Fastpack – Lerderderg track

I am going to just chalk in a short entry about my recent visit with Langdon to Lerderderg State Park. Now that I have two kids, a backlog of work the size of a small solar system and Berry Long Run coming up in three week’s time, there is precious little time for crafting an intricately detailed log of what was really a long, challenging, exciting and very fulfilling trip. Also, thanks to it raining torrentially at the start of day 1, my camera decided to have a drink, and discovered it was allergic to water. As such, the images from my trip are preciously few! And so, instead of the usual 20,000 word trip report detailing every single minute of the trip, I will just stick to the highlights.

Day 1 – Baccus Marsh – Square Bottle Track

Distance covered: Roughly 26.4km

Highlights:

  • Incessant rain which started pouring pretty much the moment we parked the car at Bacchus Marsh, and did not ease up (didn’t stop though!) until around 3am.
  • Getting lost in Bacchus Marsh (despite having both hardcopy maps and GPS), and taking almost an hour just to get out of suburban Melbourne!
  • Finally arriving at the trailhead only to discover that I had left my jacket pocket unzipped, and that my camera in that pocket was now swimming in a pool. There went any hopes of lots of photos.
  • Running along Blackwood Ridge, some stunning views along the way.
  • Sighting a pair of wild goats just before the turnoff to Foxy Gully track
  • Running through the heavy mist deep in the forest
  • Stopping to check the map inside an old train carriage dumped by the side of the road on Loh’s Lane
  • Collecting water from a muddy puddle to cook with after setting up camp at the head of Square Bottle Track
  • Discovering that water had started seeping through my tent fabric after an hour in the rain, and subsequently having to wake up every other hour to towel down the tent, both inside and out. All the way until dawn.
  • Finding a frog and a spider in my tent in the middle of the night (they let themselves in whilst I popped out to dry the tent.

 

Day 2 – Square Bottle Track – Blackwood – Cairns Rd, Wombat state forest

Distance covered: Roughly 28.5km

Highlights:

  • The rain taking a short break from around 9am to 10am, and then proceeding to rain incessantly again until around 4pm.
  • Putting my wet clothes from the day before back on, in the freezing cold wind.
  • The nice long descent down the first part of Square Bottle Track
  • Crossing the creek at Whisky Gully
  • Langdon ditching his wet clothes at various locations around Blackwood to reduce weight (we came back to retrieve them after the trip)
  • Nearly succumbing to hypothermia during a short water stop at the Blackwood Hotel. It was almost a wasted stop as the entire town’s amenities were down thanks to a power failure. Thankfully, with some encouragement from Langdon, I managed to get going and warmed up again.
  • More dreamy,  misty forest tracks in Wombat State Forest
  • A really nice, long descent down Rat Hole Track from Camp Road to Cairns Road.
  • Trying to sleep under the roaring wind, half worried that some massive tree branch was going to dislodge itself and end my life.
  • Accidentally knocking my dinner over just after it had finished cooking, and having to scrape the  top layer off the ground and back into the pot so I could at least have something to eat.
  • The rain starting up again at 9:30pm and not stopping at all until 8:30am the next day. It was another night of towelling. Thankfully there were no unwanted guests this time.

Day 3 – Somewhere along Cairns Road, Wombat State Forest – Daylesford

The second part of the GPS log for day 3 (watch ran out of battery)

Distance covered: Roughly 23.4km

Highlights:

  • Starting out the day in my sleeping clothes, which were relatively warm and dry.
  • Taking a wrong turn just 2km in, adding an extra 4km / 45 minutes to our journey.
  • Running through ever changing primary and secondary forest, seeing traces of historical logging activity. It felt good to see how well the forest was recovering – it was almost as if it was doing its best to erase any trace of the destruction brought about by humans.
  • Running along trails that, in the heavy rain, doubled up as creeks.
  • Having to cross or circumnavigate numerous little ponds, some up to knee deep, that had formed in the middle of the trail throughout the trip.
  • Trail bashing through the forest where the original single track was overgrown and had also suffered severe storm damage.
  • Seeing the first signs of civilisation approaching Jubilee Lake
  • The waterfall draining Jubilee Lake into Wombat Creek
  • The lovely flowing bit of singetrack on a sheer hillside that followed Wombat Creek
  • Looking out over Daylesford town from the Argus Street lookout
  • The agonising 1 km along the sealed streets of Daylesford just before arriving at the lake. Clearly our feet were now very much accustomed to running on lush, soft natural surfaces.
  • The scenic half-lap round the Lake Daylesford.
  • Seeing Langdon’s car waiting for us right where we had left it three days prior.
  • Changing into clean clothes and a warm fleece top.
  • Hot food at the Himalaya Bakery and Cafe in Daylesford.
  • Coming home to my family and a hot shower after a long and uneventful drive.

On the whole, I learned a lot from this trip about dealing with rain and the cold. I also gained plenty of information about fine tuning my fastpacking gear, and should be able to shed some further weight. I am also in the process of looking for a new shelter that will better protect me from the rain.

More importantly, despite it raining for at least 36 of the 50 or so hours we were out there, I had a tonne of fun. It was great having Langdon along for the trip, and certainly if not for some encouragement on day 2, I may well have pulled the plug there and then. The company and much banter was very much appreciated, and having someone along with strong, different views (Langdon is a very passionate vegan/animal rights activist), there was plenty to discuss and learn about someone else’s different perspective on many areas of life.

We are tentatively planning to do a through trip of the 650km Australian Alps walking track, and so it was a good tester to see if we could get along, and so far, so good! I suspect though, being the typical introverts that trail runners usually are, that if we do pull that off, we might be quite sick of each other’s company after 3 weeks. So, best to get some more joint miles done in the coming months to up our social stamina!

And so went my last multi-day adventure for the better part of a year, or at least until AJ gets a little older and more manageable. One can only hope that will come sooner. Until then, it’s back to regular running and the grind of work and parenting. Next up, and just round the corner – Berry Long Run 70!

 

 

 

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One Response to Fastpack – Lerderderg track

  1. Langdon says:

    Thanks Chris for bringing back many of the small details that made the run so special. Plus some I don’t remember – eg I’m not sure you told me you spilled your dinner on the second night! I thought our social stamina (had to chuckle at this one) held up very well considering it was the first time either of us had tried anything like this. I have some rather poor-quality video to share from the trip (the casing for my GoPro is scratched, I didn’t realise how badly at the time) – I’ll get this online when I can. Looking forward to our next run together, whether it’s for 2 hours or 2 weeks 🙂

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