I recently hiked the New South Wales south coast’s heritage corn trail with a close friend Jason.
It is a through track being 12km one way. We had decided to park at one end of the trail and walk down the trail and back again for a total of 24km.
The weather was pretty near perfect when we set out, little did we know we would soon be caught in one of the largest storms I have witnessed.
The corn trail follows a clearly marked path from the top of the Clyde mountain to the head of the Bolero valley. The trail is quite difficult and steep, winding in and out of valleys before descending steeply down to the valley floor. I would recommend walking from top to bottom, and leaving a car at either end unless you are up for a seriously challenging ascent out of the valley.
We first heard the ominous sign of thunder in the distance when we were about 3/4 of the way down the track, this did not worry us overly much as we had both packed rain gear and were prepared for this scenario. 15 minutes later the storm struck, the amount of lighting striking in our near vicinity was equally awe inspiring and fear inducing at the same time. We decided to bunker down and set up the hoochie to wait until the storm had passed and for the rain to ease. Sitting under a small piece of plastic as one of the largest storms I have witnessed raged above us for near on two hours was an experience I will never forget. At first I was most worried about being struck by lighting, however as time went on I became more distracted by the fact that I was cold, freezing cold. Both of us decided that we did not want to spend the night cold and wet and miserable under a hoochie. The decision was made that as soon as we saw a gap in the storm we would bolt back to the car.
(Jase and I waiting out the storm under the hoochie)
The window of opportunity came, we immediately collected our gear and began the steep ascent of the Clyde mountain. As we neared the summit of the climb the storm rolled in again. This time we continued walking through the storm. Lighting was striking all around us, as close as a 100 metres. Then suddenly I was knocked off my feet by what felt like the earth splitting in two, I was lying on the ground still conscious but all I could see was an orange haze. This lasted for maybe a few seconds till my vision cleared and I stood up. The exact same thing happened to my friend who had been walking 1 metre in front of me at the time of the lighting strike. I think we received an aftershock of the lighting strike not a direct hit, I would most likely not be here to write this otherwise.
The rest of the hike passed quite uneventfully until we reached the small river we had crossed at the beginning of the hike. What had been a shallow ankle deep crossing was now a raging torrent up to chest height. We both managed to cross the river safely with minimal swimming involved. However we did find ourselves covered in leeches which is not a pleasant experience.
I would highly recommend walking the corn trail, it would be more pleasant as a one way trip starting from the top. This is the route I would advise unless you are up for a challenge and are quite fit.