Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kuranda Uphill Track

Somewhere, I can't precisely remember where, I found out about the Kuranda Downhill Track that runs down to Smithfield from the high point of the Kennedy Highway as you head towards Kuranda. Apparently, this is a very popular down-hill mountain bike track. People ride it multiple times in a row shuttling bikes up to the top by vehicle which somehow seems contrary to the whole spirit of going for a bike ride to me.

In any case I was interested in neither riding up nor down, but I thought walking up from the bottom would provide a nice mornings walk accessible by bicycle.

First thing in the morning, I cycled over to the Kennedy Highway at Smithfield and had a rather unpleasant ride/bike push up to the start of the track. All I knew about the bottom of the track was that it came out on the first switchback out of Smithfield. I rode up to the start of the switchback and then crossed over the road, hefted the bike over the guardrail and walked up the switchback looking for the start of the track. At one point, I thought I saw it below me so I locked the bike to a tree and slithered down a slippery bank and found myself in someone's back garden. Climbing back out, I easily found the track right at the uphill side of the first switchback. I left the bike where it was and started walking.

Huge spider across the track

The first thing I saw was this giant spider with a large web spun across the trail. Once I'd got around this beasty, it took me about 45 minutes and a gallon of sweat to hike up to the lookout on the Kennedy Highway. I took my shirt off at the top to wipe the worst of the sweat off myself and noted that there was not one centimetre of material that was still dry. Prior to living in Cairns I did not realize that the human body could produce the amount of sweat that an easy hike generates.

Cairns from Henry Ross Lookout

After admiring the view, and repelling all the tourists that stopped to see lookout over Cairns as they drove by, I headed back down. This sign marks the start of the trail and cautions against walking the track as you might get taken out by a cyclist going 70 km an hour. That seems improbably fast, but maybe downhill bikers do reach those speeds. The more interesting thing to note is that it takes the average biker 4 to 6 minutes to descend. Seems these bikers don't get a whole lot of exercise doing this trail given that they shuttle to the top instead of ride up. 

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