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The Corn Trail Caper in August 2000 - by Russ Evans

This is the third time the Club has tackled the historic Corn Trail which drops over six hundred metres from the top of Clyde Mountain to the Buckenbowra River. The party consisted of seven adults, two Evison children and a friend plus the group's mascot - Katie.

Rendezvous for five of the party was the old steamer wharf at Nelligen for a pleasant lunch before moving on to the nights campsite on a clearing off the Misty Mountain Road. The Evisons arrived later whilst the others were making a leisurely exploration of the Buckenbowra River. A pleasant night's camp was enjoyed around a good fire sheltered from the wind by a screen of trees and working out the complicated logistics of the following day's car shuffle. Kynie's after-dinner crepes were appreciated and Chris's grumble that they were not hot enough was put down to the observation that Kynie spoils him too much.

Two vehicles were dispatched to the foot of the Corn Trail with a third to bring back the drivers. A stick through a tyre on one vehicle caused quite a delay whilst the handbook was consulted on how to work the complicated release mechanism of the under-floor spare wheel of the Toyota. Russ then had the enjoyable experience of supervising two of the Club's female members whilst they struggled to change the wheel! The fourth vehicle was met on the way back to the campsite - its occupants clearly glad that the only problem was a flat tyre and not an overturned car on one of the steep slopes along the road.

Eventually the walk proper started from the top of Clyde Mountain with a cold wind telling us that it had been a wise decision to camp on the lower slopes. At first, the route runs south west along an old vehicle track in typical upland country of swampy woodland and heath before winding its way through semi rainforest in a sheltered gully above the escarpment. The track was easy to follow although starting to become overgrown in places.

Many examples of the local grass tree (Xanthorrhoea) found. Good views over the coast and north to Pigeon House from the plateau's edge. As soon as the track started its drop down the Corn Trail ridge and into shelter from the wind some started to peel off the first layer of clothing. By the time Dawn insisted on stopping for a much belated morning tea, the temperature was quite mild and remained so for the rest of the walk. Morning tea was also a time for some tree recognition. According to 'The Book', two species were identified as probables - Mountain Grey Gum and one of the Peppermints.

The rest of the walk down the ridge was much easier on legs and knees than some had anticipated as the grade of the track is not unduly steep except in a few places where fallen trees forced detours onto the steep cross slope. Even so, several knolls had flat sections which provided relief from the constant down slope.

Vegetation varied with altitude and the track ran under a wide range of species including Rough-barked Apple, Stringybark, Mountain Grey Gum, Gully Peppermint, Bloodwood, Messmate and Brown Barrel. The vegetation regime changed to rainforest with many tree ferns, Cabbage Tree palms and bird-nest ferns at the half-way point at Buckenbowra Creek. A lengthy lunch stop was welcome at this spot and the two girls changed into costumes and bravely announced they were going for a swim. Maybe their toes got wet but not much else.

The remainder of the walk followed the Buckenbowra River through delightful riverine and temperate rainforests Some of the ferns along this stretch are as large and impressive as the party has seen anywhere on the South Coast. The track was still fairly clear although the threat of vegetation taking over was greater than on the slopes because of deeper soils and milder conditions.

Grades are moderate for the most part as the route follows the contours and a good pace was kept up even though some of the party were getting a little tired. Cars reached about 4:30pm for the long drive out to the Kings Highway and the last part of the shuffle to retrieve the two vehicles from the top of Clyde Mountain. Despite the complexity of the car shuffle, the walk was certainly worth the effort.

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