Saturday, November 2, 2019

191102 - Overdoing it again

Day: 16
Date:  Saturday, 02 November 2019
Start:  Deloraine
Finish:  Sheffield
Daily Kilometres:  48.3 (45.2 TT plus 2.0 navigation error plus 1.1 detour into Sheffield).
Total TT Kilometres:  430.6
Weather:  Overcast with lengthy rain periods
Accommodation:  Motel
  Breakfast:  Cereal, raisin toast
  Lunch:  Chicken Caesar salad sandwich
  Dinner:  Soup, a tad of rehydrated spaghetti bolognese (couldn't get it down), ice-cream
Aches:  Exhausted overall and feet very tired
Highlight:  When the rain stopped around 9am, I had dress-circle views over a beautiful green rural valley as I walked along Cox's Road.
Lowlight:  Lots of cobwebs across the trail through the forest in the morning, which I collected across my face and body interminably.
Pictures: Click here
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map
True to the forecast, it was raining lightly but continuously when I left my cabin at 7:15am.  I walked the 500 metres into town and bought a sandwich for lunch from the bakery before continuing out the other side of Deloraine and walking the 9km on roads to rejoin the official TT.  Around this time the rain stopped, and I enjoyed a nice walk along Cox's Road (see above) before entering the Gog Range forest. It was very pleasant forest walking, apart from the cobwebs, but my mind was on the looming ford of the Mersey River which had been described as potentially difficult on the TT website.

I reached the river around noon, about the same time the rain started again.  It was difficult to see how deep the water was in some parts, and the river was wide, but the current was not strong, which gave me confidence that I wouldn't get into trouble.  I took it slowly and got wet up to my groin, but crossed safely and happily. My goal for the day was to get about 10km past the river crossing before looking for somewhere to camp, and feeling OK, I continued on in the light rain.  My shoes and socks were wet from the river, and I was beginning to feel quite damp all over. The trail was easy forest road, although it seemed to always be ascending or descending, and the forests were a mix of eucalypt and pine plantation.  At times the trail seemed to ascend into the clouds and there were no views from anywhere in the Gog Range.

It was too wet to stop for a break, so I just kept walking, but must have switched off in my little rain-hooded world and missed a turn.  By the time I realised, it was easier to continue on, following a different road in the same forest, knowing from Maps.Me that I would rejoin the official TT further on.  The error cost me about 2km. Because I wasn't taking breaks, I was still making quite good time, and decided I would walk further than planned until I reached the edge of the forest and then camp at a river shown on the map.

After a very long descent, I reached the river, but found the area wasn't particularly good for camping.  It was continuing to rain, and I didn't relish the idea of setting up camp in the rain, and perhaps packing up a wet tent in the morning.  I began to think about how far it was to the small town of Sheffield which I had originally intended to reach about lunchtime tomorrow, and wondered whether I would be able to get accommodation there.  Unfortunately, there was no phone signal at the potential camping site, so I had to decide whether to continue walking into the farmland, where I was unlikely to find another campsite, in the hope that once I had a phone signal, I would be able to book accommodation.  By the time I got a signal it was 6pm, and I was lucky enough to get a room at the only motel in town. However, it was still 10km away and I was starting to get very tired.

The last 10km, though hard on the body, particularly because it involved some long ascents and descents, was actually some of the most beautiful scenery of the day.  The steep green pastures had backdrops of spectacular mountains and mountain bluffs. To top it off, the rain stopped around the time I booked the motel, and I began to feel a little warmer.

I finally reached the motel around 8:20pm and pretty much collapsed in a chair in the room (in which the receptionist, knowing I was going to be late, had turned on the heater).  After a shower and getting into some warm dry clothes, I felt much better and ate my dinner watching the second half of the Rugby World Cup Final on TV.

I only have about 13km tomorrow to my next booked accommodation, so I will sleep in as late as I can, have breakfast at the adjacent bakery, and check-in as early as I can at the next place.  My feet are sore, as to be expected after 48km with a pack, but I enjoyed the day despite the weather and am happy with my fitness overall.

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