We had the two extremes in road conditions today from main highway to jungle track and finished off with a swim in Emerald Pool.
As per usual we got off the highway as quickly as possible. The route chosen by Google Maps didn’t look unusual and had been excellent for most of the trip. However, Emerald Pool is more remote than most stops we have chosen.
The first sign the roads weren’t in such great condition was the fact we were riding on a good sealed road that stopped and transformed into a rocky, heavily eroded track.
After a couple of kilometres the track turned back to good sealed road and we enjoyed a good downhill descent. As we were riding down, Patrick noticed that we should have taken a side road, that looked like a goat track. We stopped on the side of the road and had a conference on what to do. Choice one, continue on the road and add 5 to 10 kms. Choice two, go back to the goat track and hope it gets us through. To my surprise, Julie and Robert were bullish and wanted to give the track a go, so Patrick and I were happy to follow their lead.
The track was okay to start with, but as we progressed it became narrower and more eroded. As we rode past the local houses we got very animated responses from the locals, which should have been a sign of what was to come. After about 6 kms we came to a stream with a couple of crossings.
It was a pleasant break and a good way to cool off, but it was unclear which way we should go. There were three different options but after scouting them out we were still unsure. All the options led to a house, but didn’t seem to go any further. The man at the house in the first option didn’t speak, but indicated with his arms crossed together to make an X, that there was no way through. The second option took us to an older couple’s house who were more friendly and wanted to help, but the language barrier was too hard and their property was the end of the road. I did show where we want to go and the man tried to explain how to get there, so we thought we would try option 3.
Option 3, had a sign (see picture below), but looked very overgrown, but it was our last chance before having to back track. It was way too overgrown to ride so Julie and I pushed the bikes in the hope it would get better. We sent Robert up ahead to scout out the track to to make sure it was passable. After about 500 metres it was only getting worse and I didn’t think it was worth pushing the bikes any further, so Julie and Patrick stayed with the bikes and Robert went ahead to see if it got any better. After another 500 metres we were getting further off the Google Maps track, so I knew we were on the wrong path, so we headed back. When we got back to the bikes we made the decision to turn back.
As we were turning the bikes around the couple from Option 2 appeared with their three dogs out of the jungle. We got into a discussion again about where to go, but still couldn’t get past the language barrier. Robert suggested we ask him to take us, so I indicated to him that we would follow him. He understood so we retraced back to the sign. At that point they indicated we should be able to get through, but he seemed to be indicating Option 1, which seemed to be a dead end. I asked him to take us, which he happily obliged.
After walking back to Option 1 (about 500 metres) we walked past the original house (the Option 1 man no where to be seen) and the man indicated the path through an overgrown wet land of sword grass and scrub. I was pretty sceptical, but because he had been so friendly I thought we should give it a go. According to Google Maps we had about 3 kms to go until we hit another road, so worst case we could push the bikes that distance or turn back.
That 3 kms was a hard slog and we spent most of the time pushing the bikes through an overgrown track and across little streams. The boys were amazing and we all operated as a well oiled team. They scouted ahead and removed dead branches and helped push the bikes up hills. I can’t believe how accurate Google Maps path was because at times there was no visible path or multiple paths to chose from, but by continually checking to see that we were on the correct path we made it back to civilisation.
After a long day we finally made it to Emerald Pool and had a nice relaxing swim and cool off. We didn’t even get into our swimming gear, but just jumped in with what we had been wearing while cycling.
Check out my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/849235022/