Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Waddlebla Downhill Track

You might notice a theme here where I am consistently walking up downhill tracks. I actually ended up on the Waddlebla (apparently there is a mountain somewhere up there in the Lamb Range named Waddlebla, but I saw neither mountain nor waddle and I didn't feel bla) downhill track by accident. 

I set off on my (borrowed) bicycle this morning for the Ivan Evans Walk. This short trail (only 2.4 km return) was next on my list to tick off, and, although at first glance, this might seem like a long bicycle for a short walk, the ride to and from the walk is quite pleasant, and, now my arse is more adjusted to cycling, I don't mind a longer cycle approach, which always, but always beats having to drive somewhere. 

It probably took me about 50 minutes to cycle to the start of the walk, but I couldn't swear to that as I don't pay much attention to time. I had not ridden this route before so I stopped to check my handy Cairns cycle track map a few times to make sure I was still going the right way. The streets were pretty quiet on this New Years Day but a few Cairns folk were out walking before it got too hot. 

 Warning sign #2

I started from the Ellen Close trailhead where there are at least three signs warning you of “very steep grades” as you walk up to the lookout. Actually, the trail switchbacks up nicely on stone steps and, while it is a consistent uphill walk, the trail is never really steep (at least by other Aussie standards). The lookout has almost entirely grown in. By craning your head about, you might get a glimpse of the coast line, but mostly you will just be looking into the canopy of leafy trees. I actually walked past the lookout and had started the descent on the north side before I realized that the minor bulge in the trail I had passed was the lookout. 

 Lookout view

Right at the bulge in the trail (there is an old wooden railing as well) at the “look-out” (such as it is) a steep trail starts heading uphill on a little spur ridge. I can never resist a trail going somewhere I'm not actually going, so I followed it up. This trail is steep but clear and in not too long, I intersected the Waddlebla downhill track. I had no idea this was the Waddlebla Downhill track – a fact I only discovered later after a Google search – but I was clearly on a well defined downhill mountain bike trail. Where there is a downhill mountain bike trail there will always be a road, and I was sure this trail would eventually lead up to the Lake Morris Road. But, here I was again at another trail going somewhere else, so up I went.

Waddlebla Track

Apart from the last couple of hundred metres (distance not vertical elevation gain) the Waddlebla track is never as steep as the one that comes up from the Ivan Evans track, and it didn't take me long to hike right up to the Lake Morris Road. The track follows a prominent ridge all the way so there are a few level sections and even one short downhill stretch. The track comes out on a broken rocky bluff at 500 m ASL. Apparently this is about 10 km up the Lake Morris Road but there is nothing to mark the trail-head.

View from the Waddlebla Downhill Track

I was actually interested in following the mountain bike track all the way down as I wanted to see where it came out (I told you I can never resist another trail), but, I thought I might come out a fair distance from where my bike was stashed so it was completely unintentional that I missed the junction where I had first joined the Waddlebla track and ended up following the Waddlebla track all the way down to Vine Close, which, I was happy to note was only about 500 metres from where my bike was parked.

The whole journey door to door took only about 3.5 hours and the walk up the Waddlebla Downhill track was much more interesting than the Ivan Evans walk. There are some big trees on the trail, the ridge that track follows is pleasant to walk and you even get a view.

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