It’s been a hot one this weekend hasn't it! Whilst most of us are trying to get cool, and I freely admit that on any given day (especially the hot ones!) you will find me in the ocean doing laps of the beach or playing (body or board surfing) in the waves.
However, a couple of the hiking girls asked me would I like to join them on a recce they were doing in Kuringai National Park on Sunday. Sure, I said as I'm always up for some time in the bush with friends. As it was predicted to be hot, we met early in the morning and hit the trail at 7am. With plenty of water and #tailwind #endura on board 4 of us started at Mt Kuringai and we were hiking the trail that took us down and back up to Berowra Station. Approximately 10km in total, and for us just a quick training run with the object to be out of there by 11am before it gets too hot.
What a spectacular track this one is. Heading down from the rail line at Mt Kur-in-gai the bush is glistening at us and the sun peeking through the trees with some mist still on the opposite hills. We made our way down to Cowan Creek in 55mins. Whilst still shaded with bush it was still quite warm and we were all sweating lots but keeping our hydration levels up. A single track that winds around the creek side, we watched many boats heading out to go fishing, water skiing or wakeboarding or just chilling in the little bays that we passed along the way.
Around two hours into the hike we found a beautiful cave that was up a little higher with a water view, protected from the sun and very cool. Perfect morning tea spot!
coffee, fruit and slice were enjoyed and after about 20 minutes we donned our packs and headed back onto the trail. At this point we were about halfway along. It’s getting pretty warm by now and we are all really sweating well but maintaining a good pace. Stopping frequently to check in on each other. A little further along as the track narrows and has some bush encroaching. Our leader at the time crashing through the bush let out a shriek, we thought it must have been a snake, but no, just a bush turkey crossing the track "Just a chicken" was the comment! whew what a relief. We know that snakes are around but not keen on seeing them!
We start to climb gradually as we are nearing the last pitch of this hike, around 2.5km of uphill. Getting to the part where the track crosses the creek, we stop to take a break before we tackle the last climb. I have been sweating really heavily coming up the last part of this track and felt a little weak. So, I decided to have half an energy gel to fuel this last push to the top. Wow! was that a mistake.... I felt really weird and had to sit down, not only that, but the world started spinning and I was literally gone. I passed out for a second and must have given the girls a real fright. Instantly I realised that I was suffering from heat exhaustion*. I have had an experience of this previously in an Ironman Triathlon being taken off the course with heatstroke. Everyone being first aid and wilderness trained knew how to manage the situation and these years of training really kicked in to manage this successfully.
Lots of water poured over me, laying down on cool rocks and taking time to get my body temp down all did the trick to cool my core down and have me feeling much better in about 30-40 minutes. We walked slowly up the hill and taking a break at every shady spot about 10-20 steps at a time. Not tempting fate by moving too quickly in the heat.
We made it to the top at 12 noon and celebrated in our usual 'style' with a shandy and hot chips at the local watering hole. In this case the Berowra RSL! Take note that I only had a soda water with some fresh lime!!!
What I am really wanting to say here is this. No matter how fit you are and how well you think you are prepared, in the heat it is imperative to keep your body temperature cool. I wasn't dehydrated, my fluid levels were fine. It is simply that your body temperature gets too high and your system cannot cope. So please take note and take care. Have some instant ice packs in your first aid kit. I know I shall be taking extra frozen water and even ice in a small thermos or #nalgene bottle. Take that swim if you are able to in the hot weather, and most of all look after your buddies and yourself.
Happy and safe hiking
*see attached .pdf file