Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sugarloaf Reservoir Circuit - 2nd March 2014

Sugarloaf Reservoir Circuit - 2nd March 2014

 I looked out the window this morning, hoping to see a little of the rain that was forecast for today, and yes, it was cloudy, but there wasn't a drop of rain in sight. OK, might be a nice day for a bit of bush walking anyway, so it's time to fill the Source water bladder (3 litres) and jam it into the backpack, grab some nut bars, trail mix and a couple of Freddo Frogs I nicked from the fridge and a thin rain jacket (just in case) and head off!
It's not a long drive from home out to Christmas Hills to Sugarloaf Reservoir, so that's my choice for this hike. The GPS is already in my pack, as is a small first-aid kit, so once I pull into the car park, I'm all set to go. This time I remember to reset the GPS and clear the last hike out of memory (forgot last time, and didn't get an accurate time and distance for the hike... bugger! I'm sure it's not 32km around here...). I also set an app on my phone to record the hike so that I can upload it, but more on this later...
I have parked at the Ridge Park picnic ground, on the North-West side of the dam. There are a couple of rotundas here, and gas BBQs, with a toilet block, and although it looks a bit brown and dry at the moment, it's a great place to come for a picnic or BBQ with the family and/or friends.
I walk out of the car park onto the track (I'm walking around anti-clockwise this time, just for a change) and within about 50 metres, I run into this little chap, wandering across the trail:
Glad I didn't step on this little bloke!
It's been quite a long while since I have come across an echidna in the wild, so I stopped for a while and watched him slowly look around to see if it was safe, then waddle off, stopping every now and then to stick his long tongue down an ant hole. Lovely little things...
I wander on and cross the dam wall on the South-West side, heading towards the pump house and Winneke water treatment station:
Crossing the Dam Wall
I cross another wall, and pass the Saddle Dam picnic area on the left, another super spot to picnic, and a very scenic spot in the cooler months after a bit of rain, when everything greens up (pretty brown and drab now). The whole area is covered in grass (looks like a manicured lawn!) with beaut trees scattered through it, fantastic! There are toilets here, a large sheltered area with numerous picnic tables, and plenty of parking.
Saddle Dam picnic area

Just past this I hook up with the Chris Phillips track and follow this around the reservoir. The track pretty much follows the waterline in most spots, with a few loops cut off here and there. Track markers are either bright orange posts or orange triangles nailed to trees at regular intervals, and overall the trail is very easy to follow. The water level is lower this visit, probably having dropped between 4-5 metres down the slope of the bank since my last visit around 6 weeks ago, depending upon the steepness of the bank. As I walk further, I come across a sluice gate, not sure if it is still functional, looks like it may no longer be connected to the operating ram above it.

Sluice Gate.

Gate from other side of pond
 The scenery changes several times throughout the hike, with different vegetation popping into view, some of it changing drastically as you walk into different parts of the track. It's almost like stepping into a different world. Trees scattered in one area, thick bush in another, ferns in a different spot, it's real variety! In a couple of spots, the track markers are a little harder to spot, and it's easy to loose the track, but if you keep following the water line, you will pick up a marker further along and be back on track.
About half way there now...
 There is a fairly steep climb that seems to stretch for quite a while (especially after the fairly flat undulating track so far). I snake my way up the hill, then the track opens out into a large grassy area, part of which appears to be a vehicle access track, then all of a sudden, up pops a dunny! Well, it didn't fly up out of the ground, it was just standing there, but you know what I mean...

You can smell it before you see it!
 This is not a flash loo, but a simple drop toilet (basically a pit with a couple of seats built over it), and yes, it does pong a bit, more so in the warmer months. But at least it's there, and if you have been keeping yourself hydrated correctly, you may have to use it. The few times I have been past it there has been a generous supply of paper on hand too, even after some dipstick pulled paper off the roll and scattered it everywhere. Why people do this is beyond me. What sort of thrill would someone get from pulling TP off a roll? You would hope it was kids fooling around, but if so, where were their parents and why weren't they giving them a good roost? Oh well, I cleaned up what I could and bunged it down the hole, no good letting some clown ruin the place for everyone else...
The view over the (mainly dead) ferns from Dunny Hill.

Whilst we are on the subject of litter, there wasn't much to be seen on this hike. There were a couple of spots here and there where people had stopped for a drink and dropped soft drink bottles, and one spot where it looked like someone had been fishing and left some junk. I usually pick up what I can and dispose of it, as if it's just left there, it tends to build up. And litter just looks bad out in the bush. I hike to check out nature. If I wanted to look at rubbish, I would go hiking at the local tip!

 Just down the track from the toilets, I find another friend, and stop for a chat...
Another spiky pal wandering along hunting for lunch...

The next pic demonstrates why I would think twice about pitching camp anywhere near any decent sized trees. Gums can drop limbs at any time, and quite often it is on a calm, still day (usually after a spell of hot weather, or sometimes after a couple of very windy days). I have been camping up the Murray River, and on a hot, calm day you can hear branches breaking all through the day. They sound like rifle shots across the water, and have flattened quite a few camps (and campers) over the years. Be careful!

Wouldn't like to be under that one when it dropped!
A bit further on is a lovely old pine tree that had scattered pine cones all over the place, quite a beaut spot to stop for a quick drink in the shade (they don't drop limbs anywhere near as readily as gums, but still, be careful). Not far to go now, keep plodding along!

Pine Cone Alley
After a few more turns and over a few more hills, I travel past the Yacht Club. There are boats everywhere, mostly under tarps, and there are usually a few out on the water.
Yacht Club boat-park (well, it's not a car park!)

Nearly there now, keep going!
After a bit more tramping, the track turns and joins onto a vehicle track running up along the fence line, and dumps me out back at the car park at Ridge Park, right where we started from. The GPS tells me that I have covered 16Km, and it has taken me about 3hrs 15min. Not bad, considering I stopped plenty of times for photos, watched a couple of echidnas poke around for a while, and had a couple of drink and snack stops along the way. The app on my phone failed to record my trek, so I won't use that one again, as I think it stopped logging when I locked my phone and turned the screen off. Will go back to the trusted Runtastic Pro I have been using previously with nary a hitch, and it barely sips at the battery. 

I can smell snags cooking, someone is having a BBQ and it smells great! Boy, am I hungry now. I will just wander over to the car, sit in the shade, and munch on a nice, healthy Nut Bar and drink my water. Where is the nearest take-away shop!! ;-)


No comments:

Post a Comment