After a deload week when I, probably stupidly, did not deload all that much, I arrived – injury free - at week 5 of my base building hypertrophy phase where the easy zone 2 session becomes a sustained steep zone 3 workout. This handily coincided with us house-sitting up at the Blue Mountains where there are no shortage of steep climbs, somewhat unfortunately preceded by steep downhills, but, you take what you can get.
I planned out a route that involved almost 800 metres of elevation gain with the biggest chunk of that coming in a 660 metre steady climb, perfect for strapping on the heart rate monitor and grinding out my first zone 3 workout. From Evans Lookout near Blackheath, we would take an old track (marked “horse track”) that is no longer promoted by NPWS down to Govetts Creek, saunter along the creek, and then come up the spectacular Govetts Leap track where the real training would take place.
The falls at the base of the cliff section of Govetts Leap track
I had forgotten how wonderful the view is from Evans Lookout with all the big orange sandstone cliffs above the gum forested valleys. We stood awhile, and pondered all the amazing rock climbing potential, and then started down the tourist track that descends to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A few hundred metres down this track, an old foot pad goes straight ahead while the main track is signed to the right. This is the start of the old “horse track” (it does not appear as if any horses have used the track for a long time) that runs steeply down to join Greaves Creek downstream of the Grand Canyon.
Carne Wall from Evans Lookout
There are a few fallen trees to climb over and the track is a bit steep and loose to start, but soon the angle kicks back and, just after crossing Haywards Creek, we joined the main track along Greaves Creek. The creek is pretty with very clear water and there are a few small deeper swimming holes and we soon arrived at Junction Rock. We had a short water break sitting on Junction Rock, remembering the last time we had been through this valley on a trip into the Blue Gum Forest, and then we started the climb.
Crossing Govetts Leap Brook
Doug, who was not specifically training started up before me while I dickered around with my heart rate monitor. Surely, however, as I felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest, I would catch him, but no, the only time I saw him on the long climb up was when he stopped to see what was keeping me.
Govetts Leap track is probably one of the most spectacular walks in the Blue Mountains descending a series of ladders, stairs and ledges along cliff face with views of deep valleys, steep sandstone cliffs and tumbling waterfalls at every turn.
Grose Valley from Evans Lookout
At the escarpment top, where the lookouts were busy with tourists, we turned south and followed the Cliff Top track back past a couple more lookouts and across both Govetts Leap Brook and Hayward Creek to our starting point.