Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Lower Beechmont Conservation Park

 Tuesday 23 November

The forecast for Monday was for heavy rain and possible flooding all day. All we received were a few scuds that hardly wet the ground. Tuesday's forecast didn't really concern the Gaiter Girls, as we set off early, up the Beechmont, mountain road to our starting point. 

The morning was cloudy and very humid. It rained prior to our arrival.  Looking through the trees and across the valley, we could see a dark grey mass heading our way. Would it divert or fizzle out? We aren't concerned by showers so continued climbing upwards to the 'glorious views' mentioned in our notes. 

Views? What views?

The trail then descended to the valley floor and Clagiraba Creek. This little gully was flowing nicely.

The shower caught us up. We covered our packs and raised our umbrellas. Thankfully it was short lived.

On reaching the narrow valley floor, there was a choice of turning onto the right or left trail. Consulting our map we decided going right would allow us to complete a circuit.

From here on we were delighted by every step of the way. 
Causeway No 1, covered with rushing water from the overnight rain. So lovely to have the stepping stones. The dripping rainforest, glistening leaves, birdsong was overwhelmingly beautiful.

Causeway No 2

At times the sunlight found a gap in the cloud mass and intensified the shimmering green leaves.

Causeway No 3

View to the R.

Close up.

View to the left.

It was our lucky day. Cecilia lives locally and was out on her morning walk. We got chatting and she offered to take us along her favourite part of the creek. We about turned, recrossed our 3 causeways and and then crossed another 4 or 5. 

Cecilia leading the way. 
Absolutely spectacular, joyful walking of every step!

Our turn around point and farewell to Cecilia who continued home up  the steep side of the valley.

A lovely sight on an open grassy stretch.

Our return ascent commences.

Listen to the constant sounds of the Aussie bush throughout summer, which accompanied us back up the trail.

We have vowed to return. 

Wednesday however brought the deluges predicted for Monday and as I write this morning, heavy rain is again falling. The creek would be a raging torrent. The Meterorologists are warning that this will be the pattern for summer.

The Hungry Hikers had a similar day planned for yesterday [Wed].  At 5 am the rain was so heavy we quickly called a 'snuggle up with your book' day. With 60 mm falling in 12 hours, it was the correct call. 

Our view during the rain.

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Friday, 19 November 2021

Return to Mt Mitchell

 Wednesday 17 November

I am relieved to report that hiking this week has been a sheer joy! Thursday afternoon of last week, the heat and humidity was broken by a tremendous thunderstorm. Thirty-one millimetres fell in just thirty minutes. Our summer storms don't necessarily bring relief from the humidity, but a week later, we are still enjoying the return of spring-like days and our nights are wonderfully chilly.

Both the Gaiter Girls and Hungry Hikers chose to make the most of this lovely weather. On Tuesday the GG's headed for Lamington Plateau and hiked 21 kilometres of the magnificent Ship's Stern Trail. Surprise, surprise, there was an overload of images, so I will post later of this amazing day!

Earlier this year, I had climbed Mt Mitchell  and Mt Cordeau with my friend Jan. The HH'ers have climbed Mt Cordeau previously, so I felt confident that Mt Mitchell wouldn't be a problem for them. As we made our early approach to Cunninghams Gap, [starting point] both peaks were shrouded in cloud. The closer we came, the more ominous their cliff-front height looked. 

We were only four this week. There was almost revolt in the car as we drove beneath the towering vista of Mt Mitchell. I rapidly reassured them that this was yet another amazingly, graded trail and they would love every minute of hiking.

I'm happy to report that they did love it except for the visit of the unhappy, mother bower bird, the treacherous bogs, raging streams, a frightening python and many tree falls! They rose to the challenges (all very minor] and made it to the top gasping, not for breath, but for the glorious views and ever-changing vegetation.                             

How lovely to enjoy a hot cuppa snug in our coats.The wearing of coats at this time of year is normally non-existant.

Laurel even thought it might snow!

Top left - The female bower bird perched above our table and squawking constantly. We have no idea if, or where her nest was. The male was quite unperturbed.

Laurel acting frightened! Well, we are not sure if she was just acting!

Laurel preparing for the hike. Gaiters to save her from the snakes [1] and repellent for the leeches [nil] and ticks [nil]. The hike commenced through a rainforest canopy.

Ready, set, go! Silly me didn't have my coat on for long, but the temperature was never uncomfortable.

The first of numerous tree falls. The storms had passed through here on several days last week, causing danage to the trail, but bringing very welcome rain to the area. The 'bogs' were tiny and the 'raging streams' a mere trickle.

The snake incident - Margot and I were ahead of Jocelyn and Laurel by a few metres. Suddenly there was the sound of alarm behind us. Laurel had spotted a snake's head looming above the plants beside the path. We must have disturbed the python on our passing. I was able to zoom in with my lens to find him. Quite a big fellow but very harmless in this situation. Laurel has a horrible fear of snakes and wasn't unable to  contemplate dashing passed. Thankfully  the python chose to slither slowly across the path and up the steep slope beside it, into the thick undergrowth. Even then, it took quite some time to reassure Laurel to hike on.

The snake crossing the path - Jocelyn is tapping her poles to make sure the python continues on. Our poles and boots hitting the ground, set off vibrations that alerts snakes of our presence and usually they get out of the way before we see them. 

The views opened up as we climbed higher.

Mt Cordeau

The path narrowed and got steeper as we neared the summit.

Total euphoria as we took in the 360 degree views.

The descent begins.

We were down by 1pm and took a short drive to Lake Moogerah to eat our lunch. It was then a short drive back to Kalbar, where we had read that there were sunflower fields.

We were a week late. These were the remnants about to be ploughed in.

The rural views though, were pretty special.

We took a quieter road home through more lush green farmland. The magic of rain lifted my spirits [not that they needed lifting]. It must be such a relief for the farmers after years of drought brown!

A very successful day summed up by Margot on our hiking page. "It wasn't a walk in the park, but I'd really love to do this lovely hike again."

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