Mueller: 31 August 2014

Mount Mueller GPS route

Mount Mueller GPS route

Mueller and I have history. It was one of the first few ‘nice’ mountains that I remember setting eyes on in my ‘bushwalking life’, sitting atop the Needles with three good friends, and deciding that one day I’d go there. The first chance was a HWC walk, but it clashed with another walk I was less likely to get a second chance to go on. The next time I was ready to lead it as a walk, I even had a key from Forestry, but the weather turned and we settled on climbing the mighty Brown Mountain instead.

Jess and Greg, the three-legged pair

Jess and Greg, the three-legged pair

And so Mueller gained even more respect in my eyes, and I knew the day I got to climb it would be pretty cool. When Graham put it on the Pandani program, I was excited. Another page to write in the Mueller story. It was with this excitement, but also a kind of acceptance that what would happen would happen, that I waited to see what the weather would bring, and whether we’d get there or not.

After a stint of overgrown bauera to get through, the track opens out, and then the views follow suit. Anne, Fedder, PB!!

After a stint of overgrown bauera to get through, the track opens out, and then the views follow suit. Anne, Fedder, PB, Weld (R-L)!!

The weather was perfect all week, and I’m sure it wasn’t only me with crossed fingers that it’d hold out. Later in the week it looked like a front would come through on the Sunday afternoon, but we were still going. By Saturday morning though, the forecast was more positive, and the front looked like it would hold off until Sunday night. Perfect! I was really looking forward to this one.

Mueller and Fossil Lake.. Yep, I already like this mountain!

Mueller and Fossil Lake.. Yep, I already like this mountain!

A group FB message titled ‘Mueller mongrels’ set the tone for the walk, and Graham’s instructions added further challenge to the task. Greg and Jess were to do the walk as a three-legged race to ensure Greg kept up with the rest of us, and Bec, Ben, Bruce and myself were to be blindfolded and walking backwards! I figured I might get a slight reprieve if I could prove my worth as assistant navigator.

Down at the lake.. some might see ugly.. but something about it speaks of beauty to me, and I try to capture just a little bit of that essence

Down at the lake.. some might see ugly.. but something about it speaks of beauty to me, and I try to capture just a little bit of that essence

A 6.30am meet up at Granton, and we were off, catching up with Bec and uni, Ben and babies. I settled in to the drive; it was just really good to be out, and even better to be out with good friends. A successful rendezvous with two members Launceston in Maydena (and a sigh of relief, last time hadn’t been so successful), and we were off again. The drive was short, a right onto the Styx road, then on to Mueller road, and with slightly flawed navigation from yours truly we arrived at the end of the road just before 8.30.

Climbing up from Fossil Lake. One of those climbs that looks impressive from below, but is really quite nice.

Jess climbing up from Fossil Lake. One of those climbs that looks impressive from below, but is really quite nice.

Gear went on, and we stood around joking and laughing as Greg pulled out and donned his newest bit of headwear – a pig beanie. Last set of photos I’d seen he had been wearing a cow one, apparently his wife Shelly had thought the pig was more appropriate!! Not quite as hideous as the gorilla Graham had pulled out on Nevada, but close enough :)! Jess also produced out a recently punctured bike tyre that she’d fashioned to function as a leg tie for her and Greg, and they set off, making good three-legged pace… and walked straight past the start of the walk!

A seedpod. I like that being out walking takes me back to all the things I did, remember, and took delight in as a kid. Interesting seedpods were a good thing to take for show and tell :).

A seedpod. I like that being out walking takes me back to all the things I did, remember, and took delight in as a kid. Interesting seedpods were a good thing to take for show and tell :).

A back track, the tyre left for collection on the return, and we plunged into the bauera. Ok, so there was a track, but the first part of it was overgrown enough for your knees to know about it (especially when trying to scrub the mud off in the shower back at home – on that note I’m glad I don’t do the type of job where people might look at my knees!). We started off walking quite close together, but soon found our own rhythms and spaced out.

On the ridge. Jess takes a front row seat

On the ridge. Jess takes a front row seat. I think about the days I’d been no where, and every time I went out 

I chatted a bit, then found myself walking alone, just being. It was good, a bit of what I needed, and a glance out to my left had me smiling. There, poking through the trees, was Mt Anne, and behind and to the left, Fedder, and a little further around, PB. A few favourite mountains, sitting out there as if to say hello, we’re here, and welcome home. I said my hellos then moved to catch up with the others, excitedly asking if they’d seen Fedder!

Graham's apple core get's people moving, and has Ben looking for a way to pay him back!

Graham’s apple core get’s people moving, and has Ben looking for a way to pay him back!

After a brief regroup we moved off, heading for Fossil Lake, and a very short walk round the corner had us stopped again. This time by the view of our mountain, Mueller, with the teal coloured lake nestled at its feet. Down at the lake edge grey rock, brown earth, and silver skeleton fingers and their darker reflections stole my attention as the others continued on, drawn by the mountain.

But first.. one last look…!

But first.. one last look…!

I followed after a bit, stopping to take photos, but otherwise eager to get to the lip of the ridge to see the views that would be revealed. They were as good as expected, or better, and it was pretty much understood without need to speak it that we were having another stop. Different people wandered in different directions, to find their own rocks to stand on, take a photo or two, or have just a bit of quiet time. Greg’s pig got a bit mischievous and went snuffling in people’s ears, and when he thought it was about time to move Graham pegged an apple core at Ben, who was checking out the views with Jess.

Snow fights ruled the day.. this part is called stand off.. Graham attempts to use his camera as a white flag while Ben skips out of the way and up hill.

Snow fights ruled the day.. this part is called stand off.. Graham attempts to use his camera as a white flag while Ben skips out of the way and up hill.

That got us moving, but not before Jess spied and made use of a nearby snow drift. The first of many snowball fights ensued, and much laughter was had. Greg came away with an earful of snow, and the rest of us racked up a few more scores to settle. The start of great fun…!

A short climb up scree, and Ben finds the slightly lower summit of Mueller East

A short climb up scree, and Ben finds the slightly lower summit of Mueller East

We figured we’d better not hold the others up too much, and made the short climb up scree onto the open alpine ridge proper. A few wandered over the Mueller East (not the highest high point) and pretty much we all took in the views yet again. Words don’t do the enormity of it justice, even photos don’t quite suffice (so you’d better just go see for yourself!).

And then the ridge walk begins.. pure enjoyment.. anyone feel like skipping yet?

And then the ridge walk begins.. pure enjoyment.. anyone feel like skipping yet?

Though I’ve done a lot of walking in the region, and therefore seen the views from nearby mountains, there’s something about Mueller (perhaps its solitary nature, a distance away from any other great mountains) that means the views seem much wider, more expansive, and the number and status of the mountains and ranges you can see is hard to beat from anywhere else. It’s a definite favourite.

Louise pushes on, Ben and Graham chat and laugh.

Louise pushes on, Ben and Graham chat and laugh.

As if the mountain knew just what the walker needed, it provided us a lovely little stroll across the ridge that allowed us to feed on views of blue layered ranges, drawing energy, refreshing tired minds and bodies. It seemed to be just what a number of us needed! The walking was temporarily and really quite frequently interrupted by a couple of wedgies, who had made their first appearance as we’d headed up from Fossil Lake.

Two wedgies stop us in our tracks, several times throughout the day, and fill us with delight at their skilful dancing on the winds

Two wedgies stop us in our tracks, several times throughout the day, and fill us with delight at their skilful dancing on the winds

They came and went, stopping most of us in our tracks, heads turned to the skies, watching as the two mates played, teased and danced with one another. It was beautiful to watch, and I shared a smile or two with others over their presence and antics. It struck me as interesting that their behaviour was a reflection of or complement to our own, or maybe it was just something about the place that invited playful uninhibited enjoyment.

Scattered, walking as one but also separately

Scattered, walking as one but also separately

We had a short drop to a saddle ahead, before the final, very attractive looking scramble over dolerite to the summit. I was excited, and as we started down Ben, who was behind me, asked if I was feeling the suction. I said no, not just yet, though I would be when we were on that ridge. What I was feeling was a happy freedom, like wanting to stretch out my arms and fly (run, seeing as I haven’t mastered the flying business).

And there lies the high point.. getting excited now!

And there lies the high point.. getting excited now!

His reply was simple.. so do (or something along those lines). I did. Arms out, we ran/danced/flew down, swerving round the corners of the very not straight pad (I do like windy pads for this kind of thing), feeling completely free, very much alive and in the moment leaping over a nice sized shrub. Ben’s delighted laughter from behind and an appropriate comment told me he felt a similar thing. A moment later we’d reached the flat of the saddle and I jogged to a walk with the biggest smile on my face.

Louise keeps on moving, down into the saddle before the final climb. Ben and I fly down some time later!

Louise keeps on moving, down into the saddle before the final climb. Ben and I fly down some time later! A bet was laid between Graham and Ben as to whether or not I’d climb that rocky bit on the right.

We started up, and I took interest in the solid wide pillar of rock on the right hand end of the ridge. I pondered climbing it, and told Ben I’d save it for the way back.. the summit was calling!! The final little scramble (not too hard at all) was fun, and then we were there! A few photos, but the end of the ridge was calling, so I headed over. I had a little peace and quiet, but soon discovered that rock monkeys must perform on demand. A tribute to Shaz with an attempt at Karate Kid ‘crane’ pose on the highest tip of rock (yes, in the wind too), a few leaps across rocks, and I’d earned my keep for the day.

The final scramble.. and this rock seemed to whisper different things to everyone who passed, as we all took photos of it, even though we walked by at quite different times!

The final scramble.. and this rock seemed to whisper different things to everyone who passed, as we all took photos of it, even though we walked by at quite separate times!

A snuffling sound, then the pig made an appearance, climbing up over the edge of the rocks. More summit/ridge/rock fun ensued, and we eventually gathered together for a group photo. When I thought it was just about over, Graham upped the ante. I’d mentioned a week or so ago my desire to practice doing headstands so I could do one on a dolerite pillar on top of a mountain. When he first bent over and put his head on the rock I thought he was praying to Mecca, but he wasn’t facing west. It took a while to realise just what he was doing.

Louise and Ben on the summit.. just a bit happy?

Louise and Ben on the summit.. just a bit happy?

How dare he! The challenge was definitely set!! I didn’t have my beanie with me like he did, so I borrowed Greg’s pig (not much padding, sadly though) and did my best.. not great, and not without some very close spotting by Greg and Ben (fair enough, it was rather windy, and I had just given them a bit of a scare with a slip on black lichen right on the edge). But it was worth a laugh, and I secretly promised to go home and practice!!

From the ridge at the very end, looking back to the summit.

From the ridge at the very end, looking back to the summit.

All that hard work, and it was time for lunch. I wasn’t really hungry though, and made a half hearted attempt to get something down, but the views and a few more photos were more interesting, and I soon gave up. Lunch was followed by an interesting treat from Bec, a new Marvellous Creations flavour that contained sherbet, and Jess was to discover the fun way!

Pig joins monkey.. Mueller East sits behind.

Pig joins monkey.. Mueller East sits behind.

We couldn’t stay forever and started to make our way back along the ridge. Another pause at a few small patches of snow as missiles flew back and forth once again. When we got to the end I hesitated, wondering whether I had time to scramble up the end little knob.. Ben hadn’t brought it back up, and I figured he’d forgotten, but thought what the hell, I could catch up later if need be. But when it was clear I’d decided to go, he yelled out to Graham, drawing his attention to me. My initial reaction was one of puzzlement, was Ben ‘dobbing me in’? A moment or two later Ben clarified the matter. The two had placed a bet as to whether or not I’d go!! Cheeky little buggers..!

Graham on Mueller summit

Graham on Mueller summit

A few fun moves and I was up, visited the cairn on top, then came back down. The others had kept on moving, with Ben staying behind to make sure I could get back down. He paid for it though, as it provided Jess the perfect opportunity to nick off with his pack.

Me, responding to the initial challenge!

Me, responding to the initial challenge! Photo courtesy of Jess McDonald, pink pig head protection thanks to Greg Robertson 😉

After a short search around, then the discovery that not only did Jess have it, but someone had come up with the idea to scatter a dry bag here, one there, and a rain jacket tied to a shrub a little further on…! Ben laughed, found a bit of snow, then headed down to gather his gear. An innocent walk over to the others, then a quick move saw the full handful of snow find its way down the back of Jess’ neck!

Fooling around.. it's what we do best

Fooling around.. it’s what we do best!

More mucking around, a bit of a sit down, but as always, we had to move on. We didn’t get far, the short clamber up scree to make the other ridge, and the wedgies were back. We stood and watched as they flew off north together, gone for the day. Back at the other end of the ridge, as we started to descend, Fossil Lake came into view, photos were taken and after starting off once again I was amazed at how a feeling, a view.. a moment… can affect individuals as if they were one. Something invisible, unspoken brought 6 of us to a stop, and we stood there on the scree, looking out at the view. It wasn’t so much of a stop, more of a pause, to take one final breath of mountains in. And then it was gone, the spell broken, and down we continued.

Might as well have fun, if you've come all that way?!

Might as well have fun, if you’ve come all that way. Besides, some of us need an outlet for the way the mountains make us feel.

Only so far as a decent sized snow drift.. of course! We had the biggest snow fight of the day, Ben and Greg had the upper hand being uphill, but Jess, Graham and myself made up for that in skill ;)! Well…. one can bend the truth a little, no? All was going quite well and fairly until a certain someone, defected, and attacked yours truly.

Looking kind of northish from the summit.. Mt Field West, Needles, Wylds etc.

Looking kind of northish from the summit.. Mt Field West, Wherretts, Needles, Wylds etc.

Bad idea though, I had the upper ground and was only a metre or two away, so payback was cold and deadly! Greg also got another earful when he decided to go for the all in attack and got a bit too close. A lot of laughter and an unspoken truce (well…temporary ceasefire) and we moved to catch up to the others.

Bec with her peeps on the summit

Bec with her peeps on the summit

We had a slightly tense 10 minutes as we temporarily lost track of Louise and Bruce, who had descended a different way to the way we’d come up, without anyone being aware of it, but quickly worked that out of the system with a game of frisbee down by the lake. The reflections grabbed me again, and I couldn’t help but take a few more photos.

The summit cairn was cool, balancing like we had on rock.. Jess stands in just the right position!

The summit cairn was cool, balancing like we had on rock.. Jess stands in just the right position!

The remainder of the walk was less scenic, but we made it go really rather fast with another war of hakea nuts. Brilliant when you’re walking in a line, no one knows quite who threw what. Greg learnt pretty fast not to bag out poor aim, and Graham decided to see just how hard us girls could throw. Ben of course was wise, and took the rear most position from which he had absolute control. I learnt pretty fast that anything aimed back up the hill was easily caught and pegged straight back down!

Heading back down.. hmmm.. not in any rush!

Heading back down.. hmmm.. not in any rush!

And so the day ended. Fresh excitement and anticipation had been replaced with perhaps slightly tired but very much contented peacefulness. It had been another day with great friends, much laughter and the simple and refreshing beauty of being in the mountains.

Ben is the master of soaking it all up.

Ben is the master of soaking it all up.

All up: 12.2km, 911m ascent, 7.45 hours (with all stops, snow and hakea fights, and other general enjoyment!).

Incoming!!! Another interlude as cold white missiles fly

Incoming!!! Another interlude as cold white missiles are sent flying

So it was a very relaxed walk, this one.. Jess is still recovering from Ben's handful of snow down her back!

So it was a very relaxed walk, this one.. Jess is still recovering from Ben’s handful of snow down her back!

Just to prove we did do some walking!

Just to prove we did do some walking!

And rock scrambling..

And rock scrambling..

And yes.. lots of ridge gazing ;)

And yes.. lots of ridge gazing 😉

Oh the mountains and ridges, painted in shades of blues.. look closely and there's even Frenchmans there!

Oh the mountains and ridges, painted in shades of blues.. look closely and there’s even Frenchmans there!

Back at the lake, I'm a tad reflective..

Back at the lake, I’m a tad reflective..

But Ben and Jess have more energy. The frisbee is out, and a few more of us join in one by one.

But Ben and Jess have more energy. The frisbee is out, and a few more of us join in one by one, under the watchful eye of Mueller.

 

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2 thoughts on “Mueller: 31 August 2014

  1. Dear gorgeous bec. I just wanted to write and say how much of an inspiration you are in getting out there amongst it and even alone on some pretty amazing locales south of nowhere. I look forward to each new post and appreciate your blog and hope to one day travel to the same places you’ve been. Already conquered mt wedge and ossa but not as fast as mighty bec. Your images are glorious, emotive and have a great added advantage in telling your tale. I can cut my anxiety down about heading out myself when I can visualise where I am going 😉 your candour this week I can completely understand. Wilderness whispers to us but doesn’t judge and that alone time is a requirement from the hectic lives we now lead. Thank you for your blog, your stories, your images and for being true you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your really lovely words! It means a lot to me to know that you get those things out of reading about my experiences, and is confirmation and further motivation for me to continue writing about them. A lot of close friends have inspired me to do what I do, and it’s nice to know I’m somehow passing a little of that on to others :)!

      Like

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