Point to Pinnacle: Fern Tree

Sunday 23 September (57 days to go)

Today’s plan was to walk to Fern Tree to see if I have any chance of completing the Point to Pinnacle in 57 days time . . . The official race guidelines say all competitors have to have passed the kunanyi turnoff by 9:40 am, which means you have two hours 40 minutes to get there from Wrest Point. By my calculations it’s about 10 km, which should be walkable in about two hours, leaving two hours 40 minutes to do the 11 km up the mountain.

That seems to be cutting it a bit fine, since the mountain is uphill all the way, so I think the goal to the turn off should be less than two hours to that point to give me longer to get up the mountain.

My first question before I set out was whether to take my raincoat or my camera because I couldn’t fit both in my new tiny walking backpack. The raincoat won because rain was forecast and I wasn’t going to do this walk to take photos. I can do that another day. It proved to be the right choice because it started raining not more than 20 minutes from home. Also, it’s bright red, giving me a better chance of being seen by manic car drivers along the more dodgy bits of the road.

The first stage of the walk was getting to Wrest Point, the start of the event. This is about seven km from my house and takes a bit over an hour. It’s not a challenging walk.

20180923 Wrest Point 4 edit copy
Home to Casino: 1:11:43 for 7.13 km.

That was just to get to the starting point.

Wrest Point to the Southern Outlet along Davey Street was 2.3 km and that took 23:09. That was a perfect pace, I think.

After that, the course begins to get more hilly as Davey Street becomes Huon Road. I was a bit worried about this stage because I hadn’t done much hill walking up to this point and I remember driving up it and thinking it would be hard work.

The first section was probably the hardest and I was wondering why I had signed up for this. I decided to look at the beautiful houses and make some plans to come back later and take some photos. There are some gorgeous places there that I never knew about. That made the walk slightly less painful.

After a bit of a climb, it became a lot gentler slope and easier walking. The main thing I was afraid of when I realised this wasn’t a hill that was going to kill me was the cars. You get to a point where the footpath ends and the speed limit goes up to 70km/h. I felt not the safest I’d ever felt and was glad of the red raincoat and the red backpack giving me, I hoped, a reasonable chance of being seen.

20180923 04 Wellington Park
Wellington Park

It wasn’t too bad of a walk and felt easier than some of the other hills I’ve walked. I don’t know if it was really flatter or if the bush air was making me feel more energised. There was intermittent rain and not rain, so again, grateful for the raincoat decision, but it didn’t get overly windy or cold. My feet did get wet and my new shoes are covered in mud.

Note to self: pack spare shoes, socks, a jacket, a beanie and another pair of walking pants into your gear bag for the event.

20180923 07 Fern Tree
Getting closer.

It’s not a walk I’m overly keen to repeat when the road’s open though. It’s not designed for pedestrians and there are parts where the shoulder is really narrow. A couple of times I walked on the wrong side of the road because there was hardly any gap between the road and the rockface, and my thinking was if there was a rogue car I’d have a better chance of living if I rolled down the hill on the other side than if I got crushed against the rockface. How cheerful.

Of course, that didn’t happen and I was mighty relieved to see the sign telling me the turnoff to kunanyi was only 100 metres away. Time to the turnoff: 2:51:40 from when I left home, 1:39:57 from the Casino, distance 16.71 km from home, 9.58 km from the Casino.

20180923 08 Turn off edit copy
Made it!

If I can hold that pace on event day, 1:40, that will leave me three hours to cover the 11.5 km to the top of the mountain. I’m starting to think it might be possible. When I got to the turnoff I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt like I could keep going but I had a commitment in town that involved someone coming to get me because of the woeful bus service and I wouldn’t have had enough time to walk back down again. So I walked for a few more minutes up the mountain road, dodging cars and, once it started raining, I decided I really didn’t want to be outside any more and headed for the pub with its log fire and coffee.

20180923 15 Dirty shoes copy
Poor new shoes

Total distance: 17.82km, total time 3:03:54.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

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