Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Easter at Falls Creek

Just before Easter we decided we wanted to go away for a few days. Only problem was, most people decided this months ago, and being more organised than us, booked everywhere out. So I jumped on to a last minute booking site and grabbed an apartment at one of the few places that still had plenty of spots available - Victorian ski resort Falls Creek.

So on Good Friday mid-morning, we all piled in the car, and began the looooong haul to the high country. It's a fairly exhausting drive - not just for the six and a half hours it takes once you allow for stops, but also for the constant turning along the winding mountain roads that requires considerable focus if you want to avoid plummeting to an untimely demise.

Once there, we settled in to the very awesome Altitude Apartments, and went for a little explore. Our apartments were right up the top of the resort, so we meandered down the streets to Slalom Plaza at the bottom, which is where all the main shops and cafes are. Out of ski season, Falls Creek is something of a mountain biking mecca, and it was clear that's what most of the current occupants were there for. After our walk, we were all pretty tired, so we grabbed some takeaway, and had an early night.


The next day was Sully's birthday, so we did the presents, then had an amazing breakfast at the old cafe you see on the right as soon as you drive in to Falls Creek. Then we registered the kids for the Adventure Kids activities, which was orienteering, fly fishing, geocaching, slacklining, tent putting uppering, obstacle coursering, and a few other things I can't remember, oh yeah - TRAIL RUNNING. Anyway, they had a fantastic time, and by mid afternoon, they were exhausted, and ready to chill for a while.

Birthday Boy

Which of course meant it was time for a run! I headed out straight on to the main Aqueduct Trail, and ran on that until it joined up with Bogong High Plains Road. I ran on the road for a few k, crossing the dam wall of Rocky Valley Lake, then following the road around the perimeter of the lake until Langford Gap.

Rocky Valley Lake

Langford Gap is well known as one of the checkpoints of the famous Bogong to Hotham mountain run, and once I left the road there and joined the East Aqueduct trail, I was basically running part of the B2H course, but in reverse. When I reached the point of the Alpine Trail, instead of turning on to the trail straight away, I continued on for a short out and back, before returning to the little hut that marks the turn off and starting the fun part of the afternoon.

Alpine Trail turnoff

The single track of this section was beautiful, the 20% lower oxygen at this altitude keeping my breathing fast and shallow, as I ran through the regenerating Snow Gums, burnt in the 2003 fires. I ran hard all the way up the climb, before hitting fire trail again, linking up with the Big River Track for a short distance before reaching another junction. Here I left the B2H course, turning left onto the Heathy Spur Track for the highlight of the day. This was Alpine running at its finest - 5km of  tough, undulating single track that kept you honest all the way, with a wickedly fun descent back down to the dam wall. From there, I just followed the main Aqueduct Trail back to the village.

Leaving the B2H course for the Heathy Spur Track

That evening we went out to dinner for Sul's birthday - pizzas at the main pub in the Plaza. Two very tired kids at the end of the day.


Sunday morning was Easter Eggs at the crack of dawn of course, then I was straight out the door for another crack at the high country. I kept it pretty much the same as the day before - I didn't want to get too fancy and end up getting lost. And like the day before, I carried all 4kg of my mandatory TNF100 kit. The only changes I made to the course, was an extension of the out and back along the East Aqueduct Trail, an out and back to Ropers Lookout (Stairs!) after I came off Heathy Spur, and then an unplanned diversion after crossing the dam wall where I took a couple of wrong turns, then ended up on a mountain bike trail.

Ropers Lookout

After the run, it was more Adventure Kids activities, where we got lost doing geocaching and started yelling at each other, then back to the apartment for some afternoon Cluedo. We all had a great time, and while it was a fair drive there and back, it was definitely worth it.

As far as the running goes, I can see how people fall in love with the Alpine region. It's certainly a unique place to run - beautiful, wild and rugged.