Seven Brothers Monastery hike (Agean, Turkey)

We had heard there was a walk to the Seven Brothers Monastery on the slopes of Mt Latmos. We asked at our guesthouse for some information or a map but nothing was forthcoming. But a quick search of Google helped me find two blogs that were really helpful: Eric and Sylvia’s photo blog (written in 2000) and George and Marta’s blog (written in 2011). I took screen captures of both blogs to use as written and visual guidance. In this post, I will add to the previous bloggers’ works by providing an update on how to walk this trail. I can confirm that not much has changed since Eric and Sylvia’s blog 15 years ago other than that the trail is now sign posted in places and forms part of the Karia Way hiking trail.
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We start our adventure by driving to Golyaka. Here we parked near the small village store, from which you can buy the usual cold drinks, snacks and ice creams. Both previous blogs mention a pension through which you can hire a guide and park for free. This pension has a ‘for sale’ sign on it and a chain across the driveway. It looks run down and neglected so I suspect the option for hiring a guide from there is no longer available (though other places might offer this service instead). We walked up the road from the corner after the shop where the pension used to be keeping the minaret on our right. The road goes straight uphill. Follow it up to the ridge on which the minaret stands (you do not have to go to the minaret, just go to that ridge) and follow the road there uphill to the edge of the village.
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Here you will find a sign marking the Karia Yulu (Karia Way) and Yediler (Seven Brothers Monastery). The monastery is 3km (2 miles) from this point.
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The trail follows a rock fence through fields littered with a healthy (or unhealthy if you are the farmer) quantity of boulders and stones. It’s a stark contrast to the rain forest hiking I am used to at home where trails are lined with dense forest and the surface usually squishy with mud.
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As we climb ever upward we are rewarded with incredible views back over the village and Lake Bafa. It’s easy to imagine this as part of the Agean Sea, as it was back in the Byzantine period. The village almost clings to existence there on the ridge with its pretty blue-topped minaret and red-roofed houses. I imagine it must be a fairly isolated existence living there with your small herd of livestock and food garden.
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We miss this cross painted on a rock on the path. We do not yet know that we are supposed to be following any markers and take the most obvious trail at a junction. This is NOT the correct path.
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This is correct. Notice the red and white paint stripe on the rock; follow these the whole time. Paths with red crosses are incorrect. This is our first time hiking in Turkey and so is our first time dealing with this style of trail marking (I noticed it in Hungary too but there the paint was marked on trees not rocks).
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You might still see these two rough benches under the trees at this junction. Turn right following the red and white paint, not straight ahead where the cross is. This is one of the only difficult navigation points on the trail. You might be used to the red and white (or other coloured) paint markers so might not have difficulty or even notice this point. But I am including it because we missed it and got a little geographically embarrassed.
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The trail slipped up over this rocky shelf. It’s typical of Mt Latmos and I think it’s absolutely beautiful for walking. I much prefer this landscape to the jungles at home.
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A few gates block our path but are easily opened. The gates here are a rough affair, with any materials available quite obviously being all that is necessary to keep the livestock in the correct paddocks.
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Throughout the walk we come to places where we can see the monastery. It’s almost a tease that we have to walk so far around (not that 3km / 2 miles is far). But it’s just there in the gully. And we have to go up a spur before dropping across to get there. A tease. But worth it for the pleasure of hiking here under Mt Latmos.
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And have I mentioned the views? Nice hey.
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After about 2km (1 1/4 miles) the path goes between two rock walls. This feels very much like we are hiking up some Byzantine road, rather than a hiking trail in the 21st century (mind you, this part of Turkey feels more like the 1950s than 2010s). The occasional pine or olive tree shades us from the sun but this hike is mostly exposed and hot. I pity anyone walking here in the summer. It’s already mid-autumn and the temperature is in the high twenties or low thirties.
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Heat aside, it’s stunning. And I am grateful it’s not winter with the violent storms that season is said to bring here. Storms that result in the mountain being known as an angry old man.
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After 3km (2 miles) you will reach this sign. It points back to the village and forward to the next village. The monastery is no longer signed. Go straight ahead here between the rock wall in the direction where you can see the back of my mum’s shirt in this photo. This path will take you to the monastery.
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The Byzantine monks who lived here sometime between 300CE – 1,000CE must have experienced a harsh and austere life. I imagine the summers were torturous for the scorching heat and the winters bitterly cold and wet. I don’t think it snows here but apparently electrical storms are common during the winter months so being surrounded by all this rock would be pretty rugged.
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There’s the remains of a building perched impossibly atop a huge boulder. I wonder whether it was isolated like that in the Byzantine times or whether the rest of the rock fell away over time. Perhaps this was a chapel. I’m not sure because I can’t find enough information online and am not interested enough to invest in one of the books we later found for sale in Kapkiri.
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The site is interesting and we spend about half an hour just wandering around taking photos. We debate pushing on for another 3km (2 miles) on the Karia Way but decide instead to return the way we came. As always, the return journey is faster and easier than the way up. The navigation is easier and we make good time.
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On our return to the village we come across some turtles. They are so funny when they walk. While they carry their homes on their backs, it does not seem a natural thing for them to do.
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Passing the mosque we see a large group of men sitting drinking tea in the shade of a large tent-like structure. It looks like all the men of the village are there drinking tea. They are friendly and wave. I wonder what they are all doing. We’ve seen this more often: men drinking tea in a huge group as though they are having a town meeting. It’s not Sunday or anything. At the bottom of the hill near the car we see what looks like half the village’s women walking along the road carrying cold bottles of soft drink (soda / pop) in plastic bags. We can’t help but wonder who they bought these for and why they had to go get the drinks. All wear the same outfit we will come to recognise as village woman attire: baggy pants, long dress-like top and head scarf. The outfits make the women all look much older than their years. Especially when combined with the aging effects an outdoor existence has on their skin. It’s definitely another world here; one I find myself a little surprised to find.

Jomblang Cave (Central Java, Indonesia)

We’re not quite sure what we’re in for when the driver picks us up from our hostel. We booked the Jomblang Cave your as an adventurous extension of our comfort zones – entry to the cave is courtesy of a 60m descent down a rope. I’m feeling nervous as we get into the car for the two hour drive to the cave. But soon I relax into the air conditioned comfort of the drive along scenic country roads that cross a steep mountain range and roam through quiet villages.

Arriving at Jomblang Cave my concerns about the experience fade quickly. There are about fifty other tourists there, both domestic and foreign. The caving guides look focused, experienced and well-equipped with modern Petzl harnesses, helmets and headlamps. The ropes are obviously new and a two-rope safety system is being used to lower guests into the hole. There are also no ropes rubbing on the edge of the cliff and a massive concrete pillar with shining metal loops is used to take the slack. There’s a rhythm and routine to the operation. No one is chit chatting. The only conversation is Javanese words that must mean the equivalent of “on rope”, “on belay”, “lowering”, “raising”. And each operator has a piece of chalky rock with which they are counting the number of guests being lowered into and raised from the cave so as not to leave anyone behind. I’ve never actually felt so unafraid of a climbing situation before.
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Helmets and harnesses on we join the queue to enter the cave. Before long we are clipped in (one rope on the front and one on the back). Let go of structure. Hold onto rope. Sit back. Look up and smile for the camera (we bought the photo to put on our photo shelf). And then slowly be lowered 60m (180 feet) into the ground.

It’s so peaceful here in the air. We are dangling on a rope and I am not afraid. The air is still. For these moments we are alone on this crazily hectic island. Tree branches brush past us, occasionally touching our legs or arms. This is not an abseil for the walls of the hole are meters from our bodies. It’s almost like we are flying our own private escalator into the land below our planet’s crust.

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Touch down. We are unclipped and set off along the path into the tunnel section of the cave. Despite it being a busy day (there are usually only about 10-20 guests but it is a long weekend so there are many domestic tourists) the cave is peaceful. We clamber down a muddy slope and enter the darkness.

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Looking back at the entrance hole is stunning. The green plants accentuate the beautiful golden sunlight. People are mere silhouettes in Mother Nature’s spectacle.

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We are not quite sure what to expect but follow some white stepping stones into the darkness. Ahead there are some small lights but not enough to see with. Thank goodness for iPhones and their multiple widgets and apps. They make a great torch.

The ground is sticky with mud beneath our feet. Not yucky sloshy mud but that tacky but sticky stuff. Eventually we reach a rockfall that we must negotiate to reach the next chamber. It’s slippery and Paul takes a spill. I am grateful for the Scarpa trekking boots I bought when I was home between trips but poor Paul is wearing joggers and they have no grip.

And then we are there! It’s almost midday and sunlight shines angelicly through a hole in the chamber ceiling. We are on a short of shelf that goes around a deeper hole under the one through which the sun is shining. We can hear water rushing down there somewhere below us. It sounds like a raging underground river.

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But all attention is on the magical angelic light shining into the chamber. It makes for stunning silhouettes.

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Paul does his best impression of 007.

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I poke out my tongue for my “glamour” shot. It’s absolutely fabulous. I am glad that I opened my tight ways to pay the $US80 per person (including private driver) to come here. Because it really is an experience not to be missed if you are on Java.

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We make our way back through the darkness. Playing as ghosts with our phone torches along the way. At the cave entrance the sun is perfectly aligned to enjoy the silhouettes of other guests. We humans really are so small compared to the might of nature. I mean, this cave is so huge that it totally dwarfs us all.

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We climb the steep exit and then wait to be hoisted back out of the cave. With so many guests it is a long wait because each pair of people take a little over one minute to be lifted out. The laugh of the day comes when a group of Chinese tourists push from the very back of the line to the front saying that they have a flight to catch at 3pm. It’s already 1pm when they make this claim so it is obviously a lie (from here it is still a 2 hour drive to the airport if there is no traffic so they cannot make a 3pm flight). When one of the ladies screams as she is lifted from the cave the rest of us all laugh at her. Even the usually reserved Asians for whom social harmony and face is so important cheer at the rude lady’s fear. A Dutch couple can’t let it go though. They whinge and complain the entire wait. The guy says things like “I hope the rope breaks and she falls”. While the girl with him says “Don’t say that or we will be stuck down here longer”. They become the second most unpopular group in the cave because everyone else has moved on. Personally, I didn’t mind sitting in the hole waiting. It was peaceful and a once in a lifetime experience.

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Paul is first to be pulled out of the hole so I get to watch him rise into the sky above me. Then it is my turn. I am paired up with a young boy who has been giving me tips on fun things to do around Yogya (like sandboarding and quad bike riding). I thought I would be afraid on the ascent but, rather, I feel calm and enjoy the experience.

We return to the hostel around 5pm almost ten hours after we left. I’m exhausted so we just walk to the Alun Alun Kidul for dinner and to watch the nightly festivities of the cars again. It’s been another wonderful day in what I think is one of the most under rated South East Asian places: Java.

Redcliffe to Redlands walk – the Redcliffe Peninsula (Queensland, Australia)

Every time I come home it takes me a little while to settle in again. Life on the road is easy. I have a purpose: to travel and explore. When I come home, I struggle to find that purpose. This is particularly true when I am home for longer periods of time. I also find myself putting on weight when I get home because the pantry is so close and I do barely any exercise compared with when I travel. So two days ago I came up with a plan: I am going to slowly walk to my parents’ place on the other side of the city one small section at a time.

I live up on the Redcliffe Peninsula north of Brisbane and my parents live in the Redlands south of Brisbane. I like the connection of the names and the bayside locations. The Moreton Bay Cycleway links most of this route. It’s 160km (100 miles) between my place and my parents’ place (not marked on the map for security reasons). Maybe I will or won’t make it this trip home by walking 5-10km at a time. But at least it’s a project that will keep me entertained. Some sections will be slow because I need to park my motorbike, walk out and walk back. Other sections will be faster because I can park my motorbike at a train station or bus stop and use public transport to return (allowing me to walk forwards rather than walk back to my bike). I have driven, cycled and ridden my motorbike this route many times but I want to see what it looks like on foot.

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Two nights ago I started my adventure by stepping out of my front door and walking 3km south along Scarborough and Queens Beaches. It was dark for most of the walk so I enjoyed the way Redcliffe’s lights danced on the water through the blackness.

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Yesterday a friend from Tasmania came to visit and, together, we walked from Queen’s Beach to Scott’s Point in Margate. We left in the late afternoon and walked into the dusk. A blustery wind blew cold across the bay, forcing us to wear coats. The colours of the sky were fantastic and subtle. Faint red and pale blue highlighted the coral coloured sand.

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Down near the Redcliffe Lagoon someone has painted Aboriginal art on a rock. I love the pride it shows in this minority culture. Yesterday’s walk was another 4.5km south (9km return), bringing my adventure to 7.5km.

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Today my friend was still here so she joined me again for the next leg of my walk. We started at Scott’s Head and walked down to Pelican Park in Clontarf. The wind had died down and the water was chrystal clear.

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Pandanus palms were heavy with fruit. Apparently this is edible but can be difficult to prepare safely (from what I understand). Pandanus palms always make me feel like I am on holidays at the beach.

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Further along the beach the Gayundah Wreck sat quietly on the beach. It was beached here by the government as a wave break to protect the beach. It is a fantastic piece of ocean art because it changes mood every time the weather changes. Today it is calm and surrounded by perfectly clear water. When the tide is low and the weather dark the skeletal wreck is like a frightening hulk attacking the land. It’s makes it easy to walk past.

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The southern end of the Peninsula is different to our northern end. The beaches are longer, the bays they occupy more open and the Norfolk Palms that occupy our shores are fewer. It’s amazing how this one peninsula can have such a variety of water frontages. I am lucky to live here. Tomorrow I will continue further south. Today’s 5km (10km return) took me to the 12.5km mark. It’s a long way to the Redlands but I am excited to have a project to work on; one that will keep me far away from my pantry, burn calories and allow me to explore my city.

A return to Colinton (Brisbane Valley, Australia)

The Queensland Rogaining Association put out a call for volunteers to collect checkpoints from last weekend’s 24 hour Queensland Rogaining Championship event. It seemed to me like a good excuse to get back out on the course to explore the beautiful landscape and also get in some extra navigation practice. So I put up my hand.

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The checkpoint collection was starting from the opposite side of the course from were the hash house had been located. So I had the pleasure of a beautiful motorbike ride down narrow country roads and gravel farm tracks. The more I ride my motorbike the more I miss motorbike touring. I think I will need to rectify that in 2016.

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There were about six of us volunteering to tidy up the checkpoints. We split into teams to tackle different areas. I teamed up with Ryan and together we set off on our adventure. It started with an almost two hour 4WD rumble along rattling farm tracks. While this might have been a breeze in a big 4WD, we only had a little AWD with relatively low clearance. It handled the task well though and I enjoyed being passenger as we bounced along crossing rocky creek beds, following gravel tracks and zipping across golden fields.

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After a scarily steep drive to the top of a hill we parked the car and set off on foot. We each had separate loops of about 12km (8 miles) to collect four checkpoints each. Armed with our respective topographic maps, compasses and two-way radios we parted ways. The bush was so peaceful. The only sound was the breeze through the leaves, the crunch of my feet on the ground, the swish of spear grass against my legs, the twitter of birds and the occasional moo of distant cattle.

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I felt a tad nervous to be heading off into untracked bushland on my own with no one to turn to for backup. What if I couldn’t find the checkpoints? What if my navigation during races was plain good luck? What if it was really my sister who is the navigation brains behind our team? I knew there was no risk of me getting lost because I knew exactly where I was on the map and would be able to get a good visual on the hill again. But what if I came all this way to help collect checkpoints but couldn’t find them? That would be embarrassing.

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I came across a slightly more pressing problem though as I descended the high point into the valley below. Ahead of me and to my right were two herds of cattle. The herd to my right were not too worrying but ahead of me was a big bull mounting a cow. They were directly in my path and he did not look terribly happy with my presence. He dropped down as the rest of his herd thundered away across the spear grass. Instead of following them, he who I had interrupted gave me the kind of death stare I would give someone who interrupted me in similar position. But I’m not a couple of hundred kilograms of meat and muscle. The bull was about 100m away from me and started walking in my general direction, sizing me up. I don’t know whether he would have become aggressive or was just posturing. But I was not going to wait around to see. There was a creek bed to my right with a steep entry. It would probably be too steep for the bull to run down so I ducked into it and moved along close to some trees that shielded me from Mr Bull. He kept an eye on me for a while, took a few more steps in my direction and then watched until I was well clear of his patch.

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Awake and alert now I continued on my mission to find my first checkpoint. I needn’t have feared incompetence because the checkpoint was exactly where the map said it would be. Sure, I took a wrong turn because I didn’t trust myself (this always seems to happen to me on the first checkpoint of any adventure race or rogain – you think I’ learn). But once I stopped, looked around and trusted myself I marched cross country directly to the checkpoint, which was over the next spur.

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Confidence restored I could settle into enjoying the landscape. My third checkpoint took me up a long steep spur to the top of a hill. The climb was calf busting but the views absolutely amazing. From the spur I could look back over the landscape through which my sister and I raced last weekend, and the places where I had just walked to collect the first and second checkpoints. The first checkpoint was behind the long spur in the middle of the picture and the second was in a saddle near the top of the incline that is just visible to the left of the picture. Last weekend, my sister and I crossed the mountains at the back of the photo and came back from our adventure in the dark across the creek further off in the distance.

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I am so glad I put up my hand to collect the checkpoints because it meant I could trek through this beautiful private property. The sky turned moody about half way through my adventure, accentuating the stunning structural beauty of the naked trees along the ridges.

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My final checkpoint took me through this stunning rocky creek bed with waterholes that must be amazing for cooling off in summer. I can just see generations of farmers’ children riding motorbikes and horses out here to chill out.

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They would have to navigate the many fences around the property but being locals they probably know where the gates are. Me, I was on foot so just crawled under these lovely rustic structures that scream “cattle property”.

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First four checkpoints collected I trekked back to the car. Ryan arrived within about 30 seconds of me and together we drove back down the track to do some ‘out-and-back’ checkpoint collection. A few hours later, as the sun started to sink low in the sky, we were done. All that was left was the long cold motorbike ride home, which again made me long for a good old motorbike tour. Or at the very least, an Australian road trip. Good thing Paul and I have a road trip planned for the first week of August 🙂

Mt Ngungun (Glasshouse Mountains, Australia)

My mum, her cousins from Holland, and my sister and her kids had organised a day trip to the Glasshouse Mountains. Naturally, I had to invite myself along for the adventure. The Glasshouse Mountains are a group of volcanic peaks just north of Brisbane. There are hiking and climbing trails to the top of some of the peaks. The walking trails are short and the climbing routes are exposed. But don’t let that stop you exploring this beautiful part of the world.

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Naturally, as soon as we hit the trail the kids took off like rockets. This was after they had been kicking soccer and footballs around the small picnic area at the start of the trail for about an hour.

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The kids might be young and small but that didn’t stop them motoring all the way up the mountain, from the smooth sandy track through the ferns to the rocky ascent above the ferns. It was fun to watch their energy and enthusiasm.

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The very top of the climb is exposed and crosses a rocky ridge. The edges are steep but not high. The kids loved it. (I should mention that there was never any risk of injury or falling. The photos make it look worse than it is).

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1.4km (1 mile) from the start of the walk, we reached the summit. With 360′ views it’s a stunning place. You can see the other Glasshouse Mountains, the sea in the distance and the farmlands in between. As far as hikes go, this one is short and simple but that’s no reason not to do it.

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Naturally, there were lots of selfies to be taken at the summit. In the photo above my sister is taking a photo of my mum huddled with her grand kids. When I think of all the kids who are not allowed to do this and not allowed to do that, I feel sad because when kids are allowed to adventure they love it and it builds resilience. Yes, you could panic that they might fall or stress about the kids whining if they are tired. But in reality, kids don’t take stupid risks if they are used to the outdoors and they don’t tire as easily as we adults often believe. I am glad my sister is raising her kids the way we were raised … because this increases the likelihood that they will be confident to live an adventurous life as adults. It means they are less likely to waste their days in front of reality television instead of creating their own realities.

Queensland Rogaining Championships (Brisbane Valley, Australia)

It didn’t take much for my sister to convince me to join her as part of our two-person rogaining team Whoops Witch Way for the 24 hour Queensland Rogaining Championships. Sure, the event was being held from midday Saturday after I arrived home at 2am on Wednesday morning. But that wasn’t going to stop me going along to play. It just meant that we were going to take things a bit easier to allow for my lack of trek fitness and sleep.

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A short hour drive took us to Colinton at the edge of the Brisbane Valley where the event was held. The field of play would be a huge cattle property with steep rolling hills. It was a very Australiana location for my return home.

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After setting up our respective camps we collected the map and started route planning. We are getting much better at this critical element of the rogain. We no longer attempt to route ourselves around the full course. Rather, we accept our limitations and goal for each event. In this case it meant finding a route that would take us around about 1/3 of the course, skipping far-flung checkpoints.

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And then, at midday, we were off. We actually missed the start because my sister had issues with a water bladder bursting but when you are going out for 24 hours a few minutes doesn’t hurt. Actually, in some ways it is best for us to miss the start because it means that we can’t get stuck in follow mode. We always perform better when we trust our own navigation skills. We might not be fast, but our nav is usually spot on.

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The course was absolutely stunning! And the weather turned on a perfect winter’s day with blue skies and woolly clouds that rolled in to trap some warmth so that the night wasn’t too cold.

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Right from the word go the course took us through challenging terrain. It was steep and hilly with every checkpoint requiring us to hike up at least one, if not more hills. But this just mean the views were even more amazing. Though I have to admit to lacking trek fitness; I will need to do a lot more training on my feet. Cycle touring just doesn’t prepare a person for trekking over 30km cross-country.

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There was plenty of lantana en route too for us to crawl through. You have two choices with lantana: you can complain about its thick thorny branches or you can get down low and try to find a way to tunnel through it. We opted for the latter approach and ducked through some long lantana tunnels. The scratches are generally only shallow and heal in a day or two. Besides, as someone said on Facebook, rogaining is a rugged outdoor adventure sport not triathlon (no offence intended to triathletes).

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As you can see, I enjoyed the first day of the rogain. I didn’t realise how much I have been missing the Australian bush. I felt so happy being out there trekking cross country with nothing but a topographic map and a compass to find our way. Not that we used the compass much at all because we tend to navigate by sight. It’s not an orthodox or technical approach but it works for us. We navigate on the go without spending too much time standing still debating. I generally take care of the big picture navigation while my sister ferrets out the details and checkpoints. She has this amazing eye for detail so if there is even a glimpse of orange or white somewhere in the distance or the bush, her eye will pick it up. Meanwhile, I tend to focus on the macro-environment like rivers, mountains and plains.

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Darkness fell just before 5:30pm. Mountains became looming shadows, lantana became swathes of dark glossy green in our headlights and possums woke to scamper around the trees. The pitch black is no reason to go easy though. We chased down some challenging checkpoints in weed infested gullies and on steep spurs.

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The change of landscape also brought about a change of spirit. The commencement of night is always a time of jokes and laughter. Our only real failing was that we forgot to get out the glow sticks I was carrying. Usually we adorn ourselves in them for a laugh.

We wandered around the bush until 10:30pm when we returned to the hash house for a feed around the campfire. Paul joined us there for a social evening. Rogaining in Queensland is a social sport and many teams had come in to enjoy a yard around the campfire. We had seen the fire from at least a kilometer away out on a ridge. It looked welcoming and that’s exactly what it was.

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After a good sleep we set off again the next morning around 7am with the intention of trekking for four hours. However, the soles of my feet were covered in hot spots and fatigue won over. I am not as fit for trekking as for cycling and need to work on this. Two hours after we set off I couldn’t go any further and insisted we return to the hash house. After-all, we weren’t racing for sheep stations or even for a position. So that’s where our race ended. It was fantastic fun and reignited my desire to get out in the bush as often as possible.

Packed for the next leg of my quest to find 42

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It feels like forever since I was away traveling but in reality it’s only been a month since I returned from Sydney. It’s only three more sleeps until I leave for Malaysia and Japan, and I am ready to hit the road again. My body is rested after enduring some sort of digestive bug for four months (I picked something up early in my trip to Indonesia but didn’t realise how bad it was until a few weeks ago). Some strong antibiotics seem to have done the job and my belly has deflated from the balloon-like state it was in (yay, most of my clothes fit me again). I gave settling down a good try but discovered I still need to be out exploring the world and having adventures so that’s exactly what I am doing.

On Tuesday I will fly to Malaysia and my partner will join me on Wednesday (we couldn’t get on the same flight). Together we will drive to Ipoh to stay on a mushroom farm that we will use as a base for exploring the tea plantations, caves, mosques and temples of the Cameron Highlands. From there we will return the car to KLIA2 and then get a bus down to Melaka where we want to see the Melaka Strait Mosque, which looks amazing on Google Images. After a few days in Melaka we have booked a cheap hotel in Kuala Lumpur for our final few days together before I head off to cycle tour Japan.

I haven’t cycled much since I left South Korea five months ago and the only riding I’ve done since Christmas was to drop my bicycle off at the LBS for a service this week. On the 2.5km (1.5 mile) ride home I noticed that the bike felt like new and what an amazing job the guys at Redcliffe Cycles did for me.

All I know about Japan is that I will arrive in Osaka on 13 April and depart five weeks later from Tokyo. I understand there might still be some snow in the alps on Honshu so that is likely to be the direction I will ride. There might be cherry blossoms but I expect I will be too late to catch them as far south as Osaka and Tokyo. Oh, and I have learned that I will be in Japan for the manic holiday festival of Golden Week, so that might make things interesting later in my trip. Good thing I have a tent and am not afraid to wild camp.

So now I am packed and ready to roll. There’s just enough time for me to head out for walk along the beach here on the Peninsula now that the rain has stopped. I best make the most of it because it will be seven weeks before I can walk along these beaches that have become my home.