Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wild Wombat Crossing - A Mad Day Out

Date: 9th February 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 7:15am
Venue: Mackenzie's Flat Picnic Area, Lerderderg State Park
Distance: 30KM±
Difficulty: 4/5

Six hours later ...

When was this ever going to end?

The last 6KM wasn't as easy as everyone hoped, and it felt like forever. At every turning and every corner, I'd perk up, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the marker was wrong and it was actually 5KM to go.

Fat chance.
It felt like 8. 
Or 10.

The view of despair.

With the bladder empty, I only had half a bottle of electrolytes to ration out until we arrived at O'Brien's crossing. We estimated that we had another 3-4KM to go, and enveloped in fatigue, I no longer felt like running. I feared that if I ran, I would need to drink - besides, I was getting clumsier with every step I took, so I couldn't really run, anyway.

Once again, our beloved Wild Wombat organiser lives up to its reputation in delivering one heck of adventure.

Earlier that morning ...

The park ranger came to check on us.

As this run was not intended for beginners, we had 17 runners who turned up for the challenge that day.

A complete group pic, yay!

We split into two groups where the crazier ones attempted the reverse Wild Wombat route so it meant killer climbs (see previous post for an idea - they basically climbed up from the weir!) and the not-so-crazy ones went the usual way up the killer hill a.k.a. Link Track No. 1.

Gorgeous view of the hills and valleys, as always.

The climb brought back painful memories.

Going down Blackwood Ranges Track.
Contemplating sneaking into Bear Head Range.

At this stage, we were waiting to see whether the crazy group would climb up Long Point Track and join us.

Not yet.

Foxy Gully Track.

We took Clifford Track and then onto Foxy Gully Track to head towards Mt Blackwood for our pit stop.

A ruin mine area. Must have 'belonged' to a Chinese dude. ;)

It was such a relief to spot Claire's car from a distance.

The most important person of the day, Claire!

For us, at this point, it was about 13KM and 2.5 hours into the run.

Refueling before the next half of the run.

We waited for the crazy group to arrive. Everyone chilled around for about 20 minutes before setting off again. 

Some of us were pretty reluctant to leave the comfort of the aid station!

I wanted to stay back and play with the little girls instead. On hindsight, it would have been a better way to spend the afternoon. :)

Towards Mt Blackwood.

We trudged along to the scenic site of Mt Blackwood, which wasn't on the itinerary, apparently. Or was it?

At one point, Isaac scampered past me on his way up, yelling at me, "C'mon! This is runnable!"

Do you see us bothered with running? :D

We ended up climbing to the top of Mt Blackwood to check out the scenery. 

Uh huh.

Just that.

"We climbed up just for this??" I spluttered.

"Yeah. Brilliant, isn't it?" Gregor was not amused. 
(He said something along those lines, but I can't remember the exact words. :D)

I wanted to laugh because some of us weren't expecting a dead end after all that climbing! (Granted, I didn't study the map properly!)

The wind threatened to blow us off the track.

So we went back down again and got onto Lower Chadwick Track towards Lerderderg River.

Going downhill was a bit easier, I suppose. 
For some. 

I was being overly cautious as I think I need new trail shoes as the cushioning of my shoes have worn out and the grip is weak.

I was lamenting to the other half that if I were 10 years younger, I would be more confident with myself and scampered down faster!

An unscheduled pit stop as they waited for me to tackle the decline
like the little old lady who owns Tweety Bird. *embarrassed*

The river was rather dry and where there was still water, it wasn't enticing enough to want to dunk yourself in to cool down.

Rested, it was time to move on.

Up onto Razorback Track.

Good grief.

Is there no flat terrain in Lerderderg State Park?? *crazed laughter*

The name itself made me chuckle. Spanish Onion!!!!

I was rather tickled with the track's name. If you have watched the old British sitcom of Mind Your Language, you would recall the Spanish student, Juan Cervantes being called a 'Spanish Onion' or a 'Spanish Omelette' by Giovanni, the Italian student.


We found ourselves at the river. Isaac had gone off to locate the trail while we stood around, looking for an easier trail to magically appear.

No such luck.

We decided to follow the river (as per the map).


An amazing find by Anthony, a shell of a dragonfly.

We came to a crossroads of some sort (possibly LER521) and further studying of the map revealed that we were 2-3 hours away from our destination. 

6KM to go, bring it on! *weak war cry*

What a time to jot down a diary entry, Anthony! ;)

There was a little notebook in a freezer bag, with a pencil and a sharpener included, kept in an airtight container. There were entries since 2009 from walkers and campers, just putting down a word or two. 

Anthony decided that he'd put one in on behalf of the Wild Wombat Community!

Fat chance of locating a pub in the middle of a forest!

The weather forecast had assured us a cooler afternoon but it was still very warm. With the heat and the fatigue, I was slowing down into a crawl.

I was hungry but I  couldn't seem to locate my packet of trail mix. When I did, it was sticky with power gel that it turned me off. Didn't want to get my hand sticky.

Hungry, I forced myself to continue walking.

The front lead had disappeared from sight, but every now and then I'd spot the red of Dion's vest and Anthony's cap, and the blue of Brett's hydration bag and my hubby's vest.

Water supply was running low, and with the hubby's bladder dry, I had to share what remained of my water with him.

Until I ran out of water too.

The road to Mordor.

To come across this obstacle course when you're hungry, tired, thirsty and frustrated, didn't help one bit. What the heck!

Couldn't the track and trail get any more difficult??

Only despair and frustration kept us company throughout the rest of the trail. Anthony had shared some of his water with us earlier on so all I could only think of catching up to him to beg for a bit more.

No such luck, because he disappeared after telling us to "move along now" in his nonchalant manner, when we stopped by the river for a cool down.

A heart shaped rock!
I bet no one noticed this in their state of fatigue and frustration.

Soon, we were taking breaks to sit down for a while before continuing on. Even a 2 minute sit down was good enough to rest our tired legs. 

I wanted to sit for a while longer ...

The single track of The East Walk Track was visible but there was still a need to be cautious. With a sluggish mind, it was easy to stumble over small rocks scattered along the ground and take a rough tumble.

Not forgetting that road to Mordor obstacle bit.

I felt like I was stumbling through the Sahara Desert, devoid of water and life, and the dirty river was my untouchable oasis. I kept looking towards the horizon, hoping that the end was near (of the trail) and Claire was there with refreshments.

There were talks about - not joining another Wild Wombat event ever; time to retire from running; no more races ever; let's stick to hiking and taking our own sweet time, etc. 

You know, the usual thoughts that pop into your head when you're in pure agony.

I got a bit worried about collapsing and waking up delirious, and then I'd get lost and wander deeper and deeper into the forest with NO WATER. Then I would be troubling everyone to set up a search and rescue team for me, tsk tsk.

And I'd have to drink water from the icky river. Ugh.

I'd have to be Bear Grylls or those wildlife adventurers who use socks to filter the water until it's more or less drinkable ... yuck.

And then at times I wanted to cry, just because.

Anyway, about 1KM to O'Briens Crossing (still so fricking far), Isaac came up to us with a bottle of water. 

We could have cried in relief (drama!) and was so grateful thankful for some cool water to quench our thirst.

We were so relieved to reach O'Briens Crossing picnic area that Brett and I turned to look at each other and congratulated ourselves for getting through that torture ordeal adventure.

Photo credit: Matt Hosking

Everyone in our group ran out of water during the last 7KM of the trail so it must have been equally tough for everyone. 

Being out there in the sun for 7 to 7.5 hours for 30KM± was just one heck of a crazy adventure. The company was great, and once refreshed, everyone had some colour in their cheeks and the frowns slowly smooth away.

Words and photos cannot describe what we went through. :)

We can't thank Claire enough for being our aid station, otherwise, I doubt we would have been able to make this track with just 3L of water. The aid station allowed us to refuel and refill, so she is an absolute gem for helping us out that day.

Many thanks to Isaac for organising the run. You'll have to be wary of him, as I think that manic look in his eyes is constantly there.

Thanks a gazillion to those who waited for me, patiently or impatiently. :)

Head on to my Facebook album. It may take a while for me to upload them.

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  1. I see someone is 'successfully' retiring from running ... hahaha!

    1. it was this run that refreshed my yearning to retire haha!