6 May 2021. Cape Hauy, Tasmania.
“10k, we can do this!”
“Are we running the whole way?” Dave asked
“Well, not up the stairs.” And there was going to be a lot of stairs. “The notes say there’s 800 stairs up and 1000 down” Which we have to do in both directions, on tired legs from the epic hike two days ago.
“We can do this!” He repeated confidently.
Cape Hauy, on the Tasman Peninsula, promised to be an exciting track which started from Fortescue Bay. It’s the final day of the three day ’Three Capes’ walk.
The drive into Fortescue Bay took us through a forest reserve of towering gums. Sunlight flickered through the leaves.
After walking for 10 mins to limber up, we started an easy jog through eucalypt forest.
The trail started to climb and a few minutes later, turned to stairs. We stopped jogging and started climbing stairs using the same effort.
So many stairs, but we were mentally prepared.
A few kilometres later and the track flattened to a boardwalk that lead us to the edge of the eucalypt forest. The view suddenly revealed the Cape ahead, and cliffs into the distance further north.
“Wow!” Steep cliffs plunged to the sea and we could see the track etched into the headland. And oh look, more stairs.
The steps were well formed and we could continue running down to the saddle through dense costal heath. I was distracted by different wildflowers in the heath, delicate and yet hardy.
As the track launched uphill again, we slowed to climb the stairs and turn back to take in the view.
“Wow! Wow!” All I could say was “Wow!” It seemed like the view just looked better and better, or more dramatic from each view point. We took so many photos but none seemed to do the place justice.
It was about this time that we started passing people walking in the opposite direction. Mainly groups of retirees, and this is not an easy walk.
“You’re doing well on all these stairs!” I said to a older lady who must have been over 85. She was with her daughter, and was slowly making her way up hundreds of stairs.
“I just wish they would end!” She laughed but kept going.
“I want to be able to walk up these stairs when I’m her age!” I called out to Dave a few meters ahead.
An old guy with a walking stick saluted Dave as he jogged past and then high-fived me. As I sanitised my hand, I thought everyone seemed to be in a good mood. And why not, look around!
We were nearing the end of the Cape, the scenery was spectacular in every direction, we slowed down to walk and take it all in.
The track traced along the narrow cape, and performed a few dramatic switchbacks while overlooking a deep blue sea. Gaps through the pillars of rock exposed sharp views of the sheer cliffs.
Rounding a corner and suddenly The Totem Pole and The Lanterns came into view. Acutely angled sea stacks, cast out from the Cape.
From here it was a short walk around to the final lookout. A group of girls were taking a break, and greeted us as we climbed up onto the rocks. They packed up and headed back, leaving us with the lookout to ourselves.
“I get a deep and primal physical sensation, when I look over the edge” said Dave taking a photo while stretching over the balustrade.
We found a sheltered spot for a snack, below the main lookout amongst the tea trees.
“Remember being excited to see the organ piping at Mount Kaputar?“ Dave said looking west to the surrounding cliffs. “ This whole coast is organ piping!” he said with a sweeping arm gesture.
“This might be one of the most dramatic trails we’ve done.” I agreed.
Discussing sketching locations we decided to go back to a bench seat we remembered passing. But before heading back, we took one last look at the magnificent surroundings. We’ve got to remember this!
“Dave, I’m having a great day!”
“Here it is.” I said to David as I came across the somewhat concealed bench seat, set into the coastal heath. “Oh good and there’s no one using it.” It was in a great position for sketching. Sheltered from the wind, sun over our shoulder and facing a view of soaring cliffs.
Settling in, we got busy sketching. People walking past couldn’t see us, until they were upon us which brought about a few funny moments of surprise.
David had finished and was packing up and I was almost done myself, when a lady stumbled upon us.
“Oh… That’s a beautiful sketch!” She said coming over “Can I see?”
“Sure,” I said holding up my sketchbook, noticing the foreground needed to be darker.
“That’s really good.”
“Thank you” I wasn’t happy with the tonal values.
“Do you have others?” she said looking at the sketchbook
“Yeah” I turned the pages as a man joined her looking over her shoulder.
“This is Bluestone Bay at Freycinet. This is Wineglass Bay..”
“They’re really good” he said
“Thank you” I smiled a little embarrassed.
“What will you do with them? Will you frame them?” She asked
“Nah, it’s just a sketchbook.” And they’re double-sided. “Rather than just taking photos, it’s nice to sit and spend time with the view” I explained.
“Is that a wee spot?” Called out their friend as she approach our hideaway.
“Noooo!” We all said in unison chuckling.
“It’s not a wee spot!” I repeated.
“Have a look, she’s sketching” The first woman said to the couple approaching.
“How long did it take? How long have you been here?” The first woman asked.
“Uh..about half an hour” Time is hard to judge in painting mode. The second couple popped their heads around the heath.
“That’s lovely” said the second woman.
The first lady started explaining my sketchbook to the second lady.
“That’s a really good sketch. Really good” said the second man quietly, looking down from the path.
“Thank you” I said again as they continued on their way. I looked back to Dave, he grabbed me and chuckled “You’re pretty good. Aren’t ya!”
“I can’t tell if people are just being nice, or if they’re good.”
Back on the trail and it was time to get running again. But first, a load of stairs needed to be tackled. I tried not to remember the trail notes mentioned 1000 steps.
But climb them we did, without really needing to stop. I felt good. Tired, of course, but good. Except…
“Speaking of wee spots” I said to Dave. Helpfully, he pointed into the bushes. The dense bushes. No.“How about here?” he pointed. No. “There?” No, no, no. Girls have a different selection criteria than boys. Involving privacy and avoiding spiders, snakes and probably scorpions.
So for a few uncomfortable kilometres we ran looking for an appropriate spot, and keeping track of people behind us for how much time I’d have. Happily, I found a fairly suitable spot and we could continue running.
By this stage it was all downhill, okay down stairs, from here. So we made good time and passed walkers weighed down with backpacks and hiking boots, as we went. We passed the group we’d met sketching. “Stand aside, runners coming through!” Called one hiker to his party. I giggled to myself, I rather liked being called a ‘runner’. It’s really only been 2 years since we started running.
Yes. We, are runners.