Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Town Common

    Every once in a blue moon I get all G'd up on these hair brain ideas to getting up early and strike out on an adventure. Most of the time the buck stops at the alarm clock the next day, but for some reason this morning I am able to vault myself out of bed at 6:00am. I shove an orange down my throat and snag my bag on the way out of my dorm room. This morning I had planned to cycle up to the Town Common, which is a local nature park on the North side of town. From a quick look at the Google maps, I guessed about a 12k bike one way, so maybe after I returned I would've put around 27k under my tires, and a few more under my own two feet.
    As I ride out of campus on the thick morning air, the beams of sunshine start to cook away the night's humid air. I cross the Ross River, and as I glance at the water I spot a huge freshie! What a site! A 2.3m fresh water croc just floating in the open water right below me. This is a fully grown adult size as far as freshies go. I snap a few quick pics and ride on.
    This bike ride took much longer than I had expected. Given the flat landscape of Townsville, I had reckoned it wouldn't take but 35-40 minutes. I entered the park around 45 minutes and the dirt roads here are worse then back home. The wash boards and pot holes are short and deep and my deep fried quads are struggling to keep my body lifted and the pedals moving.

    I finally bail off my bike a few k's before the trail head I'm heading to so I can refuel and hydrate a bit. The scenery here is gorgeous!
    Once I make it to the trail head, I shackle my bike to a tree and hobble up the stone trail. Gosh, I feel like an old man or a new born baby colt trying to work these tired legs. But as my land legs return, I find more and more breath taking views a top the ridge. And I see more and more trails I'm going to have to try next time I make it up here.
     After a few k's of hiking I spot a small snake. A whipsnake by the looks of him and his speed! Whipsnakes are lean slender Elapid snakes. This could be any of the three species that occur here; my ID isn't perfect. But unfortunately there are many rocks and ground cover all over this steep hills side and he is gone before I can catch him or snap a picture.
    At the midpoint of my hike, I take a seat on a rock with a commanding view to eat an apple. This sounds like a glamorous, charlatan idea until I notice that my skin feels like it's on fire and I find that I'm under siege by a hoard of green ants.
    As I head back to my bike, disheartened by the lack of reptiles for the morning and exhausted from my adventures, I spot a chunky body form with scales on it right smack in the middle of my path. My initial delirious reaction was "Yes! a death adder (beautiful snake, highly venomous)" Then I saw the legs "Oh, blue tongue skink! Well that's cool too!"
    Blue tongue skinks are sort of a hallmark species for Australia as far as herps go. They have  a marvelous wide blue tongue they use to mop up enormous amounts of ants and other insects, and they also use these tongue as a formidable defensive posture. These lizards aren't fast at all, and their only defense in camo or acting really scary.

    This guy afforded me plenty of excellent pictures and I bid him good bye so he could continue his fest of ants on the trail.
    As I rode home, I relished to sense of success in seeing some breath taking views and one very unique skink. After I arrived back at my dorm, I plugged in the GPS coordinates of my rides and hikes for the day, and was incredulous at the fact that I had rode just shy of 33km and hiked 10km. So I decided to retire the rest of the day to my room.

No comments:

Post a Comment