An afternoon walk with my son from Cowan to Berowra Heights
Well I had an enjoyable time on this walk…. my son… not so much!
After yet another morning watching the kids endlessly veg out to minecraft YouTube videos I was going stir crazy, so I decided to hit up a section of the Great North Walk I haven’t visited in a long time. To my surprise my 8 year old son decided to come along.
We were to walk from Cowan to Berowra Heights over two to three hours with the promise of a creek to splash in midway. It was muggy and hot with the threat of a storm in the evening.
I didn’t recognise the track once we were on it. The last time I had passed through was just after a hazard reduction burn and everything was black but strangely beautiful. The greenery had well and truly come back now though the tree trunks were still black. It was quite a pleasant walk with filtered views available. If I had been on my own I would have tromped along a few side trails or slightly bush bashed to get a better vantage point but the walk would be hard enough with the elevation changes so I made sure I kept us on the main track. Once we hit the ridge line the trees provided some sun cover but also many webs to clear as we walked. There were many flying bugs here which I could see were bothering my son. If they had ears they would still be ringing from the shriek he let out when a giant one landed on him! It was possibly a horse fly but he gathered himself together pretty quickly. We reached some exposed rocks with a view and a little pool of water so we took some time to rest and take in the view and chat.
We started our decent to the creek, past many gorgeous cliffs and rock shelters. We were getting quite puffed out as the humidity seemed to rise as we went lower down. We would have to do this climb up on the other side too so we were in for a sweaty time.
My son decided he needed to go to the bathroom so we had to find a spot off the trail to make a hole. I collected as much soft bark as I could find, which proved effective for his needs but I felt by the end of his session that I’d stripped the forest clean and was going to have to switch to rocks! All just a part of todays fun..
We reached the creek where we could wash hands and cool down a bit. I splashed my neck and face and said he could have a swim if he wanted. He declined, concerned about leeches. I told him not to worry. I was wrong of course!
From the creek, things started to turn bad for my son. First we discovered a leech on his sock, most likely from the creek. We tore the sock off before it reached his skin. I didn’t get a bite in but my son was still rattled. He looked like he’d seen a creature from a horror movie. After that there were a lot of huge dark blue coloured ants with enormous pincers that gave him a scare. As he stepped over them they would turn and track him as though ready to strike! I found them fascinating but he couldn’t share that view. Just as he’d recovered from one he would be confronted with another! See the picture below it is quite a horror story of a creature and I wouldn’t want to get bitten!
I’m not in my fittest state right now so it was hard to do the 300m climb (~1000ft) at the speed he needed! I did find some ant free areas to take a breather though. Spiders scuttled under rocks, bees and wasps and dragonfly’s patrolled around us and it was all a bit much and he fell apart a little. I was able to console him by telling him he would soon be on a track he recognised and that his mum would be parked there waiting.
I didn’t see much of the last part of the trail, which is often an afternoons adventure in itself, but I snapped a few pics and powered on. It was good exercise if nothing else! He didn’t recognise the track as we don’t usually come at it from this direction so it was only when we were in sight of houses that he could relax a little. We even started having a laugh. By the time we reached the car he had a story or two to tell his Mum and you wouldn’t have known he’d been perturbed at all!
When we got home he showered and had a bit of blood on him and I suspected a leech had taken hold and had fallen off. When I had my shower I looked down to find a very fat leech attached to my leg! I didn’t feel a thing, it was just simply sitting there having a snack. I salted him off and felt a little bad doing so, but I just wanted to get clean.
So it was a tough walk and would be better in the winter when all the scary summer creatures are hidden away. But he now has a story to tell. He says he won’t do that particular trail again with me but thankfully I don’t think I’ve put him off bushwalking for life!
If anyone can identify that ant please let me know in the comments.