Cathcart: 22 November 2014

GPS route of Cathcart Bluff

GPS route of Cathcart Bluff

This was to be a walk that got off to a bad start, but proved to surpass all my (very low!) expectations. Another night at work, and I raced off at 6. I wasn’t expecting either the drive or walk to be huge (2 hrs and maybe 2 hours each way for each), but wanted to be back early enough to repack for the following day, as I was down to lead a walk to Western bluff (that one was going to be much longer, with a 4 hr drive one way, and a 6-8 (or 9!) hr return walk).

Clouds on the way up.. they were more impressive than this, but I didn't get a chance to stop.

Clouds on the way up.. they were more impressive than this, but I didn’t get a chance to stop.

Driving along I enjoyed some very moody changing clouds, light and fluffy on top, dark and heavy underneath. I liked the metaphor. Probably a bit too much, and it was only in Kempton when I pulled over for petrol that I realised I didn’t have my wallet. What an idiot (ok, there were a few expletives inserted in that sentence that I’ve since removed). I had half a tank, which for me means about 200km. I checked the map, did some calculations. I might be able to get to the walk and back to Kempton, but still wouldn’t have enough to get home. Idiot!

Conversing… with new waratah flowers

Conversing… with new waratah flowers

Immensely annoyed at myself, I ignored a kind offer to wait for friends who would be passing in a little while on the way to a walk in the NE, and drove home. I half felt like ditching the plan, but by the time I’d located my wallet, got over the fact that I’d wasted 2 hrs driving, I figured I’d still have time for the walk. So off I drove again. The clouds were still there to keep me company, and as they slowly dispersed, so too did my anger and annoyance at myself (I don’t have a lot of patience for my own incompetence, inefficiency and waste).

Sweet reflections in a world of pink.. honestly, sweet to the taste!

Sweet reflections in a world of pink.. honestly, sweet to the taste!

This time, I had money for petrol at Kempton, and finally, by 10am, I was ready to start walking. I had about a 3km road walk to start with, relatively flat, and was kicking myself for not thinking of packing the bike (it would have been ideal!). Instead I thought about things as I walked, broke up the monotony by playing with macro and warratahs, and wondered what the walk would bring.

A boring road walk meant I had to find something to entertain me.. the macro came out, and I liked these leaves. Sometimes, it's all that's left. Old and damaged, but beautiful and deep.

A boring road walk meant I had to find something to entertain me.. the macro came out, and I liked these leaves. Sometimes, it’s all that’s left. Old and damaged, but beautiful and deep.

I knew little about it, and had assumed that once I got to the closest point on the road to the summit, I’d be off track and in scrub, and it didn’t look like such nice scrub to be in. So I dallied a bit (or a lot), and took a few photos of the glimpses of Blackwood Bluff that you got walking along the road.

The road.. somewhat unexciting! Take a bike if you can...

The road.. somewhat unexciting! Take a bike if you can…

On arrival at the point where I wanted to turn off, where my gps had a short bit of road branching off to the right (not very far at all, but it was better than nothing), I prepared myself for a scrub bash by taking rather a lot of time to photograph one very fat (or sick) grasshopper. But the time came to go, and so I set off. I wasn’t too surprised to find what might pass for an overgrown pad, but I wasn’t expecting the pink tape.. and then a couple of cairns!

My first glimpse, before I found the pad.. not looking forward to what I thought was going to be a scrub bash

My first glimpse, before I found the pad.. not looking forward to what I thought was going to be a scrub bash

Pure delight at an unexpected gift (and a pad through scrub is one of the best kind of gifts a bush walker can be given), and my mood lifted significantly. That the ‘pad’ was a little hard to follow, the markings intermittent in places, was only of concern in so far as it increased the chances of me walking off it. I figured that even if that happened, I was still better off than I’d expected.

One rather ill looking hopper

One rather ill looking hopper

But I was to be pleasantly surprised again, when after a little while my head clicked into gear, and I got used to what signs to look for. Looking at my feet, and the clear bit of pad before it disappeared into scrub helped, as looking higher up or further afield met only with a sea of green and brown, and no discernible ‘path’ forward. I got used to the twisting and turning, and started to enjoy myself.

Hey!!! A cairn.. and tape.. brilliant!

Hey!!! A cairn.. and tape.. brilliant!

Then another surprise. Walking along I heard movement in the scrub, but not the light quick movement of a wallaby. A solid, steady motion. I stopped and listened, then caught sight of the culprit, a not so little wombat, with a fine chocolate brown coat. I moved forward for a closer look, and he, oblivious to my presence, continued towards me, down through light scrub and rock. He came to within a few metres before realising I was there, and galloping (as wombats do!) away.

My wombat friend.. only a few metres away, just before he bolted.

My wombat friend.. only a few metres away, just before he bolted.

I smiled, and continued on. A few hundred metres from the top and I broke out onto scree, another gift for the rock monkey in me! Up I scrambled, and yes.. was again pleasantly surprised, this time with better than expected views. In fact, I’d all but decided that being a low peak, it was likely to have a scrubby summit with no views at all. Not exactly so! The views were, admittedly, better on this bit of the climb than on the very top, but that was somewhat irrelevant.

Wooo.. on the scree, and hello Blackwood Bluff!

Wooo.. on the scree, and hello Blackwood Bluff!

I paused to take them in, enjoy the increasingly present sun, and just be. But as always, the summit was calling, and I went in search. The summit region is composed of lots of ‘mini peaks’ of rocky towers, light scrub separating them. So I went to where my gps said the top was, and found a little cairn, but not much of a view. Then figured I’d better check another, and headed further west, to a summit my gps decided was slightly lower, but with open views out towards Drys Bluff.

High point no. 1

High point no. 1

All bases covered, it was time to head down in an easy and unconcerned manner, happy with all the highly surpassed expectations! An echidna or two to make me smile as I left, and I was home at the very civilised time of shortly after 3, ready to pack for the next days adventures.

High point no. 2 and the view out to Drys Bluff

High point no. 2 and the view out to Drys Bluff

All up: 9.3km, 3.15hrs, 318m ascent.

One last one of Blackwood Bluff, on the way out

One last one of Blackwood Bluff, on the way out

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