I was planning on going paddling today, but after I found my knee was OK earlier this week, plans changed.
Even I realised that as my excuse for not doing Wildside had been diagnosed away … I had better get out and pretend to do some training.
After a very brief consideration of options, I decided that Tooms Lake would be an absolutely perfect training venue for Wildside based on the simple premise that I wanted to go and ride there.
Truth be told all I knew about Tooms Lake was that it was a long way off the beaten track, I hadn’t been there before, and there appeared to be an old 4WD trail right around the lake.
That was good enough for me.
Getting there was easy enough (just follow the signs north of Oatlands), and after parking at the public toilets (don’t get too excited – it’s just a drop dunny) I set off in a clockwise direction relying on the simple logic that if I keep the lake on my right, what could go wrong?
That was answered within the first 200 metres as I came to the spillway …
As everyone but me would probably have predicted, by the time I got to the other side I had two wet feet as the concrete slipway disappeared and I was unable to ride through the deep water on the other side.
The track on the other side of the spillway can be a little confusing, but mostly because of tracks leading off to campsites, or around muddy sections, but just so long as you choose the track that looks like it is going around the lake, pretty soon you’ll find yourself on the only track left standing and riding happily along.
I suspected (and have since had confirmed) that this track could be pretty much a bog-bath during winter, because even in December in sections it was … shall we say a tad damp?
However, most of the route along the Northern Edge of the lake was pretty fantastic riding, but with the caveat that this isn’t groomed and cleared trail … you’ll be maneuvering over logs, sliding around ruts, scooting the occasional (big) puddle and you will get the odd stick or two in the spokes.
But it’s all worth it in my opinion as demonstrated by the fact that most of my photos seemed to be arty farty photos along this section which means I must have been enjoying myself …
Somewhere towards the eastern end of the lake there’s a long section through tea tree scrub where you either get really wet feet or you follow a rough, tough detour and get scratched …
|Bit overgrown …
I went for the scratched option.
Soon thereafter, just as my feet were getting dry, I came to another creek crossing. This time a knee deep one.
Now you can make the mistake I did here of following the obvious tracks right across the paddock to the other side, enjoying the flowers and wildlife along the way, but it does get a bit annoying when you get there and realise that the actual track doesn’t cross this meadow, but instead goes right as soon as you come out into the paddock and re-enters the bush back there … what was that I said at the start … just keep the lake on your right and you’ll be OK.
I should learn to follow my own advice.
The track got a bit muddier along this next section, but it was still pretty easy riding in the main.
and before I knew it, I emerged out at a rather significant junction.
Now I knew that the track goes right here and follows the lake, but I chose to take a detour inland and followed the track out to an old quarry (about 3kms away) which I had previously driven to from Little Swanport, just to check that you could get to this lake from the East Coast (you can) and on my return to the lake, I not only discovered some rather nice trail, I also found a very interesting man made juimp …
On my way back to the lake, I explored a few other side tracks, finding that one of them runs along the lake parallel to the lakeside track (but higher up) and coincidentally detours past some of the muddiest and slippiest sections of the lake circuit.
Of course the downside of this was that I then had to ride the muddiest and slippiest section not once, but twice (there and back), as I continued my explorations of the lake to ensure I’d done the full circuit.
Though thinking of it … I’d chose to ride this way anyway unless the trail really was underwater.
The final section of the circuit (along the eastern end of the lake) has a few junctions where you could take a wrong turn (however if you follow my rule of keeping the lake on your right (so not taking left junctions) you won’t go far wrong as you’ll either quickly come to a dead end by the lake or you’ll be on the right track).
I also initially followed the 4WD route show on my GPS when I came to one junction which lead me out onto the access road to the lake, which I then followed back to the lake (only about a kilometre) however I then followed another unmarked track back along behind the shacks on the lake and found a much more enjoyable track back to the start.
All up I ended riding about 40kms, but I did a lot of backtracking and route riding I suspect others wouldn’t. The actual circuit of the lake is only 20kms.
Definitely a ride for the summer months (I’ve since had confirmed that in winter it is an underwater bog), but also definitely a good place to ride.
Yep, training done. I reckon I’m ready for the Wildside now, so time to put my feet up and enjoy Christmas.
PS. I’ve now put up track notes etc. for Tooms Lake over on tassietrails.org