I rather like hiking alone.
There is something peaceful and empowering about it, and it gives you space to be alone with just your thoughts and mother nature.
So, when I have a day off and no one to go hiking with I never let that stop me.
I had just looked this hike up recently, and only decided to go while I was driving down the Eastern Freeway instead of going to Lake Mountain to climb that instead – I can be spontaneous sometimes. I guess subconsciously I was in the mood for punishment, because this trail was one of the hardest I have done in terms of endurance.
The trail I followed starts at Mason Falls Picnic Ground, but you could also start at Blackwood Picnic Ground or even the top of Mount Sugarloaf, but I think coming back up Sugarloaf last would be quite challenging as my only relief was the descent back being the last leg.
I took the trail from the picnic ground towards the falls and it’s about 700 meters to the viewing platform for Mason Falls, taking particular notice of the small hills I would need to walk back down on my way out. The falls are pretty nice, but you are pretty far away from them and I like my waterfalls close up.
I took the path with the sign pointing towards Sugarloaf Mountain and started my ascent. The next 8kms is essentially mostly uphill with few places to stops along the way, so I grabbed a chance to rest any opportunity I could. I also found a quiet spot on the left by the creek to sit down and peacefully have some snacks with the company of some Rosella’s.
I won’t mince words; it was a hard slog up to the top, so I just kept going despite the world of pain I was in, having many a rest stop to catch my breath and curse muchly. I have done a fair bit of hiking this year, and are no stranger to hills and summit climbs, but this was a killer for me. That 8kms of constant slow ascending was a huge challenge, and started to doubt my current physical state and level of fitness.
I really thought about turning back because I was hurting and I didn’t think I could make it back, but I’m stubborn and refuse to back down if I’ve set myself a challenge. Plus, I wasn’t dead yet.
The track was really nice in terms of being fairly well maintained, smooth, mostly free of obstacles, and full of lots of lovely lush Australian bush. But a track like that can get pretty boring as I do enjoy a bit of a challenge, lucky there were a few fallen trees to climb over to keep me interested.
Butterflies and finches kept me company most of the way, the butterflies getting real close even and circling around me as I walked.
Finally I saw some gates and a road and when I crossed over I saw the sign for Sugarloaf Ridge Track indicating that it’s just 900m’s to the top of Sugarloaf. Relief! The views along the way as they are quite nice, especially up the left hand site. You can see the surrounding hills and the evidence of the fires still after many years.
The top was kind of unceremonious as it’s practically just a parking lot because its accessible by road which is never what you want to see at a mountain summit. But hey, I made it and I was exhausted to I was going to enjoy the achievement no matter what. And the packed lunch and refuelling was much needed also.
To head back down I took the track to Blackwood Picnic ground, as it appeared shorter and I figured it would be the wise approach considering my present exhaustion level. It’s also nice not to have to take the same trail twice, and it did prove slightly shorter at 15kms instead of 16kms that it was supposed to be (but really, the extra 1km wouldn’t have killed me, or would it?).
I probably won’t do this one again, unless I’m training for something else that’s particularly heinous (yes, I just used a Law and Order: SVU reference).
Safe to say, I would be heading straight to the bath after this.