Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kiwi brevet prep - Stinson Park to Running Creek and Mt Gipps

The Christmas Creek region is an area at the base of  Lamington NP, close to the QLD/NSW border track and the Lions Rd. Some beautiful and challenging country.

Wifey, the pet monkey and I did a dayride out from Stinson Park many years ago, we explored several roads including Gap Creek Road. Back then we limited our exploration depth with the pet monkey on board - no HAB (hike-a-bike) or 10 hour epics. The area intrigued me, and I always wanted to return to pick up where I'd left off.

Many years had gone by, recently my mate Dave attempted a through ride that went through this area, subsequently this area appeared back on my radar. Dave was halted by a segment of the range... my challenge was to find a suitable route over the range and add a HAB segment to future bikepacking trips through this area. I found the route tough going but doable - it won't be for everyone. Read on...

Just a perfect day. Lou Reed, RIP.

Off the bitumen and onto the dirt of Gap Creek Rd. Only a short segment of dirt, then the climb begins.

A stunning backdrop of Lamington NP.
The bike I used is my Salsa Fargo ti. This is the bike I'm taking with me for the Kiwi Brevet 2014, so was a good day to test quite a few things for hill climbing and HAB - of which I know there'll be plenty of both on the Kiwi.
The track climbs straight up along the ridge.

 Taking a break from the climbing, looking behind revealed framed glimpses of the valley.

Back to the ascent. The most efficient way to HAB  was to shoulder the bike - this removed significant stress from the Achilles tendons, allowed better foot placement, less heel slip in the boot (less blistering), aided balance and engaged larger muscle groups better to propel forward. A thick pad of neoprene or EVA foam works well as a shoulder pad, drivetrain facing out, one hand under the downtube.

I cached the bike on the hillside, then continued to summit.

 The summit revealed an amazing vista. While there I looked for my target destination in the Running Creek valley - a small farm track that headed west to Mt Gipps locale. Along with a compass, I find a good pair of binoculars are handy for picking out routes and spotting birds. Through my Nikons I spotted the lesser forested ridgeline that I would descend into Mordor Running Creek valley.

 I got to my planned descent ridgeline. High alert for snakes.

 Descend for about 40-50 mins (walking, not riding) the lantana was getting a bit thicker, but still manage to pick a line through the swath.

After a while though, it became a wall of lantana. I could hear the creek running in the distance, but the treeline gave nothing away as to how far it was. This section I estimated at about 50m - my conviction pushed me forward, as such my technique was simple - stow all items on the bike that could get torn off, then throw the bike onto the lantana to create a path, stomp to the bike, lift bike off said lantana, swear at wait-a-while and barbed wire vine, repeat throwing process.
The barbed wire vine catches and shreds flesh, stretchy fabrics and handlebar tape. Will pack my heavy pants next time. The numerous march flies attacked any part of exposed flesh.

I'm not Danny Macaskill, so the drop into the creek had to be walked, not ridden.

 Rockhopping down the creek was taxing work with the bike, I ran out of rocks to hop, deep pools with large fish swam the depths. A quick deviation to follow a break in the scrub, led me to a peaceful grove - reminded me of Marshall Canyon in California... only thing missing was the chipmunk.

 To get back on target it was back into the scrub. More lantana shortly after. Snakes and bitey things were always on my mind, but my fuzzy animal logic told me to act like a big, mostly dumb, noisy animal. I'm a good method actor :)

At the creek again, plenty of rock options and about a km or so of hopping to get onto the farm track.

Rough farm track was pockmarked by cattle hooves.

After a lot of paddock bashing, I was on the gravel of Mt Gipps Rd/Chinghee Creek Rd and very happy with my objectives met.

Postscript from the day after:

My knees and bike were lacerated by the lantana, barbed wire vine and wait-a-while. No ticks.

 Looks like a cat scratching pole.

 ...and I broke a zip tie :) . Build 'em tough, ride 'em in the rough...

I look forward to getting back there again. I felt this ride delivered exactly what I wanted - offtrack excursion, serious HAB, navigation exercise, adventure, no safety net and back at half past. The next segment will be to complete the final step from Mt Gipps out to Running Creek Rd and the Lions Rd. The shortest route appears to be following the creek line as it zig-zags down the valley. Looks like a walk in the park.

...any takers for my next trip?


  1. Did you go south into Running Creek valley?! That is one tough looking descent so well done. Do you have a gps trace of the route that you might like to share?
    And count me in next time....!

    1. Yeah Dave, that is Running Creek and the valley of the same name. The descent was to be expected but the lantana took a bit of time to negotiate - the pics truly don't do it justice, difficult but not impossible, the only way was forward to meet objectives. Gps track - yep, but it's very segmented in that area - I placed the garmin in my frame bag so it wouldn't get torn off (pushing the bike infront of me and throwing it on top of the lantana is a harsh thing to do to accessories...) so I'll have to get creative in Basecamp. Next're in! But you realise I may be looking for even more challenges next time :)

  2. Troy ... that's a great read. You're a loony. A nice one.

    1. Hey Andrew, maybe I need therapy, I truly enjoyed that trip.

  3. Fantastic ride report, awesome photo's... but the "lantana" section brought back horrible memories of the time I got horribly lost in the bush...not for posting, much enjoyed....Fred H

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Fred. We all get lost sometimes. Years ago, a mate and I lost our 4x4s one night - two large, white, long wheel base wagons. We spent about 40 mins walking around, clicking our keyless entry remotes, hoping to see the indicators flash. Fun times, great lessons.