Today we attempted the “1000 Steps” walk, which starts at the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground and finishes 5kms later at One Tree Hill. It doesn’t sound all that much but, because of the steep terrain, it’s a killer. #:-s
The Kokoda Walk, as it is known, commemorates a famous (?) World War II battle in Papua New Guinea. At various points along the trail there are plaques showing your whereabouts in relation to the soldiers on the original Kokoda Trail, along with a bit of history about the battle.
We rolled up thinking it would be a pleasant stroll up a bit of a hill but we soon found out it was a bit more than that. According to the website, “The physical effort required to complete the climb gives walkers a sense of the exhaustion experienced by the Australian soldiers following the trail during the Kokoda campaign in 1942”. 😮
Even the 15 minute walk from the car park to the start of the trail is hard work: it must be about a 1-in-3 gradient. Upon reaching the bottom of the 1000 steps, you see people taking it a lot more seriously than us: people who are in training, preparing for marathons etc.
It’s got to be said that the walk itself is spectacular: it’s like going up a never-ending staircase in the middle of Jurrasic Park. It was absolutely exhausting and, despite our efforts in recent weeks, proved just how unfit we really are. Whenever I needed a breather — which seemed like every five minutes — I took pictures, which you’ll find in the Photo Gallery.
After about an hour, we reached the “Eora Creek” marker. Red-faced, sweating and gasping for breath we were dismayed to find that, according to the “You are here” arrow, we were only about 20% of the way through the walk! :-s
Knowing that the park closes at 4:30pm, we realised we wouldn’t have enough time to reach the summit and get back to the car, so we had to give up. Going back down was a lot quicker and easier than coming up, but we had to be very careful not to trip or slip. :-??
On the way back down we passed another milestone — “Templeton’s Crossing” — that we hadn’t noticed on the way up. Oddly enough, it looked like we were going the wrong way and we were now closer to the end of the trail than before. Hmmm. 😕
It took a moment or two for it to sink in, but we eventually realised that the trail is shown right-to-left on the milestones so, when we thought we were only 20% of the way along the walk, we were actually 80% of the way through it. Another 10 minutes and we’d have done it. Aargh. >:p
Our legs felt like jelly by the time we reached the car and our calves will certainly ache tomorrow from the climb, but we’ll have another bash at the Thousand Steps next week and this time we’ll finish it.
Edit: We went back on Tuesday lunchtime and did it again. As predicted, the spot where we gave up last week was only about 200 steps from the top. The last part is definitely the most difficult bit of the walk: the steps are tall, rough and jagged, quite dangerous when slippery. It took me about 25 minutes from the bottom of the steps to the summit and I was totally shattered at the top; Sara was about 10 minutes behind. It’s certainly good exercise and we’ll work on getting quicker at it in future, but definitely don’t fancy it again this week. #:-s