Donnolley’s Weir – Mt St Leonard

I feel like it’s been a little while since I head out for some kind of adventure, so I decided to go up to Healesville yesterday. I have a couple of other places in mind I want to check out, but the weather was forecast to be hot, so I decided that Donnolley’s Weir to Mt St Leonard and back would be something nice and short. I don’t know why I thought that.

When I arrived at Donnolley’s Weir, it was 18°C and raining. I slapped on some sunscreen anyway, and started walking. There is really only one way to go, and that is up.

You basically follow Road 11 to the top, but occasionally a walking track kind of runs parallel and you can walk up over some hills instead of around them. I did this on the way up, because it seemed quite nice at the time.

Nearly at the top! ... haha nah, just kidding

Nearly at the top! … haha nah, not really

After a while, the Bicentennial National Trail veers to the left, and you follow the trail going up a little steeper.

The sun was out now and it was getting pretty hot. And the horse march fly things were out biting me. I have been attacked by them so many times this summer!

The trail gets steeper, and when you think you are nearly at the top, it gets crazy steep. And then when you think you really must nearly be there, it gets super crazy steep. And then you realise that although you can see the sky through the trees, you shouldn’t get your hopes up until you can actually see the tower at the top.

I don’t think I’ve ever moved so slow in my life. The last kilometre to the top took nearly 30 mins!

Once I got to the top, I climbed the tower, because that is what you do when you see a tower. The last time I was here I nearly slipped because the stairs were iced over. This time I nearly slipped because my calves wanted to cramp. Then I sat underneath the stairs in the shade for a bit.

mtstleonard sit down

Someone was working in the building next to the tower. I was really hoping they’d step outside, because I would not have hesitated in asking for a ride down! But they didn’t, so I realised the only thing left for me to do was to walk straight back down.

It was pretty slow going down the very steep bit. And it wasn’t particularly pleasant. But then I reminded myself that it does get better and less steep. I also decided to stick to Road 11 so I didn’t have to go up and down some extra hills.

It was so hot, and I had drank nearly all my water. This is really unusual for me. It was now 37°C and there’s not much shade up there. It was uncomfortably hot.

Then a cyclist came past.

And we smiled that crazy smile that only crazy people do, when we are doing something crazy that no one else is crazy enough to do.

I kept walking downhill, and he went on uphill.

Some time later he passed me on his way back down. He went to the bit before it gets crazy steep. A quick crazy chat and we both continued down at our own speed.

mtstleonard wizard

It was about 18km and took me nearly 3 hours to walk up, and 2:15 to walk down, with around 1600m cumulative elevation.

mtstleonard wizard 2

 

Bogong To Hotham Volunteering

Yesterday was the B2H race – something I’d never be able to do, even if my stupid ankle actually worked. The qualifying standards are pretty tough, and if I were ever able to run again, I couldn’t possibly be fast enough for the tough cut off times. I love though mountains though, so I thought it would be a good excuse to go for a walk above the tree line for a bit.

We were stationed at Warby Corner, which I think is about 26km into the race, in between Spion Kopje and Mt Nelse North.

The original plan was to camp at Ropers Hut the previous night and then walk to Warby, but when we looked at the map we thought it would be easy enough to sleep in the car near the Rocky Valley storage lake and walk up in the morning.

We left at dawn. It was quite cold, so we were in long pants and jackets.

Victorian Alps

Click any pic to enlarge

Once we got above the trees the sun came up. There were a bazillion wild flowers out. I love them!

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We made it to our aid stop and had a rummage around. There was a table and about 5 million litres of water, oranges, snakes and electrolytes stashed in some bushes. We set up and were ready to go pretty early. I found some awesome cheap light 3 legged stools last week, so brought them up. We had a beautiful view of the mountains (Bogong?) and sat down to have some breakfast.

Then we had a wander up to Mt Nelse North while waiting for the first runners to come through.

I got a call from the radio operator at the checkpoint before us. We were supposed to have a radio guy with us, but he was sick, so it was just us for a bit. Lucky A decided to come with me, or I’d be setting up by myself, and although I would’ve found the food and water, I wouldn’t’ve found the table to put it all on, which was stashed elsewhere.

Victorian Alpine Wildflowers

The first runner came through at 9:10am – on track for a course record (I think he missed out by 3 mins or so in the end). Soon enough, RD Andy drove up with a DNS runner, B, to help us out.

Victorian Alpine Wildflowers

We found ourselves in a good rhythm with A recording runners, B filling drink bottles for runners, and me doing a little bit of everything and a little bit of communication by text in lieu of radio operator. It’s kinda funny to think we were almost in the middle of nowhere, but I had full mobile reception.

It was never as crazily busy as I expected, and towards the end the runners were looking very buggered and were spread out far apart. There were so many that would not reach the cut off time at Langford Gap. The temperature was around the low 20s and very sunny. With no shade, the runners were doing it pretty tough. Our own supply of sunscreen and aeroguard turned out to be a hit with the runners. When it was quiet and we had eaten our own food supplies, we entertained ourselves by eating the electrolytes that are supposed to be dissolved in water. It was just like eating Wizz Fizz!

We were expecting to finish by lunch time, but were there until about 1:45pm. I was instructed not to let the last runner keep going, as his wife was going to drive up to our aid station to pick him up. This was good for us because we could load all the aid station gear in the car and we all got a lift back too. We were getting pretty tired, sunburnt and eaten by flies.

I was originally hoping we’d be done earlier so we’d have time for another short walk before heading home, but that was not the case. By the time we got to Bright, there was nowhere open for lunch. It was 41 degrees down there, so the only thing to do was to wander into the crowded ice cream shop and get an iced coffee for the road. It was gooooood 🙂

It was a good day out and I’m pretty sure we’ll be up for this one again next year 😀

Cathedral Ranges – Little Cathedral, Cathedral Peak, North Jawbone

This week I went out for Cathedral Ranges Take 2. I thought I’d cover as much of the north side as possible, although after finishing and looking at the map again, I forgot to do Ned’s Peak. Argghhhh!

Anyway, it was a pleasant day – 23 degrees, mostly with a strong sun. I started at Ned’s Gully Carpark and walked straight up to Ned’s Saddle. This is almost 3km with 400m ascent. There’s a good amount of shade in this area, but from here to Little Cathedral Peak, the trees are more sparse and it was very hot in the sun.

Click any pic to enlarge

Click any pic to enlarge

Also, there were a lot of flies. So many different types of flies. The normal horrid Aussie bush flies. And these awful things that kept biting me:

a08 fly

It was a rocky climb up to Little Cathedral. There are orange markers to follow the path, and you do need to make the effort to look up where they are. I ended up in some awful prickly wattle. It really is awful. I had to turn back and pay more attention to where the path was. At the top of Little Cathedral, the view is awesome.

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a03 watch out

AAAHHH One wrong step, and it’s a long way down!

It would have been a really nice place to sit down for a bite to eat at the top, but there were waaaay too many flies. It was unbearable. Whilst eating a muesli bar, and doing a bit of a dance to keep the flies off me, I noticed this fellow:

a04 echidna

He saw me coming with my phone so he hid:

a05 echidna

I was still getting attacked by flies so made a move towards Cathedral Peak.

 

Little Cathedral behind me

Cathedral Peak

It was only midday, so I was pretty sure I still had time to get North Jawbone done.

I head along the Ridge Track, which was a couple of hours of this:

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Because I have a perfectly rational fear of having to rely on my arms to hold on to things in case I plummet to death, I move very slow along this kind of surface. While watching my every foot and hand position, I also had to look up to follow the orange markers. Not that you could get lost following a ridgeline, but I found out many times that the orange markers lead the easiest way.

Sometimes there was no easiest way

Sometimes there was no easiest way

It’s very tiring paying such close attention to where you are walking. It was such a relief to veer off towards North Jawbone. The land of easy walking, lyrebirds, and fewer flies.

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I got a bit of a rude shock when there were more rocks to walk on to get up to North Jawbone, but I made it up there quick enough. Stopped for about 10 seconds because the horrible big flies were out again, and scrambled back down.

From here it was a nice easy stroll down to Cooks Mill Campground and along Little River Track back to the start. Unfortunately Little River Track is part logged, part pine plantation. This was the only downside in the scenery.

Aside from the horrendous flies, other animals spotted were many cicadas, lyrebirds, rosellas, kookaburras, big lizards, little lizards, a mouse, an echidna, and a black snake. There were also heaps of nice wild flowers out 🙂

a17 legs

The end result of the day included scratches, bruises, sunburn, fly bites, stinging nettle rash, and… looks like one of those big flies feeding off me and spreading disease. I highly recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves when walking around here – mostly because of the prickly wattle.

The walk was around 15.2km and took me 5hrs 30 mins. It would have been quicker if I was not so crap at balancing on rocks. It would have taken longer if there were no flies because there were lots of nice places to sit for a bite to eat, but I didn’t do that.

map

I’m kinda looking forward to doing a slightly more relaxing walk next time, but I always seem to gravitate towards big hills and tortuous things.

 

Pain

I am still dying to get back into running… meanwhile reading up on how to cure my ankle woes with brainpower.

If you experience chronic pain, that is not an injury due to acute trauma, but something you might describe as “overuse” or neurological pain, then it is entirely possible the pain is a figment of your imagination.

“Your own body is a phantom… one that your brain has constructed purely for convenience.” from The Brain That Changes Itself (Norman Doidge)

When you experience pain, it is your brain sensing threat. Pain is a survival mechanism. Pain is what you feel when your brain thinks something is threatening your survival. Here’s a good video that describes what pain actually is:

After reading up a bit on neuroplasticity, I know it is possible to bypass the pain signal. It is possible to tell your brain that there is no threat to your survival… and in minutes – ok that’s being generous, I really mean seconds – your pain is gone.

But “normal” neuroplasticity takes too long. It could take months for a 50% chance of improvement.

So I am currently looking into proprioceptive methods of teaching your brain that you are not under threat.

I am very interested in Z Health, which is an American company teaching some of this stuff. They are coming here next year, and for a mere $2.5k I too can learn a few, but not all, the things I want to learn.

I am also interested in EFT or Tapping…. But again, that seems to only cover a few of the things I want to learn.

Musicians often use Body Mapping to cure injury, but I feel that too, is only a piece of the puzzle.

The Feldenkrais Method also seems to use some of these techniques. Interestingly enough, years ago I bought a book on running using the Feldenkrais Method, but I never read it! Time to dig it out I think! But still… Feldenkrais is just a piece of the puzzle.

I know there is more.

(Edit: Sensory Gating is something also worth looking into here.)

There are vision drills you can do to improve your vision, which in turn improves your range of motion, reduces pain and increases strength. A basic example is the common cue to “look up” when you squat or deadlift. Your body follows your eyes. So when you look up, your body naturally extends as you rise from the squat or deadlift. Guaranteed you’ll lift more than if you’re staring at the ground.

There is a basic proprioceptive drill that Dax Moy teaches, which improves your range of motion in seconds. I’m sure it can improve strength too, although I have not tested it with that yet. You can find it here.

Here is an interesting article on the CNS, pain, and how your body reacts and compensates to the perception of pain. It’s also very interesting to read there on why strength sports fry your CNS. This is the first time I’ve seen it spelt out so simply. And duhhh it’s kinda obvious!

Anyway… I know all this stuff can be linked together for a healthier and pain free body. Finding the info for free online is proving to be difficult and time consuming. I know someone has the answers… Dax Moy does! haha but he’s running different courses in Australia next year, not the course on this stuff.

Speaking of courses…. there are many good ones around next year. There is Wellness Coaching Level 3 for $1.5k. There’s Dax Moy’s thing similar to that for a similar cost, plus flights and accommodation. Although, I’d really prefer to do his “FixMyInjury” course (no, it’s not actually called that, which he is not running in Australia 😦 ). And there’s Z Health doing their thing for $2.5k or so, which again, only covers part of what I want to learn. Which to choose? Which to choose? Which to choose?