So, I’d had a bad week at work, including breaking an expensive and important piece of machinery, which involved a few extra hours and a lot of hard work, and by Saturday afternoon I was exhausted, but everything was back to normal and all of a sudden I had Sunday arvo, Monday and Tuesday free and no plans.
After work on the Sunday I was going to see Despicable Me 2 with friends – adults and kids, not sure which I was! That was a bit of fun, but I’m greedy and wanted even more fun. So I decided to be just a little crazy, which wasn’t really THAT crazy, and head up to Cradle afterwards until Tuesday. A Facebook post recruited an equally crazy friend, who happens to go by the same name as me (must be something about common traits in people with the same name), so after the movie I drove over to her house, and we headed up together.
We arrived safe and sound (despite some frosty roads) at the Dove Lake car park, ready to start walking sometime after 7 pm. This was my first glimpse of Cradle up close, and it, and the other mountains nearby, had me letting out random whoops of joy (yes, kid-in-candy-store style). Just as well we were the only two mad enough to be out that night!
But it was a beautiful night. The moon was out, and we walked part of the track without head torches. There was no wind, so it was really quite comfortable, and it was so so quiet and still (except for all the noise we (ok ok, I) made!). As we walked along everything glittered with a sprinkling of frost. It really was like walking in a winter wonderland… including the patches of track that had completely frozen over, and sent us sliding on our bums a few times! But all we could do was laugh, it was just a perfect night, and suddenly didn’t seem so crazy at all.
We arrived at the hut at 10, so it had been a nice easy pace. The next morning after a restless few hours sleep, we woke at 5 and headed off up to Barn to catch the rising sun. We passed Emmett on the way, which looks like an easy off track walk, saved for another day.
As the sunrise approached, and we neared Barn Bluff, the moon (which happened to be the ‘supermoon’ everyone was talking about) started to set… so very beautiful. We spent a little while watching the sun chase the moon, casting orange and pinks over the mountains around us, and then the moon had vanished.
Se eventually snapped out of our reverie, and headed up Barn. Bec let me run ahead, having been up before, and understanding my need and want of finding out what’s on top, and having a few moments alone on the summit, just being with the mountains and the views.
Up to this point, we had rough ideas of some of the other peaks we could have climbed on the trip, and deciding we were up for a bit more of a challenge, we thought we’d head over to the very unremarkable (from a distance) Inglis.. which is actually quite a nice walk, save one small band of scoparia, and a bit more scrub if you go the wrong way up the forest (we did find a nice open way back down thankfully!). Oh, and some very nice views!!
So we headed back down Barn, and being lazy cut across a bit of scree to get to the low scrub, where we stumbled across a cairned pad. We followed this round the side of Barn, then descended into very light scrub, which had plenty of pads through it. We tended to stay on the east side of the ridge and that worked really nicely.
We broke out as it flattened and still had easy walking up to a tiny bump, and again we stuck slightly easterly, where there were paths with ‘pad like characteristics’ but the scrub was very minimal in most places. Over the top of that it was more open walking, until we started to drop off. There, there was a band of gum trees with a fair bit of scoparia in them.. we avoided staying to the east there, and dropped off more sharply to the west where the gums were most sparse. We opted to stay on this route on the way back because although there was dense-ish scoparia which took some getting through for about 30-50 metres (waist to head high for a 5’3″ person), it seemed to be the shortest route through it. Staying higher (to the south/east) looked worse, though I think the Abels recommends this way.
You walk through mid-calf stuff (easier if you stay higher – further south, which we did on the way back, passing near to some “pandani people”, but we stayed lower on the way there cos we wanted water from a little tarn) then get to fury divide. The divide has some scoparia, but there are sections where you can avoid most of it.
When we came out, we should have stuck to the mid-calf stuff, and headed south sooner rather than later, resisting the tendency to go west straight for the peak (which you can’t actually see by this stage). If you get it right, you avoid all the major scrub. If you don’t it doesn’t matter too much, it is get-through-able, just takes more time and effort. Can you gess which way we went on the way up??! But if you do get it right, like we did on the way back, you skip the scoparia (go to the south of it I think) and end up walking up nice open forest, mostly myrtle from memory. The difference between our paths on the way up and back was only 15-30 metres, but it was so much easier!
We popped out of the forest relatively fast, and there was a very decent pad for a short section. Then it was a matter of finding our own way up to the top, which we could now see clearly. We avoided going round to the right, cos it looked like there were some small cliffy sections. I headed slightly to the south, cos it looked less steep, and there was no scoparia (I was in shorts, and my knees were already complaining!), while Bec headed straight up. We both found pads, mine definitely had a footprint or two along it. Bec had more scoparia to deal with, and took 10-15 minutes longer to get up. We headed down the way I went up, and Bec agreed it was probably the better way.
There’s a cairn right on the end you arrive at, though the coordinates I had in my GPS said the high point was a bit to the west. It’s hard to tell really when you’re up there which is higher. It’s a nice little spot for some lunch and a rest! We couldn’t afford to stay long, having already pushed back our ‘turn around time’ :p!
It was shortly after 2 when we left the summit, and we knew we just had to keep plodding back. So we did.. it was long and tiring, now that there was no summit to spur us on. At least it was nice avoiding one of the two scrubby sections, and after the second we knew we were right, even though we had a fair bit of up to get through. As we headed up the last bit of light scrub with pads through it before popping out below Barn the sun started to set, casting nice light over everything all over again. It was a good excuse to stop, rest and take delight in everything about where we were again.
By the time we were sidling back round Barn, things were getting pretty dark, and while we stayed on the cairned pad it got rather hard to follow in the dark after where we’d intersected it that morning. So we had a couple of hundred metres finding our way in the dark through very low scrub and scree, and were glad to hit the track. It was just before 6 by this stage, and we were rather tired, so it was heads down and ‘just walk’. You can imagine my surprise when I happened to glance up and out to our right (east) and saw an orange glowing ball. I thought I was seeing things, thinking hang on, the sun can’t be rising again. Took a second or two to realize it was actually the moon! I’ve never seen it so orange as it was then. It did make us both smile, despite our exhaustion.
We got back to the hut at 8.20, 2.5 hours later, and were so glad to find some other walkers had already arrived and had the fire going! It was toasty warm, so all we did was eat and sleep.. and sleep we did, very soundly! It was only when I got home and looked at the gps route that I discovered we’d walked 25km, over 12 of which were off track, in 10 minutes short of 15 hours. No wonder we were tired!
On the Monday morning, leaving Bec to sleep a little longer, I decided to stretch my legs, and duck over to Artist’s pool.. The sun was also thinking of rising as I walked past the lake near the Scott Kilvert hut, and by the time I got to Artist’s pool lit was casting red on rock. Took a few photos, then headed back, aware that we still had a bit of distance to cover, and the drive home.
Back and packed, and we headed off, deciding to climb Cradle on the way out. Circling round Cradle, we got a bit crazy and went skating on a nice looking frozen tarn.. until one too many ominous cracks made for a quick retreat! The skating wasn’t only limited to the tarns, there were plenty of sections of track that had been covered in water, which had turned to ice, giving us very slippery runways to work our way across… I think my skating skills need some improvement to say the least!
Somehow our weary legs took us up to the top of Cradle, negotiating some fun boulders, and some not so fun super slippery frosted over ones. It was a bit cold on top, and the wind had made an appearance, so we kept pushing on, wanting to get back at a reasonable time.
On the way out we checked out Little Horn from the track. Seems there might be a decent pad leading up to the ridge line.. where it goes from there is anyone’s guess.. will be back to explore though!
We were tired enough to decide Campbell and Kate could also wait for another time, so we took the shortest route back, via the enchanted ballroom (not sure who came up with that name), and over lots of nice duckboard!!
And another long drive home, thanks Bec for that, a yummy roast courtesy of Bec’s mum, and into bed, to wake early for work the next morning.. I was happy 🙂
Apparently all it takes is some time with the moon, the frost, some ice, the sun, a mountain or two, and yeah, why not, some prickly scoparia.. along with someone to have a laugh with.. to recharge my batteries :)!
All up: 47.5km, 2928m ascent.