This walk was a little unplanned.. well rather unplanned. Wednesday, yesterday, my boss told me to leave an hour early today, so I figured it was perfect for a walk. Finishing at 8 would mean no need to rush, and plenty of time to do something. The weather was perfect too: morning frost but sunny. Being so very last minute and not having a lot of petrol in the tank, I went for the closest peak, which happened to be Quoin (they’re slowly getting further and further away).
Quoin is an interesting one, because I think the usual access is from Colebrook, or at least that’s how I’ve heard others have done it, and have driven quite close to the top. But recent reports suggest there’s a locked gate which makes the walk a fair bit longer. So I thought I’d go for a recce out the Bagdad way, with the bike, and figured worst case scenario I could head up to table mountain if I couldn’t get close enough. This was one walk I’d have liked to have had others along for, but not knowing if I could even get close meant I couldn’t quite take the chance.
As it turned out, I got further than expected, and ended up deciding to just give it a crack then and there. Table could wait. I’d driven to within less than 4km from the summit, arriving at a locked gate. No private property signs were up, and there was a little gate for people, with a sign just asking that it be shut. So, after looking for someone to ask if I could walk through their property (I’d been lead to believe it was owned by a Norwegian and HWC member), but realising none of the buildings were actually inhabitable, I got the bike out, and started peddling. Aside from one or two bits walking the bike, it proved a very effective way to get to where I wanted to go, and I’d suggest it as a ride/walk for any keen mountain bikers who want to cross riding with a bit of walking.
The 4wd track is mostly dirt with wet (or on the ascent, frosted) leaf/forest matter covering it. There are some sections where it’s rock, and after a bit it meets up with another road, much better quality, which is all compacted gravel and easy to ride on, both up and back.
I had more issues on this walk with the GPS maps not being accurate to what’s actually on the ground, and the track I’d drawn from Google Earth on my computer not being accurate either (granted, the imagery was from 2008 or something). It showed roads going where they didn’t (at least not obviously) and didn’t have some of the very distinct roads marked at all. Google Earth had also given me the impression that there were a lot of very open forestry coups to the east of the peak, and I’d assumed I could just find a way through it once I was there. Mistake! The coups were sufficiently regrown to have made a scrub bash take a bit of time and effort.
After nearly just deciding to straight line it, I got sensible, and a haunch made me follow one very overgrown road hoping, really hoping, that I’d find a nicer way up. I’d almost given up and was all for turning back to a spot that I’d seen where the scrub seemed a bit thinner, when I popped out onto what seemed like a very decent road compared to the one I’d been on (you can guess which one was actually marked on the GPS, and which one wasn’t!).
After following this a bit, and coming to a crossroads, I was so tempted to take the road that seemed to go straight up, but again, got sensible and pulled out the iPhone and consulted Google’s satelite images. Wise choice. It seemed to be one of those days where you have to try really hard to resist the temptation to go straight up. So with the phone in one hand, the gps in the other, and very thankful for both, I managed to work my way up on old roads, some rather overgrown, to within 200 metres of the summit.
I think that’s about as close as you can actually get on the roads, and in any case the scrub is no higher than knee height. I had a thin covering of snow, which made it quite nice, and also gave me snow showers every time I bumped into or pushed past something! No views really from the summit, but it didn’t really matter.
All up: 11.2km, 2.31hrs, 508m ascent.