During the hot and humid days of midsummer, we find ourselves drawn towards places where we can enjoy a cooling swim. Sapling Pocket is the perfect place for a mid-ride splash.
We began our ride a few kilometres from Ipswich at the Kholo Botanical Gardens and followed a gravel road north along the river.
The road undulated around several striking hills clad with thick forests of hoop pines.
The views were impressive, but my legs kept nagging me about the steep hills.
Paul hung back and rode with me while the others slowly pulled ahead.
“Don’t get any fitter than this,” I joked with him.
“If you were any stronger I wouldn’t be able to keep up.”
After about half an hour we reached the end of the road at the Kholo Enviroplan Reserve.
This large tract of bushland is hidden away in a remote pocket of the Brisbane River. Its hills are crisscrossed with a variety of interesting tracks.
We explored a few of them.
One of the tracks dropped us down by the river.
We had been near here before a few times, and a few of us tried to figure out exactly where we had been last time.
After a quick climb back up the hill, we stopped at an old mango tree.
I thought about picking a few ripe fruit to take home, but our fridge is full of Christmas food. I don’t think we could fit any more in.
We followed a track around the southern edge of another pine-clad hill.
It led us over a creek and through some shady glades.
We followed it through some cattle paddocks, eventually emerging at the road to an old abandoned quarry.
We rolled down a grassy track to an old wooden bridge over the river.
Water rushed by under the ageing wood.
This was a pretty place.
A little further downstream we pushed through some high grass and thick undergrowth, emerging at some rapids where the river narrowed, and rushed over some submerged rocks.
The water moved swiftly. We had to take care to keep our balance.
We found some spots downstream from the submerged rocks where the water didn’t move so quickly, and cooled down while the water rushed around us.
We had visited here a couple of years ago when the water level was a bit lower, and the current didn’t rush by so quickly.
It’s fascinating how the same spot can change so drastically after a bit of rain.
After we had cooled down, we dragged ourselves out of the water to dry off on the banks and have a quick snack.
I sat in the grass, swatted mosquitoes and though how fortunate I was to be able to visit such beautiful places each week.
Eventually we left the peace of the riverbank to bash through some tall grass and follow more grass tracks out of the reserve.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail passes close to where we were riding so we took a short detour along some quiet dirt roads to follow it for a few kilometres.
We ended the ride bouncing along St Michael’s Terrace, a rough old dirt track which led us back to our cars at the botanical gardens.
Max elevation: 143 m
Min elevation: 24 m
Total climbing: 1211 m
Total descent: -1201 m
Average speed: 16.09 km/h
Total time: 04:49:11
We rode a total of thirty-five kilometres in just under five hours. During that time we climbed about 950m in elevation and I burned about 2,500 kcal.
I found this ride physically challenging because of the heat and the endless ups and downs. I’ll rate it 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Eric, Paul S, Calum, Jason and Paul G for a fun day out!