In the lead up to Christmas would you rather be in the bush or fighting for a car park at your local shopping centre? I couldn’t spare the time for an overnight walk so I squeezed a 2 day walk into a day trip. And as an experiment into the merit of a low carb diet for endurance activities I did this 37km walk with no food (more details at the bottom of the post).
To do this walk without a car shuffle I needed a partner in crime and my hippie mate Alex signed up for the challenge. So we met at Yarra Junction at the crack of dawn where he gave me the low down on how to drive an old Kombi van.
Too easy I said as my thoughts turned to the 60’s, Jimi Hendrix and free love……until I stalled the van coming out of the car park and then flooded it trying to re-start it while I blocked the highway. Fortunately Alex spotted my troubles and came back to help me get the baby spew-coloured beast going again.
Take 2. Alex drove my car to the start of the walk at Big Pat’s Creek and I nursed the van to Powelltown at 80km/h for fear of something bad happening to his precious piece of motoring history.
The DEPI walk notes (see link at bottom of post) recommend starting the walk at Big Pat’s Creek and finishing at Powelltown – presumably so you can re-hydrate with a couple of cold beers at the Powelly Pub. But there wasn’t much going on at 6am.
In an effort to avoid walking along the highway for the first section I went through the Powelltown backstreets but I must have made a wrong turn and ended up having to sneak through someone’s backyard to get back to the highway. My detour also required me to climb through some leach infested bushes which is was a bit annoying as I hadn’t even got the start of the trail yet.
The trail follows the old timber tramway route and makes for interesting, scenic and mostly flat walking.
By the time I had mate it to the High Lead carpark I had removed several leaches including a pair of nasty pricks that conducted a simultaneous attack on both sides of my neck. And then my eye started getting irritated and I thought I could feel something moving under my eyelid. But what can you do when you are feeling paranoid and all alone in the bush? Take an eyeball selfie of course!
I couldn’t spot anything leachy looking and there was no blood so I hoped the salt from tears flush the little guy out. My eye returned to normal shortly afterwards and I decided I was just going a bit crazy.
The High Lead Incline is a highlight of the walk and climbs about 400 vertical metres on a wide, well maintained track of moderate gradient. If you are walking down this section in the wet I expect some walking poles would be handy.
After about 15km I crossed paths with Alex at the top of the High Lead Incline so we swapped car keys and I had my first sip of water (I normally drink a lot of water so I was curious to see how long I could go without drinking) before we both continued in opposite directions.
Shortly afterwards I reached the Ada No. 2 Mill site. There is a decent campsite there and some interesting old stuff to check out.
Old thing near “The Crossroads”
It wasn’t a race but I knew Alex would beat me to the finish as he is a faster walker – so I did a short side trip to the New Ada Mill site so I had an excuse for my later return. I planned to tell Alex how great it was and how he really missed out by skipping the side trip – but all I found was this busted sign. I admit my search for the mill wasn’t exhaustive – but I didn’t see anything at all. So either I am an idiot or the old mill equipment is now at Cash Converters?
There is another side trip to the Ada Tree which may be of interest if you haven’t already been there (it is also accessible by car). But I headed back to The Crossroads and continued on the main trail towards Starlings Gap.
The photo above really doesn’t capture this but there was a giant tree growing on top of a massive rock and the roots wrapped around the rock like fingers on a donut (I was starting to think about food by now).
The Walk Notes say the trip is “Very steep and difficult” and “Rough track, many obstacles” but 90% of the walk looks like this. You could probably take your baby stroller most of the way if you wanted.
I saw about a dozen people including some campers around the Starlings Gap area, but apart from that Alex and I had the whole trail to ourselves.
There wasn’t too much more to see apart from a couple of old sawdust mounds that were so lame I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo.
After nearly 10 hours, my walk into history concluded along this nice creek where I found my car at the Big Pat’s Creek Recreation Area.
Walk stats: 37km including side trip. Average speed 4.1km/h including breaks.
For more info on the walk, a map of the route and some historical stuff check out:
No food experiment
I have been low carbing for 2 years now and have read many books, websites and blogs on the science behind low carb diets including the claimed performance benefits for endurance activities. But everyone’s body is different and you can’t believe everything you read (especially in blogs) so I did a little experiment to see for myself.
I decided to do this walk without having any food. I had dinner the previous evening as usual but when I got up I had no breakfast and didn’t eat for the whole trip and I felt just fine. My energy levels seemed constant throughout the day and I didn’t have any concentration or brain issues. I didn’t even feel hungry for the whole trip although at about 1pm I would have happily eaten a pair of fillet mignons.
Although it started out cool in the morning, it turned into a pretty warm day so I ended up drinking about 2.5 litres of water and had a handful of salt tablets (I am sure some doctors will want to punch me in the nuts for saying this – but salt is great stuff. Get it into you!)
I am not trying to compare my relatively easy day walk with serious athletic activities like doing an Ironman or running a marathon, but a low carb diet seems well suited for the long duration, low-moderate intensity activities I normally undertake.
If I cast my mind back a few years to an overnight snowshoeing trip with some friends, where we all snacked on high carb treats almost constantly, I recall feeling quite flat and tired when the sugar rush would wear off. Leave a comment below if you have any experience (good or bad) with low carbing and your outdoor pursuits.
If you want some further information on low carb performance this is a good place to start: