As the heat and humidity rise in the lead-up to Christmas, we find ourselves drawn towards shorter rides closer to home, preferably with a swimming spot or two.
Today we explored the forest trails around Mapleton, planning to keep to the higher parts of the National Park to avoid long hill climbs.
A sign pointed to “Kureelpa Falls”. We thought it might be interesting to have a look at the falls, but it was at the bottom of a steep hill which meant we’d have a tough climb out.
Ah well – why not?
We rolled to the bottom of a long descent, parked the bikes, then hiked along the upper reaches of the South Maroochy River looking for a waterfall.
There wasn’t much water…
…but over time the river has carved out impressive rock faces, sheer cliffs and a narrow gorge.
As we rode back up the hill, the landscape slowly changed. The tracks narrowed and the dark-green vegetation closed in around us.
And then just as abruptly, we found ourselves in the midst of giant eucalypts.
At the western edge of the forest, the ground dropped sharply away, revealing the Gheerulla Valley and the distant peaks of the Conondale Range.
This was the perfect spot to sit, rest, and soak up the view.
Or just rest.
The clifftop on which we stood was almost directly above Gheerulla Falls.
The quickest way to get to the rock pool at the bottom was on foot down the walking track.
This track was too dangerous to ride, and bike riding wasn’t allowed, so we walked instead.
I had promised my friends a swim:
“The rock pool at the falls is shaded. The water is cool. I swam there in winter and nearly froze my backside off. It should be perfect this time of year.”
We eagerly walked the last few metres through the rainforest to the falls.
“Hey Neil, where’s all the water gone?”
Except for a few brown patches, the pool was almost empty. The falls weren’t flowing at all.
I was disappointed. When I had visited in winter, the falls were flowing, the pool was full and I had a freezing swim.
Today there was barely enough water to soak our feet.
Calum found a deeper spot that he could sit in.
Eric let the tadpoles and crayfish nibble on his legs.
It wasn’t what we expected,but that didn’t really matter…
…it was still pleasant to sit in the water and cool off.
After our swim, Calum gave us a brief demonstration of “Jungle Yoga”.
From here we rode uphill to Delicia Road through shaded groves of Piccabeen palms.
And then another short climb up Delicia Road back to Mapleton.
As we rolled past the cemetery I thought about how lucky we were to be alive, and how much I wanted to make every second count.
I remembered Leonard Lambert’s poem which describes how the dead look with envy upon the living, wondering why they don’t take more opportunities to live more fully while they still can.
I’d probably add one verse: “You have wheels, why don’t you ride?”
Back at the Mapleton Pub, we enjoyed lunch with a view, while Eric showed off his T-Shirt. As someone who has often tried to keep up with him, I can vouch for its accuracy.
Max elevation: 451 m
Min elevation: 220 m
Total climbing: 1064 m
Total descent: -1047 m
Average speed: 13.41 km/h
Total time: 03:54:06
We rode about 24km in 4 hours including breaks. During that time we climbed about 820 metres in vertical ascent, and I burned about 2,000 kcal.
Despite its short distance, on a hot day, this was a tough ride. I’ll rate it 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Please note that it’s illegal to ride bikes on the walking track between Ubajee and Gheerulla Falls. You have to walk it.
Thanks Eric, Calum, Jason, Adam and Raquel for a fun ride through some beautiful landscapes.
Merry Christmas everyone!