Having been walking solo for a bit over a year, and walking in general for a few months shy of two years, I figured it was about time I did my part, and start to give back a little to the bushwalking club that has essentially shaped the bushwalking part of me (which is a big part of me) into what it is today. I’ve been ‘leading’ private walks through a Facebook page, which basically involves me (or anyone else who wants to) whacking up a post saying I’m doing a walk to such and such, and whoever is free is welcome to come. But it’s not quite the same, as there isn’t the same level of responsibility. It’s also last minute, which doesn’t work for everybody, and is obviously only available to my Facebook friends (and I’m quite selective there).
So, after checking that I might make an ok leader, I took the plunge. I was offered wise advice to lead below my walking capability, and to maybe lead a walk I’d already done. I half took that on board, putting Burgess and Chapman on the program, as a hard 18km+ 1200m climb. At least I’d done it, even though it was in whiteout. It seemed fitting, as it was the first walk I did solo with my GPS, and I wouldn’t mind being there with some views. I also had a fair few bushwalking friends who hadn’t managed to get to one or other of the peaks, despite having tried.
But the best laid plans…. can always be destroyed by the weather! That’s the one downside to putting a walk on the program, you have no control over what the weather is doing. And I don’t like that. There’s nothing wrong with walking in the rain, it can be quite a pleasant experience as the mist closes in and your world becomes a little bubble of white fluff. But on a day walk, if it can be avoided, why not. Views are always better than whiteout, especially when that’s what you’ve come to see. So a flexible Plan B is always called for (I’ve been well trained, thanks Shaz!), so long as walk participants are equally flexible and ok with last minute changes. I was lucky in this regard, because even though two LWC members were coming along they were happy enough for me to make last minute changes.
When the weather forecast last Wednesday had forecasted lots of rain and wind and cloud down south on the Sunday, and rain pretty much all over the state I was starting to despair. By Thursday the northwest was looking more like showers , so Plan B was tentatively looking like Mount Arrowsmith and Calders Lookout, near Lake St Clair – far enough west to hopefully be out of the worst of the rain, but not so far that the drive was unjustified. I made the call. By Friday, the showers were isolated and clearing, and Saturday night, it was just meant to be cloudy. But still plenty of rain down at Burgess and Chapman. I figured even if it wasn’t perfect, it was much better than walking in solid rain all day, and I think everyone else agreed.
So, with a 6am start time from Granton, off we headed. We met up with the two LWC members at Derwent Bridge, and it was great to finally meet someone who I’d been in contact with, and whose walking blog I love reading, but had never actually met! A short drive took us to the King William tourist lookout on the left hand side of the road, where we parked our cars, kitted up, and started walking.
I believe there are a number of ways you can get to these two mountains, but I’d read on someone’s Facebook page a while back that they didn’t suggest following either the old Linda track, or using the nearby road, but to go this way. They’d done the trip in 5 hours, so I estimated 7 or so for our group of 10. I was delightfully surprised, just shy of shocked, to be starting the walk in lightly clouded skies, with a fair bit of blue pushing through. That turned to pure joy when the sun came out and started to warm the cold air (and my yellow fingers). And that was how the rest of the day was – no rain, lots of sun, and enough breeze to keep us from overheating thanks to the heat that button grass tends to radiate out.
The going was largely open, with the occasional patch of relatively easy to move through scrub. However because it was button grass all the way, it was a fair bit slower than usual, and took its toll over the course of the day, with the constant twisting and turning involved in doing the button grass dance (yes, it does make you dance.. ok, maybe stumble is the more appropriate descriptor). I can’t imagine what it must be like to do that with a something like Parkinsons, except that it must take a lot of courage and determination, and evoke in others nothing short of respect and admiration.
And the views, well, when you’re hoping not to be walking in rain, you’re usually happy to settle for cloud, and so I hadn’t even thought about views to be honest. It was pretty amazing to be hopping out of the car and seeing King William 1, Pitt and Milligan; and Ronald Cross and the Loddon Range right from the start. But then as we started walking our first mountain, Arrowsmith, popped into view, as did Mt Gell. As we gained even more height towards Arrowsmith’s summit, the entire King William Range opened out, as did the mountains at the south of the Overland Track (Rufus, Hugel etc). Throughout the course of the day we also had stunning views of Frenchmans, out to the north west and west coast ranges including the Eldon range, and even down south towards the pretty impressive looking Diamond Peak. All this while walking across the greeny, yellowy, orange sea of button grass, which contrasted beautifully with the blue sky.
s you can tell, it was a stunner of a day, and we were all very much in a relaxed state. We had a number of stops just to sit and talk and take the view in, and were never really in a rush. I’m not sure if that was the sun, or the views, or the pleasant company. Our LWC guests didn’t seem phased by our eccentricities, and they were welcomed warmly. I suspect it’s a club I’ll be joining one day in the near future!
Perhaps the hardest part of being a leader was having to stop the relaxed enjoyment on our second summit, and start the plod back to the cars – it seemed too early and too nice to want to leave, but we all had long drives to get home. I took the tail end again, leaving the route finding to a couple of the ‘young ones’ ( :p ). It’s quite a different experience to lead from behind, taking note of where people are and how they’re going, making sure we’re headed in the right general direction but not really worrying about minute details. Different, but also very enjoyable.
I now understand what organisers mean when they thank everyone who has come on their walk, because on the day it’s the people that make the walk what it is. As an organiser, you do very, very little. So thank you all for a lovely day out in another beautiful part of Tassie.
7.45 hrs, 562m ascent, 11.3km.