Knowing that I was going on the Pandani walk to Mother Cummings Head on the Saturday, and it being my birthday on the Monday, I had the perfect excuse (like I need one) to stay up north for two days and have some fun exploring other mountains. The weather was looking not too shabby, few showers on the Sunday, cloudy on the Monday, so I planned to check out Tyndall, Gieke and Sedgewick.
They’d been on my ‘list’ for some time, after having seen some photos on the bushwalking forum. The late finish on the Sunday though, and me having been up since 9pm Friday night working then walking, meant that the planned walk up to camp on the plateau turned into a drive to Lake Plimsol and a night in the back of the car under a full moon. We were both too tired to pitch tents, and as I got into my sleeping bag and checked the time, I realised I’d been going solid for 24 hours, on not much sleep. No wonder I was tired! But I still had energy for a bit of excitement before sleeping – I discovered that static electricity is visible as small flashes in the dark!! That was kind of cool!
Despite the slight discomfort of the back seat (I hadn’t even bothered to inflate my mat), I slept the whole night, waking slightly to turn when the aches got too much. Shortly after 6 I was up and ready to go, albeit a tad stiff and weary. I went for a wander, climbed a few small hills to check out the view and take some photos in the morning light, then it was back to the car, pack everything up and into the pack, and drive to the start of the walk.
We headed off at 7.30, though I’m not sure what we were doing, because it took us nearly 30 minutes to walk to and sign the log book! But the slow, relaxed pace continued, neither of us too fussed, given we had all day to make camp and wander over to Gieke. I had to save one mountain for Monday so I could open a birthday card from my awesome sister while sitting on the summit. Sedgewick was only going to have been possible if we’d made it up on top the night before, or if we were going to push. But the mood from the day before was still hanging around, and it was definitely one of peaceful relaxation and enjoyment. This was not a ‘peak bagging’ trip in that sense, and that was quite appropriate.
So we took our time, and enjoyed the views countless times as we plodded up the 700 metre climb, chatting about rocks and all sorts of other things. Rocks had to feature, given Bec was on swot vac and she’s studying rocks ;).. besides, it was rather nice to be walking amongst conglomerate instead of the usual dolerite, and I was interested in how it was formed. So frequent were our pauses to take in the view northwest/west over Reed and Dundas and out to sea and our chatting that it took us about 3 hours to get on top! Whoops!! The logbook container has etched onto its lid that Tyndall (400 m to the north of where you pop out on top) was a 3.5 hour RETURN walk… well…
Anyway, we headed straight for the campsite described in the Abels, and it was perfect. The flattest, softest ground I’ve ever camped on, surrounded by beautiful views, with abundant pools of water to swim in or drink from.. oh, and a chorus of frogs all day and night to sing you to sleep!
The tents were quickly erected, and we had a bite to eat, before donning seemingly weightless daypacks and heading off in the direction of Gieke. The views only continued to open up as we wandered along, and I set eyes on Eldon Peak for the first time… uh-oh.. there’s another mountain calling my name! We also got to check out the approach to Sedgewick, and I was satisfied it would be a good little walk for a later date, with one scrubby band to negotiate.
Onwards we went.. having a number of private, and sometimes shared ‘Oh wow’ moments as the views unravelled. The approach to Gieke is quite interesting, as you’re walking along a flatish plateau, which climbs slowly as you approach, then bends round to the left, and as you get closer you realise the right side of the plateau starts to fall away, quite a fair bit sharper than you’d imagine, leaving quite an interesting and unique looking peak given the right distance and angle. There’s just a little bit of a climb at the end, to make you feel like you’ve actually been ‘up’ something, and more awesome views from the summit.
We sat there and chatted some more, munching on yummy ginger cake (ta mum!), until the freshness in the wind and the threatening rain drove us back to the tents. We were relieved to find them standing where we’d left them, the forecasted ‘light winds’ being a tad stiffer at height (given my experience on the Frankland range I think I’ll always have that feeling every time I return to find my tent still there).
We drunk soup (ta Bec) then decided it was time to read some Kindle.. then the weather decided the rest for us! Rain and a fast descending mist kept us in our tents, and I ended up dozing off, waking and eating a bar or two (I’m the laziest walker ever, and I don’t like to cook in my vestibule), reading some more, then sleeping all night long! I didn’t get the sunset, or even the sunrise I was so keen on, but my sleeping bag birthday present was amazing.. I wore less than I’ve ever worn, and was nice and warm all night long! That’s just cut back on weight for the Western Arthurs this summer :)!!
So the next morning we weren’t in any rush to get moving, given the mist was still down nice and low (mental note: cloud means whiteout when you’re camping up high, duh!). So we packed leisurely, and headed off when we were ready. We dropped our packs near the edge of the plateau, and made off into the mist towards the waypoint I had marked as the peak on my GPS. It seemed rather flat when we got there, with no sign it might be a high point (a look at my GPS now that I’m back says it was the highest point in metres above sea level), so we wandered north, spotting a possible cairn in the mist. We did come across the trig point, VERY clearly marked (with survey markers at all four corners), though there was no actual trig. It was definitely worth walking up here, as there were some very tantalising misty views down the cliff face that I hadn’t been aware was even there!
I got to open my birthday card (great big smile), eat some snakes, read lots of nice messages on FB from friends, and take in the view. Then it was a matter of moving once we’d cooled down, and we were back at the packs quite fast. The walk up Tyndall is not much of a climb at all.
Donning our packs again, we headed back down, reluctantly, as neither of us really wanted the walk to end. Bec at least had a few more days of west coast exploring up her sleeve, I had to return to go to work at 1am the following morning… Despite dragging our heels, we were back at the cars 1.40 hrs later, with enough time to have a delicious lunch at “The Track” (at the old train station, thanks again Bec!).
We parted ways, and I enjoyed the drive through the mountains..
As I lay in the dark that night, I thought of just how special the day had been. Happily content with life, I said a silent thank you to all the good people I know and am lucky enough to call friends.
All up: 18.2km, 1229m ascent.