Yesterday I decided I was sick of the relentless heat of the coast, and so decided to head for the mountains of Lamington National Park. I figured that walking the Ships Stern track (19km + another 5km of detours) in the middle of a 102km ride would keep me occupied, and more importantly, at altitude for most of the day. I wasn't disappointed.
Things were muggy on the ride up the range, the usual threat of rain not eventuating that seems to be endemic to this time of year. Once I reached the plateau at Lower Beechmont, things improved, however, and it was a pleasant ride across the top through Beechmont and on to Binna Burra. The final climb of Mt Roberts is always a challenge, but I managed it without working too hard, maybe a sign that my resting heart-rate of 43 last year was no fluke.
The walk itself started with a trek through the mist at one of the higher parts of the track, before descending slightly, into a more open type of forest. One of the perils of Lamington at this time of year is leeches, there were hundreds of them around. A couple of runners had been through earlier, and evidently had stirred them up. Still, only one of the leeches actually managed to bite me, so I think I did pretty well.
The rocks near Upper Ballanjui falls were wet and thus extremely slippery. In fact, that was a description that could be applied to much of the track. Something else that surprised me was the friendliness (or should that be fearlessness) of a blue cray. That creature wasn't backing away at all. The lunch stop was Kooloobanoo Point at the top of the Ships Stern Range, with its extensive views north over Egg Rock. Apparently descendents of the original aboriginal inhabitants still live in the valley below around Egg Rock.
The second half of the walk involved a final waltz through the Hidden valley at the bottom, passing the Lower Ballanjui Falls, before climbing back to the trail head Binna Burra and riding home. I was warned about the number of leeches in the valley by a group coming the other way, but in truth I only saw two, and neither of them managed to bite me. While I was walking through the rainforest valley, it actually started raining quite heavily, but virtually all of the rain was blocked by the canopy of palms above. It's quite an eerie feeling to be under such a canopy, able to hear the rain, but not feel it. It's something I could consider if ever I need to find shelter in a hurry up there in the future.
After returning to Binna Burra, I was left with a fairly simple ride home. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon on the Beechmont range. The temperature was beautiful, and the wind had a slight but exquisite chill on it, the like of which would never be felt in the coastal lowlands at this time of year. I eventually made it home around 6.30pm exhausted, but extremely satisfied after a memorable day.
If you click here you should see a slide show of the 32 pictures I eventually uploaded from what was a truly awesome day.