The 30 days to overnight hiking challenge run by Caro Ryan of lotsafreshair.com asks us to step up the training to half day walks. Finding time has been tricky so I got up at dawn on Easter Monday and decided to explore the Berkeley firetrail in Berowra, NSW and add on a loop down to Sam’s creek, one of my favourite parts of the great north walk.
I set my alarm for 6am and almost snoozed my way out of a walk. So I forced myself up, knowing that if I didn’t I’d have nothing to report to the challenge’s Facebook page this week! What is that? Pride? Accountability? Determination? Or just plain stubbornness? Maybe I just enjoy sharing.
The trail started at Berkeley close and worked its way along the great north walk through to the amazing Naa Badu lookout. This spot is a highlight of the GNW and it was a treat to see it at dawn. There were two people camped alongside and we had a brief chat. Not sure that camping is actually permitted there but they had certainly picked a lovely spot!
Walking further along the trail I passed runners and dog walkers and liked that this was part of their morning routine, at least on weekends. It’s a great way to start and this challenge is helping me to include a walk into my routine.
Further along the trail the was a small path that lead to a set of power poles. The clearing made a great lookout and gave a perspective of the valley I had never seen before.
At the end of the trail I turned around and walked back to the entrance to Sam’s creek trail. It was not a signposted trail, more a bush trail. It was intensely satisfying almost bush bashing my way through the denser bits and climbing down rocks. For those parents familiar with “Teacup travels” you will know what happens next. Suddenly… the trail ran out!
There was a rather large drop in front of me and no clear way forward. I could see the trail further down and my map said I was in the right spot so I was a bit confused. I climbed back up a bit to try to find the lost trail. No luck. So down I went again only to find myself in the same spot. I started thinking about abandoning the descent. I also thought about clambering down and bashing my way through. I then noticed a faint line through the ferns to the right of me and realised I’d found the trail again. Very tricky!
I carried on down and found myself at a beautiful rock outcrop. I took some photos and descended once more but lost the trail yet again. This time climbing back up revealed the trail leading off to the right. I really regretted leaving my hiking poles at home but the natural hiking pole I had found was well up to the task of keeping me stable.
Soon enough I reached Sam’s creek. It was so peaceful. I just stood still and listened to the trickling water and the birds and felt fantastic!
I decided to explore the creek a bit, looking for a geocache that was meant to be here. The geocaching app seem to lead me to a spot where any option would be rather dangerous to pursue so I gave up even though I was nearly there! Whilst I was having another quiet moment two lyrebirds passed by, ripping the leaf litter apart. I tried to get a photo but it’s almost impossible- they blend in so well to the bush.
Feeling great, I started the climb out of Sam’s creek using the Great North Walk route. Such a hard climb. I passed some folks training for Oxfam trailwalker and I stepped aside to let them pass as I needed any excuse for a rest! Eventually I was back at the the top and started walking back along the firetrail. I popped in to the Naa Badu lookout again and it was lovely to see it with more light. The campers had left and had left no trace.
I emerged from the firetrail feeling fantastic and not too tired. Still, I couldn’t resist popping into a local cafe on the way home for a coffee and a piggy-fat croissant!
All up I walked 12.7km in 3.5hours. The Berkeley close to Sam’s creek loop would make a great short walk for local walking groups or anyone visiting the area wanting a short but challenging hike.