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Annual gardening

The fire-trail through Wambina
Nature Reserve.

Those who know me, or have seen my house, know that gardening is not one of my passions.  There is, however, an annual piece of gardening that I don't mind doing - clearing and marking the trail for the Terrigal Trotters "Fiji Run" which is scheduled for tomorrow.

I originally suggested the course to capitalise on two little-used trails in the Terrigal area that are not part of our other runs.  The first trail section is short and passes through a grove of palm trees, hence the name "Fiji", and the second, longer, section climbs through Wambina Nature Reserve to a forested ridge which it then follows to its end before descending back to the suburbs.

I first encountered the ridge when some friends took me mountain-biking up that way eight or nine years ago, and have since observed the trail gradually deteriorate through lack of use and rampant lantana growth.  For the last three of four years, since the "Fiji Run" has been on the Trotters agenda, I have been in the habit of spending some time in the preceding week clearing and marking the trail.

Overgrown trail.

Yesterday, after going for my usual Thursday 11km morning run, I grabbed some breakfast in Terrigal and drove to the little-visited Wambina Nature Reserve.  I savoured the climb to the ridge through quiet forest along the leaf-covered firetrail.  It's always a wonder to me how you can find such lovely and peaceful pockets of undisturbed nature amidst the hubbub of the Central Coast.  Most area residents would have no idea it was even there.  After a few kilometres, and having negotiated a couple of locked gates, I reached the narrow foot-trail section and donned my gardening gloves and pulled out my long-shaft clippers.

For the next three hours I walked along the trail, hacking at the lantana and other over-hanging vegetation to make the trail more runnable.  In one short section, the trail had virtually disappeared into a huge lantana thicket and I spent nearly an hour hacking and bashing a usable trail.  When I finally reached the far end of the ridge, I turned and made my way back to the start, hanging flouro pink flagging tape from trees where the trail was more obscure.

Cleared trail.

Knowing it had rained recently, I wisely wore my high profile hiking boots for the expedition, but still scored a couple of leech bites on my calf which are itching as I write.  I was lucky to only have two, since I removed about ten leeches from my boots and thick socks when I returned to my car.  On the way home I needed to visit the supermarket, and padded along the aisles with blood dripping down my calf, hoping I wouldn't get ejected.  Being on Warfarin, leech bites coagulate even more slowly.

It takes a large part of the day to clear the trail, but I see it as a community service.  The local council doesn't seem to have any interest in keeping the trail open and I fear it will disappear without some attention.  I also enjoy taking my club-mates to places they may not know about, or normally wouldn't go.

This morning, I was quite stiff in the back from yesterday's exertions, but otherwise OK, and jogged a very slow early 5km before playing nine holes of golf.