It’s been a while since I’ve done a new route, but I found someone who likes doing silly things, and who also happens to take most of Fridays off for silly things.
She’s training for a 250km race and wanted something on the longer side of my fat pregnant capabilities, yet she had to be at a certain place by 3pm. So I picked the shortest thing I could think of. The Southern Gorge Walk is marked as around 8km… but I told her it would feel like the 15 she wanted. I just knew that anything I chose would probably involve bush bashing, making up the way, an undetermined number of river crossings, and lead to running overtime.
So we started at Mackenzies Picnic area. It was pretty enough, and after 5 seconds we came to the first river crossing, with nice stepping stones laid out so we didn’t get our tootsies wet.
It was very pleasant going, with a little bit of running, and walking at the slightest incline.
I’d always avoided Lerderderg because all the walks seem to involve river crossings and hills that look like they go on forever. At this point, I decided I had no reason to avoid the area.
We made it to Graham’s Dam, and started heading along the east side of the river. But it got very steep and cliffy very suddenly, and I thought we should’ve just been following the river, but it was kind of deep. So we backtracked, and decided to do the loop in reverse. We crossed over to the west side, and after a little exploration, found Link Track Number 1.
This was a steep steep hill! This west side of the river was dry, rocky and sparse. The trees were short. It was the wild west!
We found our way to Link Tk No 2 and very slowly descended, holding onto rocks and trees so we didn’t fall over.
I think we did pretty well, except at some point we were so busy focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other that we lost the orange arrows marking the trail. Not to worry. All we had to do was go down to the river.
We found a pretty creek bed which took us to the river.
And from there it was river river river. In the river, across the river, next to the river. My feet were FREEZING in the river. It felt like that water had come straight off a mountain. Every time I went in the river, my feet got so numb I couldn’t tell if I was stepping properly on the rocks, I didn’t know if my shoes were gripping right, and I just had to get out of there. When I got to dry land, it took several minutes for my feet to regain feeling.
We found where Link Tk No 2 met up with the river, and I was hopeful there’d be some slightly more obvious ways to walk. But no, it was just more river, and rocks, and debris, and shrubs, and prickly things.
We saw a couple of campsites by the river. Who are these people that walk along a river with a backpack to set up camp? That is just crazy thinking.
After a long while, we found a track. Yay! Smooth sailing from here on!
But the track would disappear, and it would be more river, then the track would reappear briefly, before disappearing and we’d be in the river again.
But finally we came across a track that was on nice smooth fairly even ground with easy footing, and a sign that said it was only 30 mins back to the start. Phew!
We couldn’t relax too much though. Because that hill cliffy bit at the start we saw and decided not to do? Well that was up next.
At that point we decided to turn around and find a shallowish bit in the river to cross. The other side was nice and rocky – in the nice rocky sense rather than the rock climbing sense, and I knew it would lead back to the start of Link 1.
So we found the shallowest bit. It wasn’t that shallow. I secured my phone in my pack, and we slung our packs over our heads, and walked across the waist deep river.
But the rest was exactly as I thought – easy rocky bits, and even a bit of a shuffle back to the car!
Totally doable, although pretty challenging at times. And as with all my adventures – it took way longer than expected.
Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/180818347