Friday, April 18, 2014

Morialta Trail Running

This morning my aim was to run about 21kms, hopefully 25kms. I got up at 5 for a pre run coffee - if you've been following my blog you'll know that I don't operate well, or even bother trying to operate without my morning coffee. I love the ritual and what my morning coffee signifies. The process of making and drinking my morning coffee just sets me up for the day, it is a moment to just chill and let the day start slowly. It eases me into the rhythm.
I decided to drive to the base of Morialta, and then run from there, thus saving a good 8kms or so of just running throgh the suburbs, which wasn't really what todays run was meant to be about for me. I hit the trail just after 6, the sun was just rising so it was a bit dark in the valley. I decided to just do an easy jog up to the main waterfall on the well maintained trail to start, thus preventing risk of rolling an ankle or tripping on something in the dark. By the time I had hit the waterfall it was light enough to get to the good trails.
Running back down the main valley trail from the First Falls, I hooked a right and started the uphill battle with "Center Trail". I cut off the beginning of the "Centre Trail" with a nice bit of single trail that headed towards the top of the first falls. This met the Center Trail a few hundred meters up the valley. I like skipping this first bit of the "Centre Trail" as it is just a wide 4x4 track, and the single trail is far more fun to run. Once rejoining with the "Centre Trail" I proceeded to run for along it for probably 4km or so. The beginning of this trail was ridiculously steep, but then in plateaued out to a really nice gentle trail once I hit close to max elevation. This trail ended up at a T intersection with Moores Track. I took a left, now heading West, and then hung a right (North) a few kms later to drop down Chapman's Track towards Montacute Road. I had never run Chapman's trial before, but I quickly noticed that it just continued descending, and descending quite rapidly. At this point I was almost a hour into my run so thought it would be prudent to turn back and not cause myself too much unnecessary climbing - especially seeming I had no water or food on me. However, by this point the damage was done and the climb back up Chapman's Track was a good effort. It's amazing how quickly you descend and don't really pay attention to how far you have descended until you have to haul your ass back out of the hole you just ran into. I think I only ran down the trail for 10 or so mins, and it was a slog to recover that altitude.
At this point the sun was just creeping above the foot hills, basking the trails in golden light. There were some really dark clouds off in the distance, and the contrast between the golden light on the Eucalyptus and the jet black sky was amazing. The bush land up at this height is amazing, the soil gives way to thin sandy soil on sandstone, and the vegetation becomes almost stunted in appearance with a lot of dense undergrowth comprising of Corrias, Heath and Xanthorrea.
I made it back to the intersection of Moores and Chapman's Track, and passed straight across to a trail I have run on a previous trail run. It's a beautiful single track that follows the ridge and then drops and loops around the city facing slope and back down into the main Valley of Morialta. This trail is aptly named Rocky Hill Track. Yes, it is quite rocky, but beautiful and technical so it keeps you on the ball. Once I got back to the main Valley I wanted to circumnavigate the top of the Valley and make my way to Norton Summit Road. This would be my turn around point at which point I was just headed back to the car. So I followed the main single track around the top of the Valley, getting magnificent views of the cliffs. This led me to Centre Track again for a brief moment, and then I hooked onto a different single trail that headed well above 4th creek out towards Third Falls and Norton Summit Road.
Finally making it out to Norton Summit Road, I was probably about 1hr 20mins into the run and feeling a bit sore in the calves from a hills session a few days prior. It was nice to know that most of my work was downhill from here. Pulling a u-ball, I headed back along the same trail, this time taking the lower trail along 4th creek, instead of the higher trail that I entered on. From this trail I was able to shoot accross the top of second falls and loop around the side of the Valley that I had not yet run along, giving me views of the other side of the Valley. I was now running on the Northern facing slope, and it is amazing how different the vegetation is. This face gets way more sun, and hence it was dry, had way more Casuarinas than eucalyptus, and the undergrowth was more dry arid grasses and spindly shrubs, as opposed to the more lush appearing vegetation that I witnesses at the top of the Rocky Hill Trail.
The trail now led me slowly back to the main carpark, which then left me with a meandering 1km run along the creek back to my car, parked down on the street, avoiding park fees ;-)
Total run time 1hr46mins for only 17kms. That gives you an idea of how steep some of the terrain was. What an amazing run. Such a beautiful part of the world to spend my Saturday morning. I'm so stoked that I run, I have seen many amazing things that I would not have seen had I not gone running!
For more info on Morialta hit the link for trail maps and park info.

This photo helps paint the picture. Taken a few yearsn back while hiking on one of the trails I speak about above.

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