Well, this is quite a speedy post seeing how I only visited the Langi Ghiran State Park last weekend. Usually it takes me weeks to write something up, but I thought I should tackle this entry whilst the pain is still fresh! Mind you, I’ve decided this will be my biggest post ever. How did I come up with this idea? Well, none really, other than I’m testing the the concentration span of people reading things online. My study is extremely rudimentary (that means none) but it’ll be interesting to see if anyone can survive a blog post more than 1000 words. Don’t worry, I’ll include photos as well, so you don’t have to go running to the oven to put your head in just yet.
Anyway, the start of any post is a great opportunity to crap on and this one’s no different (but on a much larger scale). I picked out this walk from the recent book ‘Daywalks Around Victoria‘ quite a while ago, but with time being the enemy it’s taken me at least eight months to actually get it done. There’s a few things to take into account though (isn’t there always?)
At the park, information signs at the Langi Ghiran State Park visitor area tell of a straight up and back approach to the 949 metre Mt Langi Ghiran. Bah! I’m a circuit man myself, so how do I get around that? Well, we turn to the ‘Temple of Tempest‘ as the walk described in his book I’ve just mentioned is a circuit, but with a little flavour.
Actually, the walk has ‘traditional Tempest’ written all over it. A casual somnambulant stroll for a few hours, which is interspersed with some off-track anarchy in which there’s a struggle to survive for a few hours and then back to a gliding finish, as if you’re being carried by a dozen half-naked women whilst wearing a toga and being fed grapes. There were potential problems though, but before I get into them I think I need a picture.
Do you remember my 150th post which exhausted me in creating? Well, it was brought to my attention by hundreds and thousands of my adoring fans (one) that a few things were missing in the picture. Well, for the 152nd post, it’s now been fixed.
Now, back to the walk and its problems. Do you realise Parks Victoria have decided a large portion of this walk is closed? They’ve said both Hidden Lagoon Track and Link Track are closed due to ‘storm damage’. Mm… After finding this out a month ago, I actually put the walk off. I’m not sure why, as I’ve learned one thing and that’s a closed walk takes an eternity to reopen. Bloody hell, I’ve been eyeing off a day hike which has been closed for a minimum of 18 months! In fact, one begins to wonder if a walk closed that long will ever reopen? Actually, I don’t really blame Parks Victoria, as they’re both cash and staff strapped.
In my Dandenongs walk I came across a closed track and out of interest I emailed Parks Victoria to find out if there’s an actual offence of walking on a signposted closed track. Guess what? They never replied, so I’ve gone for the wild man/irresponsible approach from now on. I’ll walk the tracks, but have a contingency plan to turn back if it gets too brutal. The trouble is I’ve never seen a closed track that isn’t easily negotiable on foot. I think the only obstacle that would stop me walking would be an unexpected lava field combined with a random meteorite strike at the same time.
So, parts were closed. What next? Oh yeah, the walking notes indicate this stroll would take seven hours. Now, I’ve been a little suspicious of the times since Smuffin and I did the Mt Buller hike from the same book. That day hike was listed at seven hours and it took us twelve. Yes, twelve hours. I had a vision I’d be stumbling along on my own (yes, this was a solo affair) with the headlamp blazing in unfamiliar terrain.
So, in true ‘fiasco style’ I decided to give myself an option of staying out overnight. Yes, I was taking a full pack complete with five litres of water (no water up there). If I was getting hard up for time on the short winter day, at least I could pull up stumps somewhere and sleep out. I was officially the most well equipped day hiker in existence. Should I just get to the walk now…?
Okay, I arrived at the Langi Ghiran State Park visitor area in good time to find it deserted. The forecast was pretty good, but since my Mount Difficult drenching I decided to double my dry bags just in case. I was carrying a lot of stuff, but guess what? I was intending to try out a new pair of boots, but I forgot to bring a thick pair of socks. Feeling a surge of potential ‘blister terror’ coming on, I chickened out and elected to wear my day to day strolling shoes which are a pair of Ahnu Elkridge shoes. These are nice walking shoes and I’ve put a lot of miles on them, but only up and down Bourke Street to get lunch. Mm… What could go wrong?
Oh yeah, I also forgot my first aid kit and heaven forbid, the polariser. What?! I’d brought a neutral density filter instead of the polariser, as the ND one was in the polariser box.
Which tool put it in there? Oh, okay, it was me. So, besides forgetting socks, polariser and the first aid kit, there was the final hiccup. Upon arrival I leapt out the car in a fearsome athletic fashion, to be greeted by the sharp crack of the sound barrier being broken by a button being blown off. Unfortunately, this button is handy, as it holds my pants up. It was a pretty scary experience, as I almost lost an eye.
So, I guess the bottom line is I should lose some weight? How’s this for a story? I visited my long suffering doctor the other day to get blood test results for cholesterol. Even this visit wasn’t simple, as he scanned the results and said, “Oh, I forgot to request for a cholesterol check.” Huh?! He did throw in, “You’re kidneys are fine though!”
As he was writing out another blood test request, he decided to throw in the traditional, “How much do you weigh?” to which I replied, “Stacks”. He then pointed to corner of the room and I sighed. With shoulders slumped and head bowed I shuffled to the place no generous sized gent should go and that’s onto the scales in the doctors office.
With the needle on the scales spinning wildly, it settled around 117 kg. The good doctor then went for the, “Okay, I’ll just check on the computer what you should be according to the Body Mass Index (BMI)”. The BMI is of course the most absurd formula ever invented, so I started waving my arms around and shouting, “Are you nuts?! It’ll say I’m meant to be 90 kgs!”
He pondered in front of the computer screen and then quite cheerfully announced. “90? No, you’re meant to be 85! So, you have to lose about 30 kg!” I’ve been down this road before, as the last time I dipped under 100 kg was in 1999 and that’s because I was lying in hospital. Since then I’ve become a permanent member of the ‘100 club’ and he’s kidding if a man addicted to potatoes is suddenly going to drop 30 kg.
I’ve actually been motoring quite well lately, as I’m attempting to walk home from work at least once a week. It’s quite a commitment to do a 20 km urban stroll after spending a day polishing my trousers in the office. So far my best time has been 3 hrs 21 mins which I think is okay. Ha! I’m flying! Who needs to lose weight?! Then again, imagine how much faster I’d go if I didn’t weigh as much as a small sedan?
Right, the walk. Um… No, not yet, as there’s one more thing. I noticed there’s barely anything written about Mt Langi Ghiran online. I mean, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page! Egads! In fact, the only thing you’re really going to find on Google is the nearby winery with the same name. Oh well, I guess this post might have to be the definitive one to read, plus you get the bonus of reading about my pants exploding.
Okay, I headed off and the start is very casual, but it was quite early on that I noticed something. I cruised around some huge granite boulders which dominate this area…
…and then passed this small reservoir.
As I was doing so, I came to the conclusion my Ahnu shoes, whilst lovely for walking, were actually completely crap on wet surfaces. In fact, the first damp granite rocks I walked across became quite a tricky affair. The soles seem to have been built with discarded banana peels. I had my arms out horizontal whilst my feet were sliding on any wet surface I stepped on.
This was a concern, as the walking notes state “…don’t attempt this walk in wet weather as the rocks and slabs can become very slippery…” It may have been sunny, but being winter meant that the cold nights had left the whole area wet with dew. So, what did I do? Well, I ignored the problem and kept walking. What sort of crap post would this be if I turned around now and went back to the car?
I continued sliding on and then I reached the much larger Langi Ghiran Reservoir…
…which looked quite nice under the blue skies, but where was the polariser when I needed it..?
It was around this point I looked at the signs nearby and became slightly scared. Let’s have a look at this one for starters…
…but a series of others were really over the top. I could just show you a couple, but for the sake of the world’s largest post I’m going to show you the lot. The first one is quite obvious I guess…
…and then there was one which seemed to have been created to warn me about my banana skin soles. I did admire his falling over élan though, which looks more like fun than anything else…
…but hang on, what’s going on in the next one?
He’s replicated the skilful fall, but what’s the sign warning me of? Beware of earthquakes?
When it came to the last one though I’d given up, as it’s either warning me to beware of slight depressions in the ground or don’t go bustin’ your best disco moves in the area as your waist will split.
I continued on, following an old water race with the still wet vegetation giving me the ‘shining balls of light’ look…
…and the occasional reflection in the pools of water lying around.
There was a steady climb to a spot called the Pipeline Lookout. What’s that you ask? Well, there’s a pipeline coming out of the ground next to a boulder, that’s been hacked and smashed into a lookout platform, but guess what? In keeping with the theme of the area, it was closed.
You do know this platform will never ever reopen again, don’t you? Well, I looked at it and as it only appeared to be about my height in total, I decided to brave the climb. All ten steps of it.
I reached the top unscathed and surveyed the area. It then dawned on me it might have been shut, due to the fact it failed in its job description of a ‘lookout’. Surely it was false advertising?
Then it was time to descend the heady heights of the lookout, but with a bit of care, due to my super slippery shoes.
I made it down alive. Just. Continuing on, the area was dotted with huge granite boulders…
…as I strolled along a nice wide track.
It then began to climb steeply and I shuffled along until reaching a rock cairn, which indicated it was time to head bush for the final climb to the summit. I’m not sure what this is, but there was a metal ‘thing’ lying near the turn-off.
There’s roughly 500 metres of off-track walking to the summit, which weaves around the ubiquitous granite boulders…
…of which some were split into segments.
Although there was no track, the way ahead was pretty clear…
…as I kept to a simple, summit formula which was head for the highest point and don’t go near the vertical drops! Actually, I was going slowly along here, as my banana skin soles refused to grip to anything that was remotely on an angle. Don’t laugh, but I considered taking the shoes off and heading for the top in either socks or bare feet.
The slow going did give me a chance to enjoy the view behind me now, as I’d left the majority of trees behind…
…and the Challicum Hills Wind Farm was clearly visible.
There were the occasional pools of water amongst the rocks, which were full of ‘pond plants’. Actually, I couldn’t be bothered looking up what these plants are, so you’ll have to do with ‘pond plants’ as a description.
I finally reached what seemed like the top and climbed one last noticeable boulder, higher than anything else and that was that. I can say the view is pretty spectacular, but I didn’t seem to take many photos? I did do a video, but for the life of me it won’t upload to Vimeo, so you’ll have to make do with… well… not much.
There were two things I noticed though. The first is I was feeling mildly suicidal for not having the polariser with me and the other was it was insanely quiet on top. Truly, ‘hear a pin drop’ sort of stuff and at first it was quite unnerving, until I started eating my lunch on top of the boulder and the sound of my jaw created a bit of noise.
I guess I spent half an hour on my rock before thinking about moving on. The walk was now heading into the spicy part of the day though, as another off-track section was coming up. This part looked a little dramatic though.
The idea was to head over the top of the mountain and down the other side to link up with another track. What made me ponder though, was the notes which said, “…only 300 metres down the West Ridge to the saddle…scrambling involved…awkward route finding…allow at least an hour to descend to the saddle…”
Mm… Okay. An hour to go 300 metres? How hard can it be? Well people, read on and let me enlighten you. The GPS route for this walk is available at the Open Spaces Books website and I’d downloaded it. The thing is though, I didn’t want to be just staring at the GPS trying to replicate the exact route, as I always find things harder that way. I like to get the idea of direction and then look ahead at the lie of the land to work out the easiest way, without constantly staring at a little GPS screen. Mostly.
Anyway, off I strolled and the way ahead consisted of avoiding a few cliffs here and there and weaving around enormous boulders whilst inching down.
Things were going fine until the ‘Hiking Fiasco’ curse began to kick in and it actually goes all the way back to the start of the day, when I elected to wear my banana skin soled Ahnu shoes. Firstly, no photos can do justice to the size and slipperiness of the huge granite boulders.
I was taking it easy until I reached the top of a long, sloping piece of rock that was wet, but I thought if I could hug the sides I’d be able to shuffle down. I was being cautious to the point I’d even put my cameras away in fear of potential damage. My brain was ticking over saying, “Be careful here. Whatever you do, don’t slip and fall.” As a result of this thought I then fell.
In fact I had a cartoon style fall where both feet slipped out (actually a bit like that bloke falling over in the signs earlier) and I landed on my arse and then proceeded to slide down the entire length of the sloping rock with my arms waving in the air as if I was on a roller coaster. Can I inform you now. Sliding with your bum on a granite rock isn’t very comfortable. In fact it was truly a ‘brutal buttock bashing’ (BBB).
I slid until I reached the bottom and found myself lying on my back wondering if I was still alive. There was a fair bit of pain in roughly 99.7 % of my body, so I thought it was best to just lie there and stare at the sky for a few mintues to regroup.
You know what though? It was a wise move, because as I lay there in total silence an enormous eagle appeared and stopped directly above, no more than 10 metres away. Langi Ghiran does have eagles and I can’t say I’ve ever seen one so close before. He was magnificent, but by the same token I thought to myself, “Does he think I’m dead? Am I possibly the largest piece of food he has ever seen? All 117 kgs of tucker?”
I’d put the cameras away, so I couldn’t capture him, but I was also thinking I should just ‘enjoy’ the moment without trying to record it. Sometimes it pays to look at stuff, instead of trying to validate the experience by taking a photograph. He remained stationary for quite some time before swooping away. I guess he realised I was alive after all?
I stood up and began to count the cost. Firstly here’s the rock and it really doesn’t look that bad does it? Well, actually it is, as I fell from the top in the middle of the rocks where the grass is.
I had a compact camera in my pocket which was not the wisest place for it to be, but at least I’d put the DSLR in the backpack for maximum protection. As a result the compact had a bit of battle damage…
… but considering my hands were bouncing off granite I was very impressed by such little amount of blood.
I know what you’re wondering though. “What about the fiasco man’s arse?” Well, fabric and granite don’t mix, as my favourite pants were now air-conditioned. From the back.
What can I say? Those bloody slippery Ahnu shoes finally got me in the end. Checking the time, I’d descended in a lot less than an hour. It’s a method you might be interested in if you seek a quicker descent, as I found falling to be an effective way to get down faster. I now continued down with my breezy pants keeping me a little bit cooler than normal.
There were some nice rocks to look at on the way.
Finally I reached a more comfortable, level area, but this side of the mountain was looking a little different. The terrain was now ferns and fallen trees with plenty of moss around on display.
There were also some enormous boulders hidden amongst the trees, I was glad I didn’t slide down this particular one. If I did, I’d still be going.
I mentioned in my last post how off-track walking is an acquired taste. I seem to spend most of my time on the edge of falling over. Tree roots pull at my legs and it certainly didn’t help with a sea of ferns, in which I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet at all. I stumbled on and came across the remains of the last off-track hiker who’d attempted to walk through here.
There’s supposedly a rough track marked with tape in places, but I’d be buggered if I could find it. I more or less elected to head south and make my way through ferns which at times were chest high…
… whilst gradually descending the whole time. I’ve no idea how I didn’t fall over again whilst wading through the wet undergrowth.
Remember that business I just mentioned about a taped track? Look! I found it! All one of them!
Actually, that solitary piece of blue tape was the only one I saw during the entire off-track section, which possibly means I was wildly lost. As before, I tried not to become a total slave to the GPS, as I looked for the easiest way down whilst still heading in a sort of southerly direction.
I continued bumbling along until suddenly Lagoon Track appeared and I was back to normality. Well, how much fun was that?! There’s a place called ‘Hidden Lagoon’, which I considered I’d set-up for the night if I was running late in the day. The thing is though I wasn’t and with time in hand, I kept moving on until finding the turn-off to the lagoon.
I’ve seen pictures of Hidden Lagoon filled with water and I thought we’d had plenty of rain lately to fill it. I guess not in this area, as it was completely dry.
What to do? Well, I ended up just changing my mind. I was pretty sore from the fall and my back had a twinge happening. Instead of a tent, I thought it best to have a bed overnight, so I continued on. Actually, there were some nice views as the tracks continued to descend.
You know what though? Whilst strolling down Link Track, I must say it has a section which is one of the steepest of formed tracks I’ve walked on for some time. Again, photos didn’t indicate, but it drops off quickly. In fact an easier way of showing it is the elevation of the walk which I downloaded from the GPS. The section between 10 and 12 kms is what you should be looking at, as it absolutely plummets.
In fact, do you know how steep it was? My knees ache on downhill sections and if the terrain is too steep I tend to find the only relief is to walk backwards. I can’t say I’ve done that for a while, but on this track I reverted to reverse, as it was the only way I could get down without my knees detonating.
Once that was done I reached the very casual Langi Ghiran Track which was a relief for my legs.
There were about four kilometres of walking along this section, but it suited me to finish off in comfort and before I knew it, the car was in sight. Wow. Quite a day!
Now, what do I make of it all? Well, firstly I didn’t see any signs at the closed tracks telling me I shouldn’t be there. Oh yeah, they might be tricky in a car, but they’re a cinch to walk on and in fact I’ve no idea why the Parks Victoria website says they’re shut? No idea, but yet again my ‘closed track’ theory about accessibility was correct. Again.
Do you remember my carry-on at the start of the post about camping out as I might run out of time? Well, I’m not sure what I was thinking, as the seven hour walk only took me six and a half. Where’s my doctor?! I must be fitter than I thought.
I guess it was time to head back home and count the cost of the days activities. My duds were dead, but I was lucky to find another pair on sale this week (who pays full price for hiking gear? The stuff just doesn’t last) and I’m back in action. I do know I’ll never be wearing the Ahnu Elkridge shoes again if there’s tricky terrain. They are great to walk in, but sorry, the grip on the soles are absolute crap. In fact, I’ve mentioned them so often, I think it’s best to see them at the end of another nightmarish interesting hike.