26th July 2020

Report courtesy of Clare Godley. Photo credits as indicated

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

Meeting at the beautiful Bushwillow Caravan Park, masked and sanitised on the fresh, crisp morning of Sunday the 26th July 2020, 10 hikers listened attentively to their hike leader, Neville Lee, as he explained the unknown trail they were about to embark on. The first half an hour came with a warning that it was to be the most difficult part of the day hike. But take heart that the sun at the top will shine as emerging from the forest promises.

With great enthusiasm, the 11 of us walked steadily up the very steep and wooded forest walk, ducking every now and then as vines and trees had grown freely, making it a true adventure in the forest. Slow and steady, although having to stop to regain the heartrate was most welcome. Finally winding through the leaf covered pathway, we turned towards the waterfall walk, somewhat straighter and more level, and avid photographers reached for their phones to capture the early morning dappled sunlight hitting the bright green young ferns and twisted vines. Passing the clivias which are well known for their show in September showed no sign of buds, but promised a beautiful spectacular when the time is right for the mere quantity of them massed together naturally. Finally after a 45 minute climb all 11 hikers welcomed the gentle sun on our backs as we took a break for snack time and overlooked the first glimpse of the view before us. Below - the hazy vast farmlands that seemed to go on forever, and above - sighting the altitude we were to climb to reach the masts at the top of Gilboa. Daunting if straight up was the route, but thankfully the next leg before the next regroup point was a steady walk on a freshly burned hillside towards a cluster of trees to shield us from the sun once again.

Again we tackled the steep terrain through thick trees towards soft and welcoming grassland as we saw the beauty unfold before us. The natural ability of each hiker created the socially acceptable gaps that made each of us feel comfortable. Regrouping at a beautiful midway point we sat in the long grass and appreciated the silence and gentle breeze that only the top rewards. Rested briefly and all together, we made the final accent to the top of Gilboa, dotted with many signal towers. The infamous beacon was photographed. The view although hazy, was spectacular, and so lunch was enjoyed by us all.

The advice from Neville to tie our shoes tighter so our toes wouldn’t hurt on the downhill, was well received as we all set off down the same path we had come up. All together and in step we felt we had conquered the world. The different views from our accent made it feel like we had not walked that way before, so rewarding. But as time went on the silence of the hikers told of the tiredness and weary legs we were all experiencing. Hard on the knees, but steadily downwards towards the end.

Our goal and achievement of the 19.8km and 636m incline was celebrated. An encouraging debrief by Neville rounded off a magnificent day.

Photos courtesy of: Este Shearer

Photos courtesy of: Vanessa Taylor

Photos courtesy of: Ali Englebrecht

Photos courtesy of: Keith Ashton