was keen to make it a day trip.  I was very hung up on going north (from Bundeena) to south (Otford), but the trains from Otford were infrequent.  After a while it did dawn on me to work on a south to north plan, which gave me a ferry and a train every half hour up until 6pm.  Much better.

Now I just had to see if my ankle could last 30km. 

Of course a true adventure needs to have extra elements to make it more interesting.  First off dilly dally around at home and catch 9 am train not 7am, thus adding some time pressure.  Have young child jump on train in front of parents, just as the doors close, leaving 3 year old girl screaming in terror as Mum runs alongside moving train screaming hysterically for train to stop.  Train stops, family reunite and sit crying together.  A wonderful start to the day.  Got the nerves jangling nicely.

Arriving at Otford, I began doing sums in my head.  It was about 11.30am.  Worst option was everything going wrong, missing last ferry and sleeping on beach at Bundeena (in my world this actually counts as a "plan").  Next worst was walking painfully and sneaking in at the last minute.  Best option was ankle holds up and I trot along slowly and have a lovely day out.

I began by walking to start of track and warming up the ankle.  Good so far.  Saw a deer by the road, and an echidna in the bush. Lovely.  All warmed up I began to run, and immediately rolled ankle again (I have deleted all the rude words).  After a bit more walking, I began to run again (and this was the last problem all day).   I trotted along the fire trail before the (right) turn east onto the single track down through the Palm Jungle.  This brought me down to the coast and the new boardwalks. 

My first time along the Coast Track, it was a maze of eroded tracks.  Since then it has been upgraded beautifully with some great boardwalks and stone work.  The old track is still clearly visible and a reminder of how much damage was being done by countless feet and erosion.  My first time through was a muddy horrible slogfest, and I remember thinking it would be a while before I returned.  So much better now.  The only problem being a visual trick that made it hard to pick out where the board walk changed level and trying not to fall. 

I ran, walked, took photos.  On the Curra Moors I watched black cockatoos up high while thousands of tiny honey eaters flittered through the scrub all around me.  I wasted so much time trying to get a photo of one of the little black and yellow dots, but each time I got close enough - "poof" - like magic off they went.  I could stand and watch them, but when my camera came up - "poof".  All gone.  As the sun began to descend I satisfied my photographic urge by playing silly buggers with shadows instead and practicing taking selfies.  It was also a day of incredible cloud formations which no photo could quite capture.

Heading into Wattamolla, the pace slowed as the pedestrian traffic increased.  Approaching Wedding Cake Rock the tourist madness was in full swing.  Not helped by many walking head down looking at their phones *sigh*.  Some even had hipster hip hop rap dance music blaring as they walked along enjoying the serenity.  Wedding Cake Rock itself was madness, the hideous security fencing proving no deterrent whatsoever as countless hordes scrambled over to take the same photos as they did before the fencing was erecting.

At this point I was travelling much better than anticipated and began thinking about 4.30 ferry, with possibly fish and chips at Bundeena.  The only catch was going so much faster than everyone else.  It seemed no matter how many times I tried to make extra noise with heavy foot steps, coughing, sneezing, sniffing...etc, people were so switched off.  On wider sections where I managed to pass they would leap in fright.  Approaching one large group I tagged along stamping, coughing, sneezing, sniffing, throat clearing until eventually the last person turned and jumped in fright (am I a freaking ninja ?).  He in turned frantically tapped the next person who turned and jumped in fear.  This shoulder tapping/ turn/ leap in fear ritual continued until it reached the woman walking at the front of the group.  She received a frantic shoulder slapping and shouts to "look out ! look out !", which caused her to scream and begin slapping herself wildly as she obviously imagined a large spider had landed on her.  She eventually noticed me and stopped.  I said "it's OK, it's just me", whereupon she promptly began shouting and beating on the head of the man behind her - possibly her soon to be ex-boyfriend.

The track widened to fire trail, and I was ale to run along freely until I entered the streets of Bundeena, a lovely slice of classic Aussie lifestyle.  An old mate was standing in the street living the dream in his baggy shorts, hedge clippers whirring in one hand, Tooheys New in the other. I got an old mate nod as I went past.

Looking down onto Bundeena I could see the 4pm ferry at the wharf with only a few more to board.  I put the foot down to try and make it.  I flew past the best smelling fish and chips ever cooked in a desperate rush to make to ferry.  A group out the front of the shops yelled "run Forrest run".  All the fisherman on the wharf were now watching as I ran closer.  Don't let me miss the ferry now.  I arrived just as the last passenger was stepping on.  Safely on board, I slumped in a mucky heap, trying not to drip sweat on anybody as I finished the last of my water and ate a squashed melted muesli bar. 

A lot is written about running versus walking.  I prefer a good walk, but running works a treat some days.  I slept in, had an extra coffee, and still got a big day out.  As the day unfolded I watched waves crash, gazed up at escarpments, passed through cabin communities, walked along beaches, ran through rain forest, skipped along cliff tops, watched whales out at sea and clouds in the sky, crushed and inhaled the scent of boronia, drank water from small streams - and home in time for dinner.  The ankle had survived (although it hurt next day).

Winner winner tofu dinner (I am a vegetarian).  Will have to do this again one day.
the journey begins - Otford up to Bundeena
along Garawarra Trail
down to the Palm Jungle
Palm Jungle
looking down to Figure 8 Pool
yep - Palm Jungle

looking back to North Era
Garie Beach

track from Little Garie to Garie
Garie Beach
old eroded track
new beautiful track

the Boronia looked and smelled amazing
across Curra Moors to Curracurong

Curra Moors alive with birds
Eagle Rock
the lovely Curracurong

plenty of water to drink
looking back (wistfully) to Curracurang

the clouds were amazing all day

Marley Beach (es) Big and Little

practicing selfie technique- pretty crap
better, but still rubbish.  maybe it's the model...
dunes behind Big Marley

Big Marley

fellow travellers on the trail

Wedding Cake Rock - love the security

obviously the safety fence works a treat...

...and it is so pretty the way it blends in with the environment...
safely arrived in Cronulla

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