Around Kosciuszko In A Day

MOVING TIME: 15hr 10min
AVG SPEED: 21km/h
ELEVATION: ~6,800m

The alarm goes off at 1:20am, but I am already awake, trying to decipher what kind of illicit substances I must have digested when I agreed to spend the weekend with 3 Ultra Marathon Runners. Ultra Runners carry a reputation for being some of the fittest and most determined people on the planet and I had agreed to attempt the “Around The K in a Day” loop with them. But so had Flash. I guess at least we had each other…

After eating as many weet-bix as I could and making a final call on clothing (given moderate temperatures outside), Flash, Norman and I set off down the steps of the Dulmison Lodge. With my Ay-Up lights on my helmet, I acted as the spotter for a wide array of wild animals on the road down to Jindabyne. Skippy, Bambi, The Fantastic Mr Fox, Bugs Bunny and Wally the Wombat were all out in force, threatening to make a mad dash across the road in front of us. In some cases the threats turned into action, followed by hurried squeals of “WOMBAT LEFT” or “ROO UP” and the rather urgent application of brakes.  

After some quick abuse from the camp site near Lake Jindabyne, we commenced the relatively short climb out of Jindy (in the dark you can’t see how steep the road is). Not long after, we pulled into Berridale, discussed the cricket with the spiders in the toilets and refilled water. Still dark, we slung a left hand turn and headed out towards Lake Eucumbene and Adaminaby (renamed “Admin’s Bilby”). The sun rising over the hills behind us was marvelous – orange, pink and red filled the skies, grazing livestock were scattered across the fields and a rainbow glistened ahead.

Pulling into a service station at Adaminaby, we were serviced by a very bored looking man behind the counter. I broke the tap outside, which he then fixed. Then Norman broke the tap again. After consuming some food and speculating that perhaps if he was bored he could clean the feral bathrooms, we left the land of the Giant Trout. As soon as we rode over the crest we were hit with the first headwind of the day. Progress slowed somewhat, but this gave us greater opportunity to revel in our surroundings. I only wish I could better describe the look on the faces of cows as we rode past – jumping bolt upright, still with grass out the side of their mouths, staring at us in complete and utter (udder?) disbelief. Then a younger one would make a run for it – triggering the whole heard to make a run for it. Luckily never in our direction.

After another left turn (how exciting!), we started to pick up more speed, entering the National Park en route to Cabramurra (renamed “Cabramatta-Turramurra”). The lines on the road turned orange and the gradient started to climb. Overhead the clouds started to get thicker and a mist appeared in the distance. We were in Alpine territory now – minimal signs of wildlife, grassy terrain lacking trees and cobblestone creeks and clear as you could imagine. And then came the rain. Damp and cold, we rolled into Cabramurra, leaving little puddles under the table in the Snowy Hydro Museum / General Store. Flash and I were slamming down pies while Norman was testing the patience of the clerk, pacing around (to keep warm) looking like she was about to rob the joint. We left to the gentle calming words of “it’s all downhill to Khancoban from here”…

WELL THAT WAS A LIE. It’s downhill to Tumut Pond Reservoir and then VERY UPHILL for a good distance. Not wanting to believe the hill could possibly be that big, I attacked the first section, turning the corner to find a whole lot more uphill. Yellow signs with little cars driving up triangles uphill. After what seemed like forever, we rolled over the top to find PD, Mrs Flash and the car. DRY RAPHA MERINO SOCKS FOR ME! A quick refuel and we continued down to Khancoban. My spirits were lifted (my anger at the lies had turned into despair given the fatigue in my legs) when we came across three wild horses (Mum and two foals) who ran alongside us before crossing not 20m in front of us. Amazing. This point in the ride also signified the commencement of the Marsh Fly attack. Not as bad as we had expected, but their bites are seriously not amazing.

Marcus and Andrew, the other 2 Ultra Crazies, had left Thredbo at 5, keen to chase us down. Norman, keen to not be caught, demanded the Khancoban stop was to be water only. I snuck in some more food, managed to spray Aeroguard in my face and followed her and Flash down the road. At this stage I am seriously getting tired. My knee is really starting to ache. A sharp pain is developing behind my knee, possibly due to my calf and hamstring turning into concrete under my skin. If I can just get to Tom Groggin (the bottom of Dead Horse Gap), I’ll be right. I commenced the second last climb out of Khancoban, knowing that once I hit the lookout, it will flatten out. Alas there are two lookouts, so I spent a good 5km thinking “this HAS to be the last corner” after passing a small stop which overlooks some of the Snowy Hydro infrastructure.

Finally I climb up the final rise to see Flash on the ground, no shoes, with his wife pouring Coke into his mouth. It looked worse than it was (although by this stage he had some pretty bad hot-foot) and after some amazing waffle like biscuits from Laura, we commenced the descent and the “undulations” together. I had in my head they were like Bobbin Heads – not as bad but certainly not flat! We rolled into Tom Groggin, where we were caught by the two boys. Norman was nowhere to be seen, which had them on their bikes and off again in a vain attempt to catch her. Ipod in ear Chippo style, I commenced up the final hill. Dead Horse Gap is over 15km and 1000+ vertical meters and we already had 300km in our legs. I’m tired, I’m hurting – in fact, I want to cut my right leg off. I’m mentally drained, but I came this far and I’m not going to quit.

I made Leather Barrel creek. Then I made the Orange Snow poles (and gave one a high five). PD flies past in the car telling me I have about 1.5km’s to the top. I’m dancing out of the saddle, with Flash just up ahead. FINALLY the clearing appears and WE ARE UP. After a quick high five, we fly down the hill to Thredbo, only stopping to give an Echidna right of way.

What a day. It hurt like hell and I loved it.

Leave a Reply