K2K in a Day!

An annual feature on the Sydney Bush Walkers calendar is K2K in a Day. For those not in the know that is walking from Kanangra to Katoomba (well to the locked gate on Narrow Neck) in a day. The goal is to make it in 12 hours. Total distance 45km, but more significant is the amount of up and down, +1410/-1470 (just counting the big climbs but with plenty more undulation). I had hoped to do the K2K last year, following my successful Six Foot Track in Day, but the weather didn’t play ball and the Coxs River was up way too high to contemplate a crossing so the trip was cancelled.

K2K elevation profile

K2K elevation profile

 

This year I hadn’t seriously considered doing it as, firstly, I didn’t think I was fit enough, and secondly, up until 2 days before I had other commitments. When the other commitments fell through I fired an email off to Alex half-expecting to be knocked-back (for both logistics and fitness reasons). Except I wasn’t! So next thing I knew I was setting up my tent at Boyd River Campsite on Friday night. As usual it was freezing at Boyd River but I have learnt by now and had 2 sleeping bags and consequently a good nights sleep. Some of the others were not so fortunate.

Having successfully negotiated an extra 10 minutes sleep my alarm didn’t go off until 4:40am. At 5:25am we left Boyd River. A special thanks to Anna and John who not only drove us round to Kanangra the night before but also got to get up in the early hours to drop us at the Walls. After our briefing at the Walls Carpark there was momentary panic when Alex couldn’t find his pack… we were contemplating having to drive back to Boyd River when… it turned up on the other side of the car. Phew. So after the mandatory photo we started – at 5:56am by my watch.

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The starters just before 6am – Naveen, Adrian, Alex, Rachel, Vivien

I’ve walked the section out to the Plateau many times but the experience of doing it as dawn was breaking was spectacular.

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Early morning Cloudmaker

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Stunning way to start the day

We reached the lookout on the plateau and Alex headed off towards the Coal Seam Cave track. Naveen and Adrian, who hadn’t been to Kanangra before, didn’t know any better and followed him. Vivien & I weren’t so keen on his direction. Which earned us a “come on!” from Alex. At which point Vivien asked him if we were going to Coal Seam Cave. A sheepish change of direction soon had us heading north towards Gordon Smith Path.

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Party with views across the mountains

The photo below is out of order, but about this point in the day I ‘corked’ my left thigh on a sawn off banksia. Being pretty cold it hurt a lot – but I was quite impressed to see how the bruising developed through out the day. This is the bruise about 12 hours after it happened.

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Bruise from walking into a sawn off banksia on the plateau about half an hour in

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Alex cuts a lonely figure at Gabes Gap

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Cloudmaker and it’s only 8:45am!

We made good time getting to and departing Mt Cloudmaker before Alex’s guidance time of 9am.

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Alex dutifully marking down our time (9:20am) at Dex Creek

No one needed water at Dex Creek so we were soon onto “day 2″ of the 3-day route. It was 10 years since the only other time I’d done K2K (that time over 3 days). Some sections I’ve walked plenty of times, but the section from Dex Creek to Mt Yellow Dog I’ve only done the once. It was lovely to walk the ridges on a perfect bushwalking weather day.

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Naveen scrambling on the way to Mt Strongleg

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Vivien sidling

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Adrian starting the steep descent down Strongleg

The steep descent down Strongleg spat us out into someone’s campsite on Kanangra Creek. We had wondered whether there would be running water but no need for concern as it was flowing strongly. After a quick water refill we were off again, soon realising we’d hit Kanangra Creek a fair way above the junction which is probably why it was flowing! On the plus side Alex said it was the gentlest descent he’d ever had off Strongleg.

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Making our way down Kanangra Creek

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Kanangra Creek a lot drier closer to the Coxs. Mt Yellow Dog looms above us

The Coxs River was about shin height for me. The Kelpie Point Gauge said 0.12 – much safer than the 0.6 it was at this time last year!

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I thought there were no breaks on this trip Alex?

Now we had the biggest climb of the of the day up Yellow Pup Ridge to Mt Yellow Dog (150m to 780m). It’s a pleasant (?) enough climb as there are a number of switchbacks meaning the legs get a bit of a break from the constant ascent. I was pretty happy to get to the top at 1:05pm (exactly an hour after I’d started) and get into some food.

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Mt Yellow Dog, it’s 1:05pm and I’m hungry!

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Adrian taking a nap

When Alex & Naveen arrived at the top we agreed it was time to let us run free. The group would split to allow everyone to move at whatever speed we wanted. Adrian, Vivien and I set off hoping to make up the half hour we were currently behind based on the 12 hour target schedule.

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Alex dismantling the “inappropriately sized” cairn

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We might have been faster if we didn’t stop to photograph the wildlife

Of course the 12 hour cut-off wasn’t the only priority. We saw a bit of wildlife which we stopped to photograph.

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Apparently we’ve done 39km already (I don’t think so)

The signage on the Medlow Gap firetrail claimed it was 39km to Kanangra. That should mean we only had 6km to go, sadly we knew that wasn’t the case – it was more like 17km… so on we pushed.

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Medlow Gap at 3:15pm. Will we make it in 12 hours?

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Like I said… maybe we would have been faster if we didn’t stop to photograph the wildlife!

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Vivien on the last major climb up Mt Debert

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Vivien on Tarros Ladders

As we started climbing Tarros Ladders I heard voices at the top. I could see faces staring down at me. I was about to yell up for them to wait for us to get up before they descended when I realised it was our support crew. Paul and others had kindly carried out water and snacks for us to the end of Narrow Neck. It was a this point we found out from Paul (who Alex had been in phone contact with) that Naveen had started vomiting not long after we’d left and so him & Alex were heading to Carlons Farm rather than continuing to Narrow Neck.

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Adrian on Tarros Ladders

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Beautiful views to Lake Burragorang

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What’s in the snack stash?

Vivien and I got to the top just before 4pm. I didn’t actually need any water or snacks, still having plenty in my bag, but I drank some Gatorade and ate a chocolate digestive out of guilt for the effort the support crew had put in. I could see in other years though this would be a crucial replenishment. You couldn’t ask for better weather than the day we’d had – it was sunny but not too hot to need to drink that much. Shortly after 4pm I started the fire trail bash. The sign said 9.5km, which was inconsistent with the signage we’d seen at the bottom of Mt Debert. It didn’t really matter though the main thing in my mind was to get to the locked gate by 6pm.. well 5:56pm on my watch.

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Narrow Neck walking with the sun setting

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Vivien running the downhills

And so it was we made it the locked gate at 5:39pm. We were pleased to see Anna waiting for us – a massive effort from her this weekend as well – driving us to Kanangra Friday night, then up early to drop us at the Walls, before hanging out on Narrow Neck waiting for to finish, then driving some of the walkers home after dinner.

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3 finishers

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Started 05:56 – Finished 17:39. Total time 11 hours 45 minutes

We reconvened at the Grand View Hotel in Wentworth Falls for dinner. Paul, Alex & Naveen joined us about 7:15pm, Naveen fortunately feeling better. Most people headed home about 8pm.

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Dinner at the Grand View – Anna (Support), Vivien (Walker), Tom (Fan boy), Lyonel (Support), Jane (Support), Geoff (Support), Adrian (Walker)

Tom and I had decided to stay the night which meant there was plenty of time for dessert. Yum, a great way to end an excellent day.

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I think I deserved this!