Feeling 95years old, with legs that simply refused to bend, I was starting to wonder when the ‘fun’ part of this ‘bushwalking for fun’ gig would actually kick in.
Instead, I just hoisted my backpack, pulled up my big girl panties and headed off for a decadently short day.
Is it my imagination? Or is it that Newcastle doesn’t seem to be getting closer?
Taking time to smell the flowers, it was Day 5 out on the Great North Walk.
Date: Tuesday, 9 August 2022
From: Ridge Top Camp
Map #: part 11
Official Distance: ??km Actual Distance: 5.3km
Ascent: 203m Descent: 245m
Weather: Cool and sunny
Stayed At: Hornsby Inn
Getting to the Start: The only way to get to Ridge Top Camp is by walking. There is a management trail that connects back to the suburbs of Berowra and it is popular with trail runners and mountain bike riders.
Finishing This Stage: This stage ends right on the doorstep of Cowan railway station. Regular train services connect North towards Newcastle or South to Strathfield, or south-east to Sydney CBD. An Opal Card is handy for use on all public transport in Sydney and surrounds.
- Well, if my body didn’t hate me yesterday morning, it thoroughly despised me this morning! Every muscle was screaming and complaining about the rigors of yesterday. Trying to shimmy out of my sleeping bag liner and sleeping bag in a small tent with legs that simply refused to bend would have been hilarious for anyone watching. Thankfully I was completely on my own. I suspect from the outside of the tent it looked like a possum fight was going on inside – complete with grunts and groans and random swear words, not that possums have been known to swear as far as I am aware.
- Battle won, dressed and presentable (or as presentable as you can be after nearly 30km of rock scrabbling, two days and no shower) I was packed. Each day the process has become a little more streamlined and faster. I have slowly grown in confidence and I feel I know a little more about this bushwalking and hiking thing. One day I may even know what I am doing! Or perhaps WHY I am doing it!
- Due to the sorry state of my legs, I made the call to end today at Cowan. I had enough water to get me there, but would have had to load up again to tackle the stage to Brooklyn. I just didn’t have it in me. Rocks = 1, Mel = 0.
- While I have probably made this all sound pretty bloody unattractive, with hindsight and a couple of days, I am still glad I did it and am committed to walking the rest of the trail as time allows.
- I have also learned that:
- I need to be more serious about my training and get fitter before setting off again. This includes losing about 8kgs as I do not need to haul that up mountains/cliff faces as well as a backpack.
- While I used 97% of what I had packed, I need to review the packing list again to see where I can prune more weight. That is going to be a tough ask.
- Water is crucial and there are times I just had to carry extra to be able to rehydrate at the end of the day and have sufficient to last me to the next water point the next day. Water is bloody heavy!
- Heat: even in Winter it was hot work and walking. Maybe I just struck an unseasonably warm patch, but it will be an important consideration when I schedule GNW Mach III.
Top Tips for this Section:
- Water: There is a large stream you must cross about 2km after Ridge Top camp. The water looked clear, but you would be safe to treat it before consumption.
- Stay: the Hornsby Inn has simple, basic rooms for around $130pn including breakfast. It is a 3minute walk to the station and was surprisingly quiet on a Tuesday evening. It’s not fancy, but it does the trick.
Here ends my Great North Walk adventure for another six months or so. The plan is to tackle the remaining stages – around 12 days – in April 2023 when the trail may be cooler, completely open (i.e. no landslips or flooded creeks) and access to drinking water may be more reliable. I will keep you posted.
Until then, happy trails, everyone!
- The Great North Walk – Read more about it – HERE
- NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service – Find out more about Berowra Valley National Park – HERE
- NSW Train & Buses – Plan your trip – HERE
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