Melrose is Australia's answer to Leadville, Colorado. Towering above it is one of the state's larger peaks - Mt. Remarkable, at 995m.
Although it doesn't look that prominent at all, it is still a good 700 metres above the town, with a 6.1km trail to the top.
Dad, Paula, Benno and I drove down on Thursday afternoon, checking into the cottage pretty late before smashing down a simple but incredible dinner of potatoes, coleslaw, brocolli and salmon.
Despite the darkness of the night, Remarkable loomed large behind the cabin. Equally was it weighing on my conscience. I sorely wanted and felt a duty to run up it, but with four days of solid running and mountain climbing in the bank for that week already, I didn't feel like my body agreed. The feet, ab and calves were pretty damn sore.
Up on Friday morning in the dim light before dawn, hesistating when leaving the house.
Just run on flat ground...Towards the town.
As the sun crested the edge of the visible earth, I made my way along the dirt road to Melrose, maaaaing at the sheep in the paddocks beside. Onto the tarmac, through the town, TRAILS to the right, through a campground and up.
I have been reflecting recently on how it is a little bit dangerous to run nothing but hills. Your body becomes so used to chugging up and bombing down that you just never feel good when running on flat ground. So, an easy run frequently turns into a mountainous few hours. This can be a bit risky when it comes to injury.
Reach the trail-head, and up some more. Single-track; my favourite. The gradient was gentle and constant, the trail well-groomed, the surrounding land precarious and rocky.
200m down. 400m down. 600m down.
Pretty soon, the surrounding plains opened up before my eyes as I crossed steep fields of scree and the trail became more rocky.
3km down. 4km down. 1 mile to go.
4wd track, more rocks and a steeper angle slowed me right down, but in little time a massive climbable cairn appeared in the middle of this lofty desert mountain. A few timid steps to the top, and I was there. Beautiful.
Running up a big mountain gives you this incredible feeling of internal strength that is so uplifting and sustaining. It isn't the arrogant feeling of "I can bench x amount", rather everything inside you just saying "yes, this is right, all is well".
The descent was nothing short of awesome - bombing over roots and rocks as fast as manageable, treading lightly on the scree slopes and finding random rocks to climb every-so-often.
And then the flat. Ugh.
It felt like the tail-end of a 50k as I turned left onto the dirt road back to the cabin. Probably a hint to reign in the mileage/vertical.
Later in the day, we headed to Alligator Gorge for a bit of a hike; best described by the picture at the top. I was halfway through offending Benno and he was about to give me the middle finger.
Still living the dream.