Boobyalla Saddle in snow

Mt Donna Buang – Boobyalla Saddle in snow

22 August 2017

Fist sight of snow
Fist sight of snow

Started from the BBQ area on Dammans Rd near Martyr Rd – it’s very handy, there is a toilet block on the other side of the road with potable water. It was a beautiful, sunny day; bit chilly so I got into schwung up on Martyr Rd which warmed me up in no time. The lady walking her two dogs coming from the opposite direction looked at me strangely.

People are nice – they’ve left sticks at the trail head for those who didn’t bring poles. I had mines – would never leave up this track without them. I was dreading the mud, but didn’t think it would be this much and this thick. Many times I took one step ahead and slipped two back; you could tell there were others who slipped there, too. It lasted about 3 kms and a bit, then it got a bit better. Still lots of deer foot prints at O’Shannassy Aqueduct crossing. That always makes me wonder where they might be…

I wasn’t in a rush, wanted to get to Boobyalla Saddle (at least) or to the Dom Dom Saddle turnoff a few kms further up and back. Could hear the lyrebirds and cockatoos, but didn’t see them. At about 4 kms into the trip (around 1000 m elevation) I’ve noticed something white where the fern tree’s leaves meet – it was snow!! Johnny Gee was right! He warned me about snow on Mt Donna Buang the day before. I took a few pics and kept going. More and more patches and I just couldn’t resist, had to take some more pictures.

Finally got to the Mt Donna Buang Road crossing. I always know when I am getting closer – can hear the creek flowing. There was snow on both sides of the road; not too much, but it was. Took some more pics, for good measure, then crossed the road and headed up the fire track towards Mt Victoria. Even more snow!! More pics… I saw a lyre bird, but when I got closer, it ran off into the bush. I stopped on the side of the road to put the Bonatti on. I knew it’s going to get cooler towards the top.

As I was approaching Mt Victoria, I could hear voices and some machinery – must be some works at the tower… as it turned out, that was the case. Two guys working – one on the ground, checking with the one on the tower – and three more standing by, checking their phones. Took some more pictures here, the snow was thicker and completely covered the ground, then kept going, saying hello to the one working (the rest didn’t care).

Mt Victoria Trak
Mt Victoria Trak

It was so beautiful and the snow was nice and soft in places. The kind of snow you can make a snowman from. About half way between Mt Victoria and Mt Donna Buang I took some more pics and a video. Wanted to capture the moment – can’t see snow every day, especially not this close to Narre Warren. I started to feel that the left shoe is hurting my ankle – no good, still a long way from coming back…

When I was getting close to Mt Donna Buang, I could hear noises. It’s usually very silent here during the week, but today it was a beautiful day with snow!! Grandparents took their grandkids for tobogganing and Asian tourist with sophisticated cameras were doing what Asian tourists do. There was a truck close to the toilets, pumping the shit, which then validated the smell I could feel on the way up. I said hello to those guys as I was walking towards the lookout. Climbed up, took some photos, said hello to the two people up there, then headed down. The track towards Mt Dom Dom looked awesome from up there!

it makes sense
Hmm… it makes sense..

Before heading down, took some more pics. I should stop mentioning this, it’s getting boring, but the truth is, I took about 80 odd pics on this trip. Running down that slope (people have been tobogganing on it earlier, based on the marks in the snow) was so much fun! I could do that all day. The sign that says “Warning do not go past this point in winter” was obviously ignored by many people based on the footmarks in the snow.

That’s the thing about out and backs – the awesome downhills are spoiled by the thought of having to climb back on return. That’s why I prefer loops, but here it’s not feasible, I checked.

The timber crossing at Cement Creek was covered by snow. As I was approaching, I thought “Ohhh… I won’t get sucked into slipping again!”, but the snow was kinda buffering the slippery surface, so I decided to give it a go and managed without falling. I was pretty impressed with myself then! On the way up to Mt Boobyalla, I was thinking that the overpants I’m carrying in my pack would be very useful in avoiding all the scratched to my legs, but then I thought I’ll just pull them out if absolutely necessary. Weather can change and it can get very cold and that’s when I’ll really need them. By this time my shoes were nice and clean (well, relatively) – all the mud I collected on the way up to Mt Donna Buang was gone, but my feet were wet. Sloshing wet!

Mt Boobyalla
Mt Boobyalla

When I got to Mt Boobyalla I thought, I’ll better keep moving, will go to the cairn on my way back. The downhill was awesome until the last steep descent onto Road 4. That was a bit hairy. Slipped a few times there. At the intersection I looked around – quite a different view from the other time I’ve been here, then headed left towards Boobyalla Saddle. At the Road 7 and Road 4 intersection I had a look at the “Unauthorised entry prohibited” sign and thought I have no intention whatsoever to head down that road right now – they can keep it for themselves! – then turned right and jogged a bit to Boobyalla Saddle. My watch beeped the 14 km mark. Took a few pics, then turned around.

Funny thing about these out and backs is, that you get to follow your own footsteps on the way back. It’s a reassuring feeling. Only Speedcross marks in the snow were mine, so that wasn’t so hard to discern. There were some not so friendly clouds ahead, but when I looked back, I could see blue sky. I was hoping I wasn’t heading into a rain or snow storm.

The sign towards Mt Donna
Now it looks quite different

Climbing back up that short section after the Mt Donna Buang turnoff was not exactly a piece of cake. It was steep and slippery. Not sure how I would’ve managed without the poles. Couldn’t wait to get to Mt Boobyalla, because I knew there would be some downhill after. When I got to the summit, I went around the cairn, and thought about that scene in “A Good Year” when they do the victory dance after the tennis match… The downhill wasn’t as much fun as I anticipated because of the scratching bushes along the narrow track. My legs were burning by now and my feet were kinda cold with all the sloshing. Not the chilly kind of cold, when you can’t feel your toes, but wasn’t warm, either.

At Cement Creek, I took it for granted that I won’t slip, so I promptly hit my leg when it slipped under the next timber. Dropped an f-bomb as one would in such a case. Climbing back on that hill to Mt Donna Buang was harder than I anticipated. As I was getting closer, I saw a snowman, then another one. This latter, even had a carrot nose. I thought I’d take a pic as I get closer. When I next looked, the carrot was gone (I thought I was seeing things), so I got closer to find out, the carrot fell out. Like a good citizen would do, I went there to put it back, but the damn thing kept falling out. Didn’t matter which end, the hole was icy, didn’t hold it anymore, so I put it next to the snowman, thinking that I would really love to eat that carrot.

Those were scratchy
Those were scratchy

Headed down towards Mt Victoria and suddenly heard noises. Saw an elderly couple struggling on the slope. Asked them if they were okay and if they needed help. They didn’t need any help, were so happy to see snow – they were from Western Australia. Found out the lady was Dutch and the man was Italian. He hasn’t seen snow since his twenties… we had a little chat, then wished all the best and I bolted down, enjoying the downhill in the snow. Thing is, running in the snow is pretty much like shuffling in the sand – very inefficient on the flat and uphill, but downhill is so much fun!!

The track to Mt Victoria was sloshy, as more people have walked it during the day. Wasn’t as much fun as on the way here and those low ferns have really scratched my legs now. At Mt Victoria the boys were still at work. Waved them and kept running to be startled by a dead deer just a few meters down the track. I hopped about a meter to the right (it was on the left side of the track), had a quick second look and kept going wondering how could I miss it on the way here… I can usually pick up some speed (well, compared to the rest of the trip) here, until I reach the road. There were cars coming down from Mt Donna Buang.

I’ve been eating quite a lot on this trip and I was sorry I didn’t bring my usual quarter sandwiches. The cold makes you hungry. I still had some chocolate, crystallized ginger and a VFuel gel – consumed everything else. Had plenty of water, only drank about 500 ml.

So much mud…

For a km or so the downhill was okay. I mean my legs still got strangled in wet and muddy bark, expecting to fall any moment, but I knew the hard and yucky bit was still to come. And come it did! Sticky, thick black mud, sometimes deeper than ankle height. I didn’t feel like flying down today, just wanted to avoid landing on my bum; managed for a while, but at some point I inevitably fell. Not really on my bum, but on my back, hitting the ribs on the left side. I lied there for a few moments until I could stand up propping the poles into the ground. Then I had to stand a little until I managed to breathe properly. I used that time to take a couple of mud shots… This downhill is very taxing on both the body and the mind, especially if you want to do it fast.

Couldn’t wait to get to Martyr Road. Once there I admired the beautiful flowers and the blooming trees. Couldn’t feel their aroma, because there was smoke coming from the chimneys, but the sight itself was worth it. Made me forget about all that mud for a little while. When I was back at the car, I got the dry clothes and shoes and headed to the toilet block to scrub up and change. It makes a huge difference driving home like that. I also had the few mouthfuls of steak I brought with me and really craved a beer. I thought I should just walk into the pub on the opposite side of the road and have one.

Took a while to clean these

All up it was a beautiful day, the snow was such a bonus. If I did it again, I’d take less pics and make it to the Dom Dom Saddle turnoff.

Food: two mandarins, a Nice & Natural roasted nut bar (choc apricot flavour) which gets a bit hard to manage when it’s nearly frozen; dark mint chocolate, crystallized ginger, an Endura Cool Mint gel (weird feeling when it’s a bit luke warm, but it does feel cool once you had it), Mocha Cliff gel (very sticky, but I like the flavour – if VFuel had something similar, it would be a winning combo). I left the VFuel last and didn’t end up having it.

Gear: I left in a Salomon lightweight jacket and took the Bonatti and the waterproof over pants with me. Didn’t use the over pants, but the thicker jacket would’ve been a better option.

Check out the full galery below

 

Dom oDom Saddle to Warburton

Dom Dom Saddle to Warburton

01 August 2017

The trail head at Dom Dom
The trail head at Dom Dom

The plan was to check out the trail from Dom Dom Saddle to Boobyalla Saddle for Thursday. A small group of us was supposed to go from Warburton to Dom Dom that day. I already knew what the first bit was, but wanted to see the second half. Plotted the route on Strava—33.3 km, 777 m elevation, estimated moving time 5.15 hrs. I thought I should be able to do it in 6 – 6.30 with photos and map checks.

There were 3°C and beautiful sunshine when I pulled up at the Dom Dom Picnic Ground at about 9:40. A Telstra car was leaving—I was the only one now. Toilets are a bit dodgy there, I would surely stay away from them in the dark. I’ve geared up, tossing about what to take with me; I decided to leave the thermal top in the car, but take both the waterproof jacket and pants—just in case. I also took the second soft flask, even though I normally don’t drink much water. Checked if the pdf map I just bought from Avenza was working, took a few pics then started the watch.

[I have checked the map and took lots of photos on this trip—won’t mention it every time]

The trail head was easy to find, the sign said 21 km to Mt Donna Buang, I only needed to do about 15 of these one way. It took me about a kilometer to warm up, thinking how lucky I am to be able to do this on such a gorgeous weekday. Saw a wallaby hopping away, then a 750 ml beer bottle on a tree trunk. A foul smell hit me—dead roo on the right, falling apart, I speeded up a little to get out of that area. I was really happy to see the simple walking track signs and remembered Chris Ord mentioning that this track is gazeted all the way to Mt Donna Buang.

Road 8
Road 8

Road 8, the fire track I was following was beautiful for most of the time with gravel in some places. At about 3.5 kms there were big rocks across the track, then the walking track veers to the right, running paralell with the (now gravel) fire road. Couple of hundred meters later there is a clearly signed track (Morleys Walking Track) to the right towards Fernshaw. I’ve been thinking—if the whole route is this well signed, I’m winning!

At km 4, the walking track arrives back to the gravel road, where I had two choices: continue on the gravel or take the track that heads up and looks similar to the one I’ve just came on. I thought it’s just logical to take the walking track, Parks Victoria probably wants to keep walkers off the roads. I headed up on the walking track…it was a bit suspicious, bit overgrown, but I thought maybe not too many people go through here (and those who did must have used machetes, based on the cut vegetation that was sticking out of the ground). Climbed 37 m over 300 m to arrive to a dead end. There was a slight chance to get through those sticky grasses, but I thought it’s safer to just go back and follow the road.

First detour
First detour

This was my first detour (0.6 km extra), but I didn’t mind—it’s all in the package when I go the first time. Besides the weather was absolutely beautiful, LiveTrack was working (meaning Otto wasn’t freaking out about where I am) and I was happy. After climbing about 400 m on that gravel road I arrived to the Road 8 – Carters Gap intersection. The latter was closed with a gate. When I looked to my right, I saw a track head, but then after 2-3 m it was nearly impassable, just like the other bit I’ve looked at earlier. I thought these two would be connected, running along the gravel road. A closer look at the strava map shows a different picture…

I kept going up the gravel road that turned into gravelly-bark at the clearing that hosts a helipad. You could tell there were people at some point, they left rubbish behind. The map I was using (copied  and highlighted the relevant section) was McMahons Creek 8022-N Vicmap, 1:50 000 and it showed that there was the road I was on, veering to the right; a walking track to the left, that headed N-NW towards Carters Gap Road (I found that strange, because if Carters Gap Road is closed, what’s the point for a walking track to go there) which I couldn’t see anywhere and another track that was marked RPC (Road Permanently Closed). I was dubious about the track I saw to my right, but I thought I need to check it out.

Second detour
Second detour

The pdf map wasn’t working since the Morleys turnoff—I kept checking it.

As I was descending on this steep, not much fun surface (again, people have “cleaned” it with machete), I was thinking, if I have to come back on this in vein, I’ll be very pissed. Sure enough, I got to a dead end. Again, same picture as the other one: dense vegetation with lots of sticky grasses, so I turned around and started hiking back on the steep slope, passing again the North Face black and red beanie I’ve seen on my way down. This was an approx 800 m detour with about 105 m descent and the same amount of ascent. Looking at the Strava map now, if someone cut through that mean bushes for another 250 m, they would’ve created a shortcut. A quite steep one, but shortcut.

On the right track
On the right track

Once back at the helipad I thought I’d just follow the road, it has to take me somewhere. After about 200 m there was the turnoff! The track was grassy, quite nice to run on, with beautiful views of Mt Richie and Mt Strickland to the left; then it turned into a rocky-barky-dirt road. There was a part of the forest that must have burnt down after it was cut—looked like a burnt tree cemetery. I climbed on a trunk and took a few pics of the strange site.

I had mixed feeling about getting to Mt Vinegar (whoever knows me well, knows why). I was surprised to see such a small cairn for a mountain 1080 m high. After the Mt Vinegar summit, there was a pleasant 2.5 km downhill to the intersection of Road 27 and Mt Vinegar Road. First sign in quite some kilometers! I was a bit concerned, I’ve already spent 2 hours and 40 minutes and still have about 3.5 km to go to the turning point. Even though from Mt Vinegar it will be mostly downhill, I’ll still  need to hike back there.

Otto called me a few times to check if I was OK—so nice of him. I just wish he wouldn’t worry that much.

Worst part
The nasty bit

I headed on Road 27 where the sign pointed me. After about 700 m, there was another signed intersection with Road 27 closed to the right, pointing walkers to go straight. Problem was, this walking track was one where you’d need a machete or serious protective clothing. The Lululemon long sleeve top and the knee length crops I was wearing didn’t protect me from those mean grasses that scratched my legs and face and got stuck on my clothes. I was hoping it won’t be for too long. Luckily, some generous soul has marked the track with pink tape, which helped a lot. Suffering score here was just too high.

I thought I should’ve put on my waterproof overpants—at least that would protect my legs. I kept putting it off, but when I got to a point where the pink tapes disappeared, I stopped and put them on. By this time I had quite a generous amount of mud on my shoes. The sweat made the scratches sting underneath the overpants and it was quite warm in places. Otto called again to ask me why I went off track. Told him there is not much track here, but I shouldn’t be far from The Knobs. There was mud underneath broken branches and since there was no visible track, I just went and followed my instinct. The Knobs are a few rocks with one bigger (about 70 cm tall) holding a few smaller ones. Nothing special, but meaningful in that situation. I must have startled a deer or something here.

I was so hoping that the scratchy track ends soon and was dreading coming back the same way. At this point I have already done 15.8 km and it was already 1.33 in the afternoon, 3 hours and 40 minutes since I’ve started. When I reached the end of this track and was in an intersection, where Acheron Gap was going left and the road to Mt Donna Buang to the right, Otto called again and told me how way off the track I went and shouldn’t I be already heading back? Told him that now I am on the right track and I should be going if I want to make it back in time. I was also getting cold when stopped.

Boobyalla Saddle
Boobyalla Saddle

I really wanted to reach Boobyalla Saddle, but the trip back??!!…Dunno. I had nearly done 20 kms to the intersection at Boobyalla Saddle. By the way, Boobyalla Saddle is a bit further up and is this gorgeous clearing. When I first approached it, it seemed as someone was smoking behind the ferns—there was steam raising from them as the sun shone through. At some point I could hear motor bikes, which I found very strange.

By the time I got to this point, I had the backup plan—I’ll keep goint to Warburton (only 14 km) and catch a taxi to Dom Dom Saddle where I left my car. I have already imagined how I’ll need to store my shoes and overpants to be accepted into one. I thought I’d go to the police station and ask where I can get one (taxi). Wanted to call Otto to tell him about this, but there was no network. Wrote an sms and kept trying to send it. My phone was running low on battery (24%) and I didn’t bring my charger, either. Wouldn’t have had enough food and water to make it back to Dom Dom after this.

Tyre mark on Mt Boobyalla
Tyre marks on Mt Boobyalla

Hiked up to Mt Boobyalla (gosh that’s a steep one, too) and was surprised to see fresh motorbike tracks on that single trail. It would really freak me out to bump into one there. I didn’t go to the cairn this time, even though it looked so beautiful in the sunshine. The walking track was quite soft and muddy, with water flowing down, just like on Telegraph Track at the Prom after a rain. There was ice in places. Otto messaged me, but by the time I started to reply, he called, told him what my plan was. He wasn’t happy about it.

Crossed the puddle at Cement Creek and kept going up. I pretty much stepped on it from The Knobs. When I got to Mt Donna Buang, I saw a car and could hear voices of a girl and a guy, but couldn’t see them anywhere. Didn’t feel like going up to the lookout this time. I was pretty much exhausted and there were another 8 kms of rough going (even though it’s mostly downhill) before I get to civilisation. This is when I realised—I haven’t seen one soul along these 24.5 kms. I went into the toilet block to fill my soft flask, as I only had a few sips of water left, but the sign said “Untreated water. Do not drink”—couldn’t be bothered at that point.

I’ve already had the two quarter sandwiches, the mandarine and the two gels I brought along. Still had some dark chocolate, but I was really hungry. Well… I’ve been in worse situations, toughened up and kept going downhill. There was still so much mud in some places along the track, just wasn’t funny. Didn’t care much where I was stepping until I saw a little mouse-like animal on the track—dead. Nearly squashed it, but stopped the last moment. Later down someone must have stepped on one, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I couldn’t wait to get to Mt Victoria, then to the road. I ran as fast as I could here, wondering how long I could keep this pace up.

Once I reached the road (Mt Donna Buang Rd) I was looking forward to get to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct. I landed on my bum once and hit my shin in a fallen branch, still slippery and lots of mud. This part felt harder than previous times, couldn’t wait to get to the road. When I see the little green shed on the left I know it’s soon over, and so it was. On my way down Martyr Road, I’ve noticed an elderly lady bringing out the rubbish bin, hoped she’d wait a little, but she walked back towards the house. Another lady appeared, waved her then asked her where could I find a taxi. She told me that there are no taxis in Warburton, but to go to the Hotel (gave me clear instructions), they’d be able to call me one if there is any nearby.

I went into the toilet block opposite the BBQ area on the left to clean up. Took off the muddy overpants and the wet long sleeve and put on the Salomon jacket. Washed the mud off my hands, picked up my stuff and started walking towards the pub (Alpine Retreat Hotel), carrying the pack in one hand and the overpants in the other. There were two guys and the bar tender in the pub. Asked the latter if he would call me a taxi. He looked at me strangely, told me there are no taxis in Warburton, but picked up a business card and called them. A few minutes later, he hung up with a sad face and told me there are  no taxis in the area, but I could catch a bus.

I had no money with me and I doubted there would be a bus that goes towards Dom Dom—maybe to Healesville?? I thanked him and went out. Called my daughter, Suzie—message bank…then tried my brother-in-law, Nelu. He answered and said that he was going to finish in about half an hour, then go the gym, but when I told him the situation, he said that he’s coming to pick me up “go and have a beer and eat something, I’ll pay for it when I get there”. Gave him the directions, then went back and asked Eric (the bartender) if I could wait there. At least it was warmer. Otto called, told him what was happening, I guess he calmed down a bit knowing that I’ll be in good hands.

The beer
..and the beer

There were a few guys in the pub, having their beers, chatting away. An elderly man asked me what happened. Told him the story, when he heard where my car was, he said “holy shit!” then he called me crazy a few more times later, checking quite often if someone is coming to get me. Nice people, there!

My body temperature started to fall in spite of being inside, as the top underneath the jacket and the ¾ crops I was wearing were wet (from the sweat), started shivering. I’ve put on my gloves and kept looking out and watching people come in, play pool, talk, swear, the bartenders serving them…

When Nelu has arrived, he saw me from the car and honked me. I was so happy to see him!!! He ordered a beer and roast lamb (I’ve been eyeing the blackboard for more than an hour and swallowing big time when I saw the guys with their beer). We finished all the food, had another beer, a great conversation then took off to Dom Dom Saddle. It was nice and warm in the car, especially the seat warmers! There was only one car at Dom Dom Saddle—mine. I was happy to see that no one tried to break into it. As I leaned into the car I realised I’ve lost my poles!!! Told Nelu, he was inclined to go back, but I thought I must have left them in the toilet block. Head slap!!!

On the way home I drove in front, as I knew the road well. Before Berwick we stopped, said good bye and I turned right while Nelu kept going straight through Berwick. Got home a bit after 10.00 P.M., called the Warby Pub about the poles (in case I’ve left them there). Colin promised me he will check it out in the morning. When I called next day, he told me he went to the toilet block and found them.

What a day!!! Glad it ended like this—it could’ve been very bad.

Food: Two quarter sandwiches (toast, butter, cheese, salami, lettuce) with 4 mini roma tomatoes each, two gels (1 Hammer Citrus and 1 VFuel Chocolate Fudge—VFuel wins hands down!!), a bit of chocolate, 1 mandarine, 1 l water.

Gear: Lululemon top/jacket, waterproof Salomon jacket (carried in pack), waterproof overpants (put them on about half way), Speedcross 4 (larger size)

Location: Warburton VIC 3799

Map

Distance: 32.7 km

Elevation: 1,729 m

Duration: 5.5 hrs

How to get there

This is the route I took through Healesville. Click the More options link on the map to enlarge it.

 

 

Strava Activity

Feel free to study this activity.

Strava map

 

Elevation profile

 

Amenities

The toilets at Dom Dom Saddle are quite old, even eerie. There are picnic tables and quite nice ground.

For the original course (Dom Dom to Boobyalla Saddle) the 8022-4-N Juliet North, 1:25000 topographic map series from VicMap is the best. I bought the pdf map from Avenza maps for $2.65 (US1.99). Unfortunately my phone is cactus when it comes to GPS, so I couldn’t really make the most of this map being GPS, only while close to Dom Dom Saddle—few kms further stopped working, so I ended up using the portion of paper map McMahons Creek 8022-N VicMap which I’ve copied and highlighted the course on. This map is 1:50 000 and is not accurate. I have pointed out in my blog where there were the discrepancies.

Friendly advice

Here are some thoughts that might be useful before heading out on an adventure like this:

  1. Always check the weather, ask around a local or someone who’s been there a day before
  2. Carry enough food and water and take your charger and torch (just in case)
  3. Get the 8022-4-N Juliet North, 1:25 000 topographic map series from VicMap
  4. Carry a PLB, alternatively keep someone updated about your progress. Garmin has LiveTrack, Strava has Beacon. If you have a smart watch, these can work together very well wherever there is network coverage
  5. Take some good wound dressings with you (extras, too), very easy to fall and scratch yourself
  6. Wear something that covers your legs—those pesky grasses can really hurt
  7. Take your poles, they will help you both up and down.

Hope all this info has helped.

Mt Donna Buang warning sign

Mt Donna Buang – Boobyalla Saddle

18 July 2017

The plan
The plan

This was my plan for today (strava route to the right), with options to return earlier, should the tracks be unpassable. I knew it will be cold and I knew it will be wet, but I had to do it today, because the rest of the week was busy.

I am not going to lie, it was not all fun.

It was about 9.30 by the time I arrived in Warburton. There were clouds (or mist) at the top of the mountains, but I thought that’s OK, I can deal with that. Geared up, checked out the Visitor Centre for a more detailed map (bought the Yarra Valley – West Gippsland Adventure Map, even though I couldn’t really use it for this run, it’s not the right scale). They open at 10, but the lady let me in and helped me as much as she could. She never heard of Mt Boobyalla, which was a bit strange… I thought I’ve got my insurance—the pdf map I bought from Avenza yesterday, that should work.

Started running a few minutes before 10. The sign wasn’t holding any walking stick at the moment, there were a few on the ground, though. People must be using them! As soon as I did a few steps in the mud, I realised wearing the Speedcross wasn’t the best idea, even though it’s made for soft terrain, but mud…it only sticks to it, doens’t drain well and you quickly end up carrying another 800 g on each foot. OK, it’s extra workout, but today I didn’t need that. I paid attention and I didn’t fall on the ascent. Had some dark chocolate and ginger after about half an hour.

At the O’Shannassy Aqueduct this time there were even more animal footprints as last week. I was wondering, what it is. Could be deer??! I kept going, then got hungry again, so I had a VFuel gel, the Cool Citrus. This gave me a boost in spite of the mud that weighed me down. Today, I decided to go across Mt Donna Buang Rd as fast as I can to try and avoid the GPS anomaly I scored last Tuesday. It actually worked.

I got very close to a flock of yellow tail black coockatoos. Love those birds—they are so majestic! Could also hear lyrebirds nearby. At about 446 m, the wind picked up. Note to self: bring the beanie! There is a cable running along the left hand side of the track (if facing North), I guess is there for support. I took a picture of it, although it’s not that clear.

Single tkStopped for a few photos on the way up. One point was on Mt Victoria at the telecom tower. When you approach it, from afar it looks like the trail veers to the right, whereas the track goes straight as the sign shows. There was so much mud!!! This time it was deeper and wetter, there was no way around it. Had to step into the above the ankle mud on several occasions. I kinda enjoyed the sloshing sound, though.

I was hungry again, had a quarter sandwich with grape tomatoes. Couldn’t really enjoy it, as I was trying to breathe and deal with a runny nose at the same time…I am cursed, every time is cold, my nose is runny. Have to carry a ton of tissues with me. By the time I get to use the end of them, they are already wet from the rain.

I imagined what the view from the lookout would be now. The forest was spooky. Love that single trail before reaching Mt Donna Buang, it’s so beautiful. This time it was very spooky.

When I got to the top, I headed to the lookout. A car was approaching, so I stopped to give way. The driver decided to park (no signaling or something) and let me stand there a little bit in the rain. Not nice… I marched up the stairs. They are good, warms you up quickly if you are taking it faster. Up there, I’ve put the poles so they don’t fall, then tried to take some pictures and figure out where exactly the Mt Boobyalla track is. All I could see was the track and a sign that had the walking track picturegram on it. My fingers cooled down very fast. It was misty, and very, very windy. Chilly windy! Couldn’t wait to head down.

Spooky
Spooky

I tried to find the track on the pdf map. The phone (an old Samsung S5 inherited from my daughter) showed me the GPS finger. First it asked me to re-calibrate the compass, then just told me “not on the map” the GPS signal was not strong enough. I took the track I saw from up there. If it’s not it, I’ll just turn back. Aha, but it was a nice downhill…I was thinking, it will be interesting coming back, but went ahead anyway. First I thought—considering the rain—I’ll just go to the next intersection, do a couple of more kms (it can’t hurt, right?!), but the track was so beautiful and so much fun running, that I just kept going. In about 400 m, I saw the sign “Warning do not go past this point in winter Rough track to Cement Creek only passage in summer”. Well… I just had to check it out. Only to Cement Ck. If I can’t cross it, so be it, I’ll come back. But I need to try and there were signs all the way.

Sweet single trails, only those grasses and the bushes made it hurtful, but that’s my bad—should’ve worn the overpants. No point carrying them in the pack. But at that point I couldn’t be bothered. Turned right at Road 2, then right again towards Boobyalla Saddle (there was no sign, just the track). I reached a muddy area, with some wood pieces nicely placed over. I figured this should be it—Cement Creek. I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, but headed across those stupid wet wood. After two steps, I fell on my bumback pronto!! Hit my left elbow and surely smashed the mandarine and yes, the tomato as well!

Stood up (good to carry those poles, I can push myself up quicker), did some damage control. I could move my limbs OK, so I kept running. Taking it too slow wasn’t an option—these guys weren’t kidding about the showers—they came down with no mercy. And let’s not forget the chilly wind!! I passed Mt Boobyalla and didn’t even notice the cairn. Must have concentrated badly on the rocks, the Speedcross is not a good friend of wet rocks. Then there was that steep downhill before reaching Road 4. Wet, lots of branches to slip/trip on.

Pdf map Boobyalla Saddle
Pdf map Boobyalla Saddle

When I got to Road 4, I pulled out the phone again (it was all wet, wasn’t sure if it’s going to function for too long), tried to establish how far I can go. I already had nearly 13 kms on my Fenix. I knew I need to turn left here, so I did and then I saw two hikers. They seemed very surprised to see a woman there, I guess. I asked them about the road beyond the turnoff towards Mt Dom Dom.

The younger one (about my age, which is not that young) pulled out the Rooftop map, told him that won’t help. He checked anyway, then agreed. Then he pulled out the McMahons VicMap, the more detailed one 1:25 000. That was a bit better, but still didn’t show the road I was supposed to continue on. I’ve showed him my pdf map and told him what I have planned to do. He said that it’s too long, I’d be there all day. Told him  that’s only 10 kms, that shouldn’t take longer than 1.30-2.00 hours. Then he asked me if I was a trail runner. I thought: doh!! I’ve got a light pack and the trail running gear. Told them I couldn’t run if I carried their pack. He said that they saw the road and a sign that says no entry, but if I ignored the sign, I should be OK. Boobyalla Saddle is about half a km away. We wished all the best and parted.

The no-no sign
The no-no sign

Headed down towards Boobyalla Saddle and the tabu road. When I got there, I saw the sign! It said clearly “Unauthorised entry prohibited”! I started on it, then stopped. I saw tyre marks and thought that car could be heading back any time. And then I’ll be in trouble. The map showed only a short section in the map reference (restricted) area, so with a short bush bashing it could be avoided alltogether. But today I wasn’t prepared to do any bushbashing. I was wet, I was tired and I thought of going back up Mt Donna Buang and then down to Warburton in the rain…so I turned back.

I realised I was hungry, had to have something, so I pulled out the other sandwich, again dealing with eating, the gloves, the poles and the runny nose. I stepped on a piece of a branch that hit back. Exactly where I cut my leg on the rocks in the Cathedral Ranges. Cursed a few times, the shin wasn’t happy. I got to the trail head and thought I’d try to take a proper picture while I am finishing eating. The phone was hard to work. It was wet and the touch screen didn’t work properly. I took a photo anyway, then wanted to get going when I realised I am missing a pole.

So I headed back to Boobyalla Saddle, it had to be on that half km portion. Well I ran back, couldn’t see it, went a few meters further on the prohibited portion just to make sure I didn’t miss them, then turned around and headed up the hill again, wondering shouldn’t I go ahead on the that road…it’s only a little portion that is prohibited, at least according to that map. Nope, I don’t want to get into trouble and I need that pole anyway. I was wondering how could I miss a yellow-green piece of something. About half way I found it, it was on the right side of the road. Picked it up and continued, dreading that steep climb I came down on.

Mt Boobyalla
Mt Boobyalla

There were 15.7 kms on my Fenix here. I thought I’ll do around 30 today. Put my head down and started climbing. It was very slippery and those showers…The bushes kept scratching my legs, now it really hurt. Got up to Mt Boobyalla, looked around and saw the cairn. Nearly passed it again. Turned around, took a few pics, then walked through the puddles to the cairn. Took a couple more shots and a selfie, but had to get going, as it was really wet and windy, the body cooled down very quickly.

When I arrived to Cement Creek, I went the other way, into the mud, keeping a safe distance from the wet wood I fell on my way out. I wish the weather gods would’ve been kinder, this is such a beautiful place, would’ve loved to really enjoy it. Then the showers turned into icy ones, with seasalt like flakes hitting everything, piercing the skin. My fingers were so cold, couldn’t feel them. The gloves got wet, cold and heavy, but I left them on.

The single track to Mt Donna BuangAfter the short Road 2 section, it was time to climb back up to Mt Donna Buang. I stopped at the trail head to take a picture of the sign and thought I’d better check my legs, something doesn’t feel kosher. Well, I collected a few leeches around my ankle—not happy Jan! Damn!! Forgot to bring the salt!! I knew I had to let them feed until they are full and fall off, but that was a long way, they were still skinny.

This checking the leeches has taken up a lot of time—I stopped quite often to have a look. Had the other VFuel (Maple bacon), the body needed it. I was hoping I’ll catch up with the hikers, but they were obviously back at the Mt Donna Buang car park by then. I have probably passed their car when I walked across the car park. Quite a few people there, which was strange in these conditions. At this point I couldn’t wait to be back in the car heading home.

Parts of the descent to Mt Donna Buang Road were fun, others were really hurting (the knee high ferns), then others were above the ankle thick mud. I had the second mandarine here, it was a bit smashed from the bum fall, but still tasty. The forest road from Mt Victoria to the sealed road was an easy downhill. I promptly crossed the road got into the lovely  rolling part. Wanted to make the most of it because soon will come the mud fun. My face got slapped by wet ferns so many times on this downhill, just couldn’t care counting. Checked the leeches, one fell off but the others were still feeding.

Then came the mud slide. Last Tuesday I enjoyed this part much more than now, today it felt way softer and more dangerous. I was so happy I only fell once on my way out (at Cement Ck), but coming down is a different beast. Landed on my bum 3 times and had 5 near misses, when I slipped, but kept the bum off the ground. These were the times my gloves and poles got very muddy.

When running along the barbed fence I noticed how beautiful the sun shines onto Mt Bride and there was a rainbow! Stopped to take a pic, had to fiddle with the phone, it was all wet and the touchscreen wasn’t working properly. Martyr Rd was wet and slippery. As I was passing the golf course, a little dog came barking, then I saw its owner, an elderly lady. She asked me if it was wet. I guess the way I looked totally warranted the question. Told her that yes, it was wet, windy and icy up there. She seemed impressed.

Got back to the car, took off the the gear, spoke to Otto (he wanted to know if I was OK, and how long before I get home), told him about 1.15, as I want to wash the mud off my legs in the creek. Walked down to the creek and took off the socks that were now completely black. I must have ripped off a few leeches with this move, but there was another one, insisting on feeding. Had to rip it off, even though I knew I’ll pay for this.

All up it was worth it. Sometimes I need to do this crazy things to feel alive and test myself. The beautiful dinner that was waiting for me with a tall glass of Nut Brown Beer has topped the day!!

Food: two quarter sandwiches with butter, cheese and home made smoked sauseges (made by Doru, Nelu’s brother) and 4 grape tomatoes each; two VFuel gels (Cool citrus and Maple bacon), two mandarines, dark chocolate with crystalised ginger (only had a piece each)

Gear: the usual wet gear, except for the long johns. Need to take the waterproof gloves next time. I wore the thermal top underneath the thicker Salomon jacket all the way and there was still times when it felt cold.

Check out the full gallery here