We have started this week with a change in walkers. After Rhi’s physio pulled the plug on Rhi walking, I rang Mum (Chris).
“G’day Mum, how are you?” ”Fine” “How’s your legs?” “Okay” “Feet?” “Fine, why?” “Do you feel like going for a walk?”
As she has been training with us, and we had already been aware that Rhi may not be able to walk, she said in a similar fit of insanity to the one I had a few months ago … “Okay”.
We are at the stage now where we need to train with our Support Crew a few times. So, Bev, Steve and Rhi (see, she didn’t get out of it entirely), and Bev and Steve’s two boys, joined us this Sunday to practise their part of the activity. Our plan was to walk the 38 km from Checkpoint 2 at Lysterfield Lake to Checkpoint 5 at Mt Evelyn, where we will be sleeping on the actual day.
The day started off nicely, Rhi drove us all to our starting point and we set out at 9:30. The first leg was 13.3 km long and for about the first 7 km, the walk was relatively flat, along nice wide bush tracks and was very pleasant. Then it started to go up. We were heading to Belgrave after all so it had to happen at some stage. After reading some other teams’ blogs, we were expecting nasty things on this leg, and although there were some steep bits and some very steep bits and the occasional extremely steep bit, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated (which I suspect says more about what we expected than about the track). The bit just past the Puffing Billy was the extremely steep bit with a gradient of 23%. Yep, that slowed us down a tad. Then a 2 km easy walk into Grants Picnic Ground in Kallista.
Bev, Steve and Rhi were waiting for us with chairs and water for a wash and top ups for our water bottles and pumpkin soup and bread and fruit and zucchini slice (and coffee). This was fantastic. We felt loved and looked after and about ½ an hour later (yes folks, all that work on their part for just ½ an hour) were refreshed enough to set off once more.
The next leg was 10.4 km and one Mike, Darren and I have done before but was a whole new experience for Chris. The narrow track through the trees goes up (more up – do you notice a theme here?) and is pretty hard work. Then there’s a flattish section where you can get back into your stride and enjoy the walk again. Down for a bit through the Alfred Nicholls Memorial Garden (we knew where we were going this time so didn’t waste time trying to interpret the map) in which there was a huge tree down, presumably from last week’s storm. Over the creek, around the trees, up Spook Hill (oops, wrong story). Then Hacketts Rd. That road that goes up and up and up. The walking poles had been much in evidence on this walk, from since the trail started going up much earlier in the day, but here they came into their own, again. Walking poles are Chris’s new best friends J.
Again, after our walk through the woods, we were able to enjoy the pampering of our WONDERFUL support crew in Olinda, who this time had hot chocolate and scones and fruit and a change of socks for us. Our support crew are vying for dominance in the best friend stakes against Chris’s walking poles. ½ and hour later we were off again, this time we wouldn’t be coming into the checkpoint to a pampering session but rather to a car to take us home so Bev and Steve (and their 2 boys) packed up and went home and Rhi continued on to our last checkpoint for the day.
I think that whoever graded these legs of the track lied. This was supposed to be easier than the last two legs. Hmmmm. Not so much. There was some downhill, actually there was a lot of downhill, interspersed amongst the lots of uphill. Chris tried out her paratrooper roll down one of the hills. Very impressive and no damage. We went down, we went up, we learned that every time there’s a fork in the road, the path we need is the one that goes up. Then we went DOWN. This down, Melba Track, made the Hacketts Rd up look flat. Eek, scary stuff. Followed by a bit more up so that we knew we were on the right track, and then the last few kilometres were on the flat, the Warburton Rail Trail.
Rhi met us at Mt Evelyn at 7pm, we all took off our shoes and socks and made her suffer the smell for the drive home. Thank you Rhi, Bev and Steve for your fantastic support during the day.
There are a few more photos up on Flickr from this walk.
Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne – 100 km – teams of 4 – 48 hours
To read more about my team go to www.oxfam.org.au/trailwalker/melbourne/team/520