|Bogong High Plains near Mount Nelse. |
For the biggest long run, I mapped out a 50+ kilometre loop that incorporated part of the course of the upcoming race and set out at 7:00am on a cool sunny morning from near the Rocky Valley Storage Dam. The half-way point was to be the summit of Mount Bogong (1986m), and although the last half of the course was along familiar trail, the first half of the loop wasn't, and I was excited about running some new trail. I headed north towards the barren Mount Nelse for the first 8km which climbed gradually away from the Dam on easy running fire-trail.
|Mount Bogong from Grey Hills. |
At Warby Corner, near Mount Nelse, I turned left onto the Spion Kopje track which followed a high spur westwards with expansive views north and south of fog-shrouded valleys in very still conditions. I was fresh, the running was easy, and not a soul was in sight. I felt privileged to have the place to myself, and lucky to be fit enough to do the run.
|Quartz Ridge from Mount Bogong. |
Around this time, the sky clouded over and the weather began to look more ominous, a common pattern in the high country. It was also around this time that my lack of fitness and the harder work along the Grey Hills Track began to kick in, and I found myself walking the steeper sections. As the trail approached the Hooker Plateau, near Bogong, it passed along an exposed ridge near Quartz Knob with sheer drops to the west. It was quite runnable but the trail wasn't always obvious and a few times I just headed cross-country in what I surmised to be the correct direction until I again picked up the trail.
|At the summit of Mount Bogong (1986m). |
|Roper Hut. |
From experience, I knew that hikers sometimes left unused food in mountain huts and I wasn't disappointed, though the choice was limited. There was a glass container containing a small amount of sultanas and nuts of uncertain age, and several small sealed sachets of dried apple, something I had never previously tried. I started eating the sultanas and nuts, which definitely tasted very old, wondering what kinds of unseen fungus they might contain and what would be the health consequences. After a few more, I decided I would be safer with the dried apple and left with the sachets. They weren't very big and didn't last long, but I could feel my energy levels lifting and resumed running the level sections of trail with about 10km to go. Before long, I was wishing I had taken all of the sultanas and nuts to eat, but was saved by the gradual downhill run after Mount Nelse and finished back at my car eleven hours after I had started. I'm sure I could run this course a lot faster if fully fit and maybe a bit more nutrition en route, but it was satisfying nevertheless, and the completion of such runs often gives my training program a kick start.
I only managed a 4km walk this morning because of time constraints, but did it comfortably.