dandenongs sunday

This weekend I couldn’t coerce any of my friends into driving us to a mountain so I took the train out to Upper Ferntree Gully again. I had my route planned out, and I went low-tech as I was trying to preserve my phone’s battery:
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There’s seemingly always hoards of people out there on the weekend, but hardly anyone off the main trails. Nothing makes me happier than being seemingly alone in the wilderness, and the weather was just perfect — sunny, breezy, around 20 degrees the entire afternoon. I caught a glimpse of the big city on the horizon between trees:
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It was a fairly steep climb but the tracks were very well maintained, all the way to Stoney Rise Walking Track. I found the track all right…
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Then turned the corner and it looked like this track was perhaps not as well maintained as the others.
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But I am made of sterner stuff, and luckily for me, it had rained just enough recently for there to be some mud. I hunted around until I found a footprint indicated other people had been this way too, and that was enough for me to keep going. The other advantage of it being slightly damp and muddy is that I didn’t have to worry about snakes.
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Stoney Rise was obviously named because it is steep and stony. There are a number of pictures of my stony ascent.
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I know they aren’t that fascinating, but I was amused because it just went on and on and on…

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At one point I crossed paths with a young man (which reassured me that it was a real path) and we smiled encouragingly at each other. A couple of minutes later I then met a young woman who did NOT look happy as she picked her way down. I half laughed (as best I could being so out of breath) and said “It’s a fun one this one, isn’t it?” and she answered with such sarcasm “Oh yeah I’m just LOVING it”. I know exactly how she felt — pretty sure she was with the guy who was doing a James up ahead…

Breathing hard… proper cardio workout here.
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FINALLY I reached the end… after Stoney Rise, the other paths seemed pretty easy in comparison. I made my way to One Tree Hill but couldn’t identify any particular tree as being The Tree. Then I braced myself to head back down the trails — my knees really hate downhills but they are going to have to get better at them. The physio explained to me yesterday that I’ve basically been using my quads to go down hills and stairs, when really I should be engaging my glutes. This is why my IT band is sore as hell, and why I have to do so many deep glute strengthening exercises. So I was careful to clench my glutes all the way down…

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The Thousand Steps were closed off! I wasn’t planning to go down them anyway, but it meant there were a lot more people on the Lyrebird Trail… so I decided to get back onto Bellview, then out down Lantern and the Boulevard. I was feeling quite smug as I didn’t see another soul (other than an echidna! echidnas are so gorgeous…).

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Another view of Melbourne:
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However things went a little wrong after that, as the Boulevard ended abruptly in suburbia and it took a bit of wandering around before I could find another trail. Fortunately for me, a mysterious gentleman in a red cap suddenly appeared in the middle of the trail in front of me, bursting from behind a fence. He must have been taking some kind of shortcut, as he went off in the undergrowth and I followed behind, discovering that you could slip between two locked gates that didn’t look big enough for a child… Anyway. I got to the station in the end: exactly 12km.

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I am going to sleep well tonight… So far in November I have tracked 20.5 hours of hiking, walking and cycling, climbing 2,947 metres and covering 152km. Just 34 days to go before Kathmandu!


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