Footsloggers were back on the trail today, walking from checkpoint 4 (Olinda) to 5 (near Wandin, 14.4km). This leg was largely downhill or flat, although there were a few killer uphills as well. The real killer was a section known as the Melba Track, which included both a big uphill followed by an extremely steep (and gravelly, rocky) descent. This is a new section of the trail, and already has earned a reputation for being nasty. It's very likely that we'll be doing this stage in the dead of night -- in the very early morning in fact -- so all I could think of was how challenging the downhill section is going to be when we do it for real.
We'll also miss all the gorgeous scenery when we walk past in the night. I found today a really pretty walk: we passed through forests of tall straight trees, glades of green grass, open meadows, and typical Aussie bushland. Kookaburras were abundant, laughing in groups as they drifted from tree to tree. It was hot too, but much of today's track was shaded. Very pleasant.
Our wonderful support crew was once again in attendance. This time they met us at the 10km mark, where some medical attention was given to Emma's grazed knee. This was the only casualty of today's walk, although Lisa is still having problems with her foot/ankle. My shin niggle seems to have disappeared for the moment. I'll have a recovery day tomorrow (43 degrees!) and then get back to it on Tuesday.
We sent our support crew off to find us somewhere nice for lunch, while we completed the last 4km. And they succeeded big time. Serendipitously, while they searched for fresh cherries near Wandin, they stumbled across the historic Mont De Lancey Homestead, and its associated French cafe, Les Chesselles. The homestead was settled by a French family in the 1880s and there's a museum, plus other colonial activities. The cafe was charming, with a good selection of light lunches, wine, coffee and cake. We really enjoyed stopping there!
This group walk marks the start of our serious training. From here we start increasing the distances. Our next Footsloggers team walk is 31 Jan, when we'll tackle CP1-3 (22.3km).