I’d had 8 hours sleep, albeit with several interruptions, but it was sleep all the same (more than I could say for the day before!), and yet for some reason I felt more tired. Perhaps a little of that was apprehension about leading the walk too. I’ve never had too much of a problem going on walks to places I haven’t been, either alone or with friends. But when it becomes an official club walk I feel a greater level of responsibility, both to keep people safe, and to get to our destination, in a reasonable time frame (even though I’m no less responsible on a private walk, or if I’m going solo). That involves balancing factors from participant numbers and experience, to walk terrain, distance, difficulty, weather etc etc. And when you’re going somewhere new, that you know very little about, with a few new faces, all of a sudden there’s rather a lot of things you don’t know, and can’t control (yes, there are times I do like to be in control ;)!).
At least this time the weather wasn’t going to stop us this time (severe weather warnings on 4 January this year had), though it promised to be cold, with a frost to start off with and a river crossing to make. The drive up was most deceptive, there sky was blue and the sun warm, and I thought we might be luckier than expected. But as usual, as we neared Liawenee the blue turned to white/grey, and the colour in the landscape covered by a dusting of frost/snow. We parked the cars and got out to a very bleak, flat land, with a biting wind. Yet it was as beautiful as it was wild, and was somehow appropriate.
There was no mucking around getting warm gear on, followed by jackets, and in some cases, over pants (for the wind more than the wet, in my case). Then we were off, the usual before walk chatter cut short by the cold. We walked together, but quite separately. And I drifted off with my own thoughts, occasionally catching the sound of other people’s chatter, though there was less of it than usual for a Pandani walk.
It wasn’t long before we came to the river we had to cross, and as the natural bridge I’d hoped we might find didn’t actually exist, we had no choice but to try and stay balanced on rocks that sat a few inches below the surface. The current was strong enough to make us take a little extra care, though the rocks not as slippery as they could have been. Charles’ walking pole and a helping hand or two saw everyone across safely – concern no. 1 sorted: a dip in the river for anyone would have called the trip off, that’s how cold it was.
We continued on, in a rough direction towards the left hand end of what appeared to be the ridge line under the cloud. Visibility was poor enough that we had limited views, but good enough that we could walk quite strung out, and so we did. People just pulled away whenever they felt like taking a photo or two, continuing along at their own leisure, but never falling too far behind, so as to avoid lengthy stops that would have people getting too cold.
As we neared the ridge, we happened across the old fence referred to in the Abels, and we paused to discuss which way to head up (still slightly limited visibility, though we made the right call). We headed for the dip, rather than taking the more direct, but possibly scrubbier and steeper option further to our right. As we made our way up the shallow valley, the first patch of blue sky appeared, then disappeared just as quickly. But more was to follow, and without even realising it the frost, snow and ice had disappeared, and greens and browns replaced the greys and whites.
The ridge was not at all what I’d expected. It was much less a ridge than a plateau, almost. We wandered amongst lichen topped rocks, brilliant green cushion plants and scoparia that must look beautiful when in flower, all the while nearing the summit at the far end. By this stage we could see it, on and off. We’d climbed very little noticeable height, and standing underneath the summit it was clear there wasn’t much left to climb either!
I was tired, and felt no summit suction, as I usually would, even when I was granted ‘permission’ to race off ahead. But the rock worked its magic, and though I was tired, I couldn’t help but move at a slightly faster pace. It was over almost as soon as I’d got into a rhythm, and there we were, standing amongst the four mounds that once held the trig in place.
Someone had asked me at the start of the walk if there was a trig, and I said yes, having remembered finding a photograph of it on the Survery Control Marks site. The photo’s still there, but apparently it pays to read the writing (it was taken down in 2005)!!! See http://surcom.dpiw.tas.gov.au/surcom/jsp/site/image_photo_summary.jsp?showMenu=no&mode=site&site_id=21770&site_pack_id=ST371&marks=21770.
Views were white, to start off with, and we huddled behind the rocky top, trying to escape the wind. Catherine took over Kim’s traditional role, and sung the sun song. It gradually worked, and we got some idea of the view towards Quamby, Mother Cummings Peak, and Bastion Bluff. The wind was freezing though, and two hadn’t made the final climb, so we didn’t take long to eat some lunch and start moving again. As we did the sun came out, much more promising now, and there was almost as much blue in the sky as grey.
As a result, the walk back was even more leisurely, with time for a lie down, and a number of lengthy stops to enjoy the sun. We even had a rainbow to put a smile on weary faces, and a ‘spring’ of water. Back over the river with no issues, and into warm clothes just as the drizzle started and shortly before it got dark. Fortunately the drive home was short, I was struggling to stay awake.
All up: 19.1km, 8 hours, 366m ascent.
Now, for the very unenjoyable task of trying to restore a rather sick computer (I’m taking after you Bec! First my phone, and now my computer.. not happy!)..