|BLUE MOUNTAIN CLUB|
31 March - 1 April 2007
Sherona, Keris, Paul + Rangers Lyndon and Ryan (part-way)
Pressure of tests reduced our numbers to three, but eventually we decided to go ahead, partly because of the arrangements to walk the first part (the Sheldon Trail from the Yallahs River, just below Mavis Bank, to Penlyne Castle) with two Rangers from JCDT, to properly gauge the state of the trail.
So having driven from Papine, we get ready for the walk at Mavis Bank, the weather really very pleasant.
Down the track to the river, but not before a lack of concentration takes us on the the wrong route into someone's yard! Huricane Ivan has massively re-arranged the river crossing, so we have to walk downstream for half a mile to a newer crossing point.
The recent heavy rains have made the two rivers pretty full, so not only shoes off, but quite a tricky crossing, especially across the Green River - really don't want to wet up all our things at this stage!
Up the Sheldon Trail, which really isn't too bad, certainly not a problem in daylight. Great views looking down to the river and across to Mavis Bank, Flamstead and Catherine's Peak. We stop briefly at the dwelling house of Mr.Walters on the way.
Near the top of the trail, we engage in a cricket match with two youngsters - those oranges soon disappear into the bush but maybe this is the beginnings of the re-invigorated Windies team. Our rangers call on their colleague to come down from Penlyne in his pick-up to meet us, which reduces our walk up the last leg of the Sheldon Trail quite a bit.
In fact one of our number works a bit of female magic and we are soon much further on, past Penlyne, past Whitfiled Hall, past Abbey Green, past Jacob's Ladder and there at the lookout - is this cheating, or just plain common sense???
So just about 45 minutes walk now to Portland Gap, although we are already weary and it seems a long way. Our ranger friends have meanwhile been taken back to their bikes at Mavis Bank.
We are happy to spread out at the Gap - the ground however is no choice, since there are over 100 other hikers here for the night, from a student Christian group. They have walked all the way on the road from Mavis Bank, through Mount Charles, Hagley Gap and Penlyne, and have not been spared Jacob's Ladder. Well done, you guys.
Night comes down, and with it the.... COLD! No bed for us (all booked out) so we find a verandah, which is probably more cosy than it looks. Never mind those walking over us.....
In the night it begins to rain, so our early morning start to the Peak is a little delayed as we wind ourselves up to face the weather.
Never mind again, the complaining limbs soon make the rain a non-event - but no views at the view-points this time as we struggle onwards and upwards. At last, after many wishful-thinking 'we've reached!' moments, the building at the Peak is there in front of us.
We are cold, and wet, despite the waterproofs, yet we still manage to stick it out at the top to eat our sumptious snacks - yes, anything is sumptious in that situation.
The building now has to be measured up - we have agreed to take some information back to JCDT ready for its re-furbishment - the cold and rain makes it a bit difficult, but we hurry up, keen to be on our way, down towards some eventual comfort!
The rain finally eases up after we have stopped by Portland Gap for our bigger bags. Walking into the comparative warmth is quite wonderful, and Penlyne Castle is soon in our grasp.
Lucky we are now as a truck comes by and carries us down to Mount Charles. Quite a scarry ride, since the road is steep and the driver is too used to it. We hold on tight as other passengers join us, with their wares for sale and juicy cane as a gift.
The final walk to Mavis Bank is uphill again, and reminds us that there might just be better ways to spend a weekend! How did the others know it would be raining so hard, or did they know too well of the aching limbs???