I was able to drive to the National Park from Melbourne today. The drive became more pleasant as it went on and the scenery improved. I had a nice little lunch in Barratt and made it to the trails by 4:30 (I left the airport about 12:45.
The vistor center was very helpful and should be a first stop. They told me what sections were closed due to fire; what the routes were like, and even helped map out a path to maximize my experience. Though it did take a few reassurances and examples that yes, I really did want 10+km. Based on their information I parked at the tennis courts next to the gardens.
Grampion Trails and my day
First off, the trails are definitely fine for running. Lots of rock “steps” and some loose rocks in occassional places, but really quite manageable. I followed a route starting at the gardens and then following the highlighted areas. The Pinnacle was my favorite, but I also enjoyed the view from Sun Dial. The trails between the Sun Dial Carpark and Sun dial were wide and easy. The tracks from Sun Dial down to the lake were more varied and harder to run at points. This section of the trail had a lot of fern covered track on a steep decline and then it opened to a jeep road. What was nice on the run down towards the back was I saw 2 Kanagroos and a character that looked like a porcupine but was in fact an echidnas.
The run should have taken around 3 hours for the total 15k, but my hamstring got mad at the halfway point and forced a march to happen for a good part which resulted in a 4 hour and 15 minute time on the mountain. I was very glad to have had my ultraspire titan on, as I ate all my food and every drop of water before the time was done.
Note: There was no water on the trail, even at the car parks
I was done after sunset and fortunately had left a wrap (purchased at lunch) to eat when I finished. (this was key given the late hour most things were wrapping up and where I was going all would be closed upon arrival.) I then had to drive to the coast for my spontaneous AirBnB beach house at Warrnambool. Lets just say – holy crap what a crazy drive. The kanagaroos, rabbits, and even loveable koala bear (with a baby on its back) were out crossing the roads in the near pitch black. I had to swerve numerous times to miss them. Honestly I saw at least 15 kangaroos at the edge of the lane or crossing on my drive. In some parts you are really in the middle of nowhere – at one point I went 60 kilometers without seeing another car or much of anything.
Best to finish next time before sundown and not have any part of that noctural party.