Friday, December 13, 2013

White Rock Peak Walk

Today was the one day a week when I didn't have to either dash off to the gym or the bouldering wall first thing in the morning. Of course, I don't really HAVE to dash off anywhere if I don't want to. I could lie in bed until noon, then stagger out, eat a load of gluten and surf the net the rest of the day, but that would be no kind of life and wouldn't get me any closer to reaching my goals. To get strong and to climb better, I gotta get up early and get out before the midday heat of a Cairns summer sweats all the liquid out of me and I turn into a human prune, so that is what I do six days a week. 

I like to have one day (at least) a week when I go for a nice hike somewhere, but I had trouble deciding where to go this time. There is no shortage of tracks I haven't done, but, I seem to have done most, (maybe all?) the ones that are within easy cycling distance. I did the same thing with peak bagging when we lived in Nelson. I quickly ticked off all the peaks that were within a short driving distance and then was left with long drives to do new peaks. After spending some considerable time calculating how long it would take me to cycle to various walks I ended up just picking the first walk that I hadn't done on a list I made when we first moved into Cairns. 

Cairns from the bluff

The track to White Rock Peak isn't very long, only about 4 km return and, after much deliberation I decided to take the lazy cowards way out and drive to the track head not cycle. The narrow, windy road with no verge justifies my cowardliness while my laziness is explained by the 1.5 to 2 hours it would take me to cycle to the track head, which, unless I left at 4 am, would have me walking in a hot part of the day and today was supposed to be a quasi-rest day. 

For some reason, although this track has “official” orange triangle track markers, there is no other signage so you need to know to start on a gated side road road 9.7 km up the Lake Morris Road. Luckily, I knew this. I shimmied through the gate and followed the old road up a switchback to a fenced utility building which can be skirted on the south. Beyond the building, a pretty good track marked with orange trail markers leads slightly downhill along a ridge to White Rock Peak – 30 metres lower than Mount Sheridan where the utility building is located. The further you get along this track the narrower it becomes, but, compared to lots of other tracks, it's actually pretty good the whole way, although the final section before White Rock Peak (no view on either named peak) gets a bit dense with wait-a-while on either side of the track. 

Walshs Pyramid from the bluff
I have not done this walk yet, but I'll have to drive to the start

At at trig station (which marks the top of White Rock Peak), a steep slippery track descends about 50 metres to a broken rock bluff where you get good views over Cairns and the farmlands and forests to the south. I had to snap off a few pictures without really framing them in any way as my camera has developed the annoying habit of shutting itself down seconds after I turn it on regardless of the state of the battery. 

There appears to be an illusion of a track that continues descending from the bluff, and, if you could walk down this way, you would come out in suburban Cairns. I found one reference, from early 2012 which mentioned a proposal to complete such a track, but it appears that the actual track work was never done. I walked a short way down the “illusory” track and it was very steep, slippery and soon became virtually non-existent. I guess you could bush-whack down, but it would probably be pretty ugly.

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