I’m going to hike the Le Tour du Mont Blanc that lies in France, Italy and Switzerland this June 2016. As part of my training, I decided to do The Great North Walk of Sydney to Newcastle. Section by section and only the ones that are accessible by public transport on both ends of the route. Not camping, just an all day hike on most weekends. Mapping my tracks, taking photos and writing travel diaries along the way.
Day 2 – Hawkesbury River to Cowan
Wow, this town is beautiful. After getting off the Hawkesbury River train station, I was in awe seeing the lovely stillness of the river in front of me. Boats swaying gently across the glistening water of Hawkesbury. I would have love to stay and ponder but I got a long day of hiking ahead of me. I set up my backpack, adjust anything I needed to adjust and off I go. Pity that the coffee shops around town are still close. It would have been great to start the day with a cuppa.
Damn it. I walk passed the starting point of the walk. I was so mesmerized by my surroundings that I unknowingly walked past the sign of the starting point. As you can see from the GPS tracker above, I walked for about one and half kilometres before realising that I went too far. After several minutes of backtracking my steps, I found the little sign. It doesn’t help when you can hardly see it. How could anyone notice it when its posted down ankle level! Audio book for the day is Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
There seems to be a lot of spider webs along the trail. You can’t really see them and thus I often wipe those annoying webs off my face. I got lost again! Around the Brooklyn Dam campsite. There were a lot of visible trails that ventured out of it. I did check my GPS and I use my “analog” compass. After walking for 200 metres on the track in which I thought was right, was actually wrong according to my GPS. So I retraced my steps and along the way I found a “short cut” that will save me at least two kilometres of walking. Considering of whether I should do it or not. In the end I chose to pass through it to save time. Big mistake! The “short cut”, turns out to be just a water run off. Tired and annoyed, I decided not to retract again. So I carefully brush aside those pesky shrubs with their spiky leaves and small low lying trees. I feel like a bulldozer flattening the terrain in front of me. I actually felt bad for those plants when I reach the end but I’m relieved that I finally made it to the proper trail. I really need to work on my orientation skills.
Just an update about my shin splints injury that I suffered a couple of weeks ago. They are OK now, the pain is still there but not as bad as the weeks before. I feel no pain doing uphill walking but when it comes to downhill, a sharp pain develops. I remember my room mate, which is a physiotherapist student at the time, telling me that its the opposite part of your body that were hurting, that you need to pay attention to. So if your shins are injured, your calves needs attention. A couple of years ago, when I had a lower back problem, I worked on my abs by doing a lot of core exercise. After a few weeks, the back pain were gone. Having this knowledge, I worked on my shins splints by doing a lot of calf raises, body squat and plenty of stretches during the week. It seems to be working.
The track started following the river heading towards Jerusalem Bay and midway I decided to have a breather. With all the dramas I encounter in the morning, I needed this rest. I lied down on the big slab of rock on the shore, overlooking the river. Oh yeah, what a lovely view, This is living!
Suprising sight to me was the amount of young people hiking this trail. A few groups of them, on their own without an adult accompanying them. Felt quite jealous, I wish I did this when I was at their age. Oh well, there’s no such thing as your “too old” to bushwalk. There were also a lot of “fitspo” people hiking this track. They were only carrying water bottles and looked like they never hike before. I passed a couple of women who I think have no experience bushwalking, asking me “How far is it to the nearest town?” in which I replied “Around 3 hours.” Alarming thing is the time of the day. It was 4PM when I passed them and the sun sets at around 6:30PM. I hope they make it.
A couple of hours later, I made it to Cowan train station. It has been an interesting day. Saw a lot of new things, passed a lot of people with different demographics and learned how to keep calm when unforeseen situation happens. I have been hiking for a few years now and one lesson that always comes up for me is perseverance. When I’m down and out and can’t go on any more, my persistent attitude always carry me through my intended goal. So far I haven’t given up. Diligence gives great rewards. The skills gained translate not just in hiking but throughout life.