Guardians and Horizontal Hill: 14-16 April 2017


Gould, Guardians, Horizontal Hill circuit GPS route

Easter means a lot of different things. This year, it gave me a chance for a 3 day walk before I started full time work. Both Graham and I had been flat out in the lead up and had left the choice of destination until we had a full weather forecast. When two friends extended an invitation to join them on their Gould, Minotaur and Guardians trip we thought it would be a lovely way to celebrate Easter.

And so we started devising a plan that would allow us to spend a bit of time with them, but also worked within our 3 compared to their 4 days, the ferry availability and our desire to camp on top of the Guardians and attempt Horizontal Hill. We ended up with something that was mostly solid, but did have an escape plan should we not be able to find our way off the Guardians’ cliffs towards Horizontal.

We broke all records on the Friday morning, leaving five minutes EARLY, despite a last minute search around for the Olympus map for two other friends who had shifted their walk from the Southern Ranges to Olympus that very morning! It was nice to catch up with them briefly before they headed off, and also with a customer I’d met just the day before – Tassie is a very small place!

After failing to convince the ferry lady we really wanted to pay for the return trip and we certainly wouldn’t be deciding the weather was too nice on the Sunday (it was due to rain all day) and we’d walk out instead, we sat in the sun and ate our lunch. As we did so we tried to figure out exactly where a group of 9 who had signed the multiday logbook would be walking if they planned to do Gould, The Guardians and Lake Marion as stated. We were slightly concerned there might not be much room for all of us around the two small tarns on the Gould plateau, and could only hope we wouldn’t all end up in the one place! There was nothing we could do but wait and see…

We hopped aboard the ferry just after midday. Its master had a somewhat perfunctory manner about him and conversation was kept to the bare minimum, but it would take a lot more than that to dampen our excitement – we were going on a walk after all!!

As we approached Narcissus we hollered out to Bec and Meredith who were just finishing their paddle up the lake. We’d be sharing the night with them but left them to beach and hide their boats, sort their gear out, hide their paddles elsewhere and have some lunch before starting the walk.

It had been a few years since our first trip in to Gould and the Minotaur (written up in its own post), and a lot of the terrain had been conveniently forgotten – particularly the knee-scratching-overgrown-bauera part. But the track was still in good nick, and only difficult to follow in one or two places in the forest if you didn’t take care.

We entertained ourselves as we walked in our own ways. Graham wrote things in the mud for Meredith and Bec, while I struggled to cough and breathe and walk all at once. I might have had a bit of a cold, and hadn’t thought about the effect cold air might have on my lungs. Needless to say, Graham had lots of time to craft his messages and draw his pictures!

When we popped out the top of the rather lovely but increasingly steep forest, we were reminded of why we loved the plateau as much as we did. As soon as you get up I reckon it must be obligatory to head left to the slab of rock and admire the views. Though they extend all around, Byron and Olympus stole centre stage, followed by the Geryons and Acropolis, and of course Gould. Many other familiar faces played supporting roles and I think we both felt like we’d returned to the bush.

We enjoyed taking numerous photos of the same mountains, just to capture the changing light, before dragging ourselves away to see if we’d be sharing the campsite with 9 others. We’d seen evidence of fresh footprints, but weren’t entirely sure. Rounding the small hill we found that the tarns were all ours, which caused us some confusion but not enough to dwell on for too long.

We chose a site that left plenty of room for Bec and Meredith, and set about pitching the tent and unpacking our gear. Even with all our phaffing it had taken us only 2 hours to get up, so it wasn’t all that late but it was pretty damn cold. That meant we didn’t hang out for too long before sliding under our sleeping bags and cooking up some soup. Bec and Meredith weren’t too far behind us and we had a nice catch up, shared Easter treats, then got an early night because it was just too cold to sit out.

Byron from the lip of the Gould Plateau.. the light was nice
A few moments later and the light had changed again!
A lovely camp site, we pitched our tent and waited for Bec and Meredith to join us
We took a few photos, despite having been here before.. the Geryons are always nice to look at
Evening light on Olympus.. Two of our friends were somewhere over there

We had an excellent night’s sleep on the new mattress configuration that Meredith had designed us (anyone who uses two single mattresses instead of a double will know the exact nature of our discomfort), and we thanked her profusely (she’s the best go to person you’ll find). The usual mix of breakfast, photos and packing up followed, with the mist and reflections making the place even more magical than it already was. It was only unusual in that Graham did a sterling job of trying to cook pancakes with wholly inappropriate gear – and I have to say they were pretty good for bush pancakes, even if I teased him at the time!

We eventually set off and made it to the start of the rather steep climb up Gould together. Meredith and Bec had been in two minds about whether to sidle or go over Gould, and we did our best to give them the information we could remember from our first trip. They chose to follow us up and over, but to do so at their own pace.

We wished them the best and headed off. Our memories must have faded with time, or perhaps it was a matter of looking at the terrain through other people’s eyes, but we realised as we approached the crest at the southern end of the ridge that the information we’d given might not have been as accurate as we’d have liked.

As we crested the end and started across the rocky ridge to the summit the walking was much easier, the peak was visible, and there were easy routes down to the low scrub off the side. We just hoped Bec and Meredith would persist to that point – we had no doubt they could, it was just a matter of whether they would. Neither of us could shake a slightly uneasy feeling however, which only grew the longer we sat on the summit eating lunch.

We kept an eye out for them, as well as one out to the north because we could hear voices quite clearly, could see tents pitched below the Minotaur and half expected to be joined at any moment. We exchanged ‘hellos’ with the voices, which was pretty cool, and we guessed they were part of the party of 9. As we left the summit we watched them strike camp and head to the west, and guessed we’d be meeting them sometime that evening!

Part way down my phone buzzed. I’d accidentally left it on from the summit, and had an uneasy feeling it was going to be word from Meredith and Bec. It was. They’d had, as can so easily happen out there on big rocks, a big bit of a scare and had made the sensible choice to turn back to Gould’s plateau. Graham and I were somewhat subdued. I think we both felt a mix of worried, disappointed for them for not having made it to any of the mountains they’d planned or their intended camp site, and partly responsible for having given the information that had swayed them to attempt the up and over route.

We continued on, however, sliding more than walking down the shale-y chute to the saddle between Gould and the Minotaur, then up the far side, before turning left and taking the scrub free route out along the southern side of the Guardian plateau. Graham, bless him, is like a dog chasing a rabbit when he has other walkers in front of him, and he shot off ahead (must be a male thing – my brother is exactly the same on his bike). I struggled to keep up, coughing and panting in his wake.

Part way up the only real climb along the plateau he caught up to the group ahead of us, who, as it turned out, had already figured out who he was courtesy of his yellow gloves and glasses! They’d also guessed who I was too, courtesy of the rockmonkey reputation, which is always nice but does make me a little nervous that I might not live up to expectations if they’ve got out of hand, as reputations can (I am, after all, just like many other bushwalkers – a lot of passion, a little bit crazy but nothing extraordinary).

When I finally arrived at their resting spot we had a formal introduction. They were indeed the group of 9 and as we’d guessed from the leader’s name in the book, were on a Launceston Walking Club walk. They were a lovely bunch and we looked forward to sharing the evening with them at the Guardian’s summit tarn (for that was where we were both headed).

We continued on at our own paces, and found the tarn wasn’t far away (less than 2 hours from Gould’s summit). We selected a spot around the far side, out of the wind and with excellent views, and in a location that gave the LWC walkers (and one NWWC walker) plenty of room to pitch tents. We then headed for the summit, aware that it was going to get cold and dark early, and wanting to have enough time to scout out the right gully that we’d need for the next morning.

The summit was a simple affair, but the views unique and not hard to take. As we sat there enjoying it all the LWC group made their way up too. We chatted some more (they were very generous with their gratitude for this blog – and it was lovely to hear that they were using it as it was intended!), celebrated the summit, and accepted (and enjoyed!) their generously offered Easter eggs.

We then went our own ways, some went to a second high point, some went to check out the gullies that ran like scars down the cliff face. We did the latter, keen to know where we’d need to go the next morning, and aware that we wouldn’t have time to make mistakes then given we had a big day and a ferry deadline to meet.

We found one that Graham really liked the look of, but it didn’t have a cairn marking the top, as we’d been told to look out for (see the Abels description). After scouting back east-ish along the cliff line we finally found a cairn and picked the gully we thought it most likely to be associated with. We weren’t sure though, so decided to suss it out till we were confident we could get the whole way down. We got a fair way down, in the process ruling out any of the other nearby gullies as they were just too steep, but came to a 3-5m drop without much to hold on to. While it might have been possible, it wasn’t going to be safe with full packs and in the rain, and we still had concerns for sections further down. We wrote it off and went back to the gully we’d first liked the look of.

As we headed over we had a chat with the LWC leader, who had also thought it was the best pick. As they went back to camp and dinner we decided to make sure. We picked our way down and although we came to two steep but not impossible bits, we opted to work our way around them, each time heading to the left. By the time we got to a little gap in the rocks to the left side of the gully we knew we’d be fine getting down the following morning, so we marked it with a cairn for future walkers and headed back to the top. There we erected another cairn, just to keep the Abels accurate and to help out any other walkers who might try the circuit!

When we returned we headed over to the LWC tents with biscuits and cheese. We’d been intending on sharing them with Meredith and Bec but seeing we’d not get the chance, we thought it was pretty fitting (even if they weren’t chocolate Easter eggs!). We shared what we found and chatted about all sorts of things. They also seemed to get along really well with each other and gave off an infectiously happy vibe that it was a pity we weren’t still in the longer days of summer so we could sit around a chat for longer. But again the cold and dark drove us to our tents early that night.

The next morning was still, and the mist slowly lifted to reveal the mountains
Guardians and Horizontal Hill – our two ‘mountains’ for the trip
Olympus had a sleep in
By the time we’d climbed to the foot of Gould, the cloud was gone and views back to the lake and Olympus were perfect
The Eldons feel different now we’ve been there
Ahh.. the Guardians sprawling out in the midday sun
And another one of that ridgeline.
Horizontal Hill, gives a sense of the route we took
Lake Marion from the edge of the Guardian’s plateau
Can you spot the LWC walkers enjoying the cliff edge?
Not a bad place to camp, just shy of the Guardians summit
Tent was up as the LWC group follows suit. It’s time for us to check out the summit
The top of the gully we took down, in case you want to use it!
A brief bit of colour before the cloud took over
Warm light on Macs and Walled… we thought about another friend who was having an ambitious crack at Nereus that day
Guardians summit with Gould behind

We woke at some ridiculously cold and wet hour, trying not to think about having to get out of our sleeping bags and packing up the tent as our fingers progressively and paradoxically became painfully numb. But we did, and the rain was good enough to pause a while as we did so.

We scuttled over to the cliff edge, haunched and withdrawn into our wet weather shells in attempt to escape the cold caress of the wind and rain. We found the cairn we’d erected the evening before and complimented ourselves for its position. From the direction we’d approached it, it had really stood out on the horizon and we only hoped it would be that way for other parties. Down we went, taking care in the new slipperiness. We were really glad we’d already scoped it out because the poor visibility was disconcerting enough.

We were now walking blind, quite literally, with only very limited information with which to make route-finding decisions. We managed to strike lucky, however, and made the use of the scree, followed by some weaving through the trees in what was really quite low scrub until we hit the saddle. It would have been awesome to be able to look back up at the Guardian’s cliff line, but it wasn’t to be. Instead Graham took over the lead and charged into the scrub. It was a fair bit thicker here, but again we ended up on a pretty good line and he was able to make the most of patches of open myrtle forest.

After climbing a few contour lines the scrub got short, wiry and robust and we were slowed down a fair bit. We altered our plan of attack, choosing to sidle over to the ridge to our left, where we reckoned the going would be much better (it was, after all, the recommended route). We found some nice pads when we got there, which lined up nicely with a GPS route we had. We dropped packs and followed the pads all the way to the summit, finding a tub of sunscreen on the way (are you missing yours? Send me a message!).

We didn’t spend much time up there, enough to duck around to all the possible high points (it’s pretty flat up there – good camping in fact, as we’d been told just before we left!), pull out a snack and take one photo in the rain. We were back at the packs in no time, put on extra layers, and kept heading down the ridge, trying to figure out where the voices and laughter we could here were from – likely the LWC group, though they weren’t in sight. We were expecting to hit scrub at any moment but were kept hanging in suspense and weren’t at all disappointed when it never eventuated. Instead we had open forests and low bauera all the way to the water’s edge, where we were treated to a small spot of sun and a hint of the Guardian’s cliffs.

It was a good feeling to be down in the time we’d hoped and to just have the very easy walk out on the Lake Marion track. First we had to wade the edge of the lake, which meant wet and cold feet and a swarm of tiny little gnat like flies that seemed determined to get in eyes, noses and mouths. At the far end of the lake we had a chat to a guy who’d bought his family complete with kids in (pretty cool) and then followed his directions to the start of the track. The next few hours took us through some stunning button grass plains and then lovely myrtle forest (which had plenty of other species of tree in it too!). We were both feeling pretty tired by this stage and kept to a slow steady pace.

It was really nice to change into dry clothes at Narcissus, but even better to see Bec and Meredith walk around the corner shortly afterwards! We caught up, enjoyed hot chocolate and cheese and before we knew it we were hopping on the ferry. The circuit is definitely worth consideration if you don’t mind a bit of route finding, and well exceeded our expectations! Though Horizontal has been described as a oncer, I’d even consider going back.

It just so turned out that this easter was a people-y easter, and it was very much enjoyed – it’s hard to beat spending time with good people.

Day 1: 5.4km 2:10hrs, 491m ascent

Day 2: 9km, 8hrs, 924m ascent

Day 3: 12.5km, 7:12hrs, 309m ascent

The flat summit of Horizontal Hill. It was quite fun despite the wet, and Graham raises a (half eaten!) chocolate bar in celebration
At Lake Marion, the cliffs of the Guardians are covered in low cloud

Gould and the Minotaur: 1-3 March 2014

Gould, the Minotaur GPS route
Gould, the Minotaur GPS route

This little walk was a brilliant example of the coming together of a number of plans, into one perfect whole. It started off with a message from a school friend, Adam, who I hadn’t seen pretty much since school, almost 10 years ago (feeling a bit old now!). He was going to be down with his housemate and partner, and had a few days to go walking. They happened to coincide with my days off, so the weekend was booked. Where we’d go would be a last minute decision based on the weather!

The young and active echidna on the Overland Track by Lake St Claire
The young and active echidna on the Overland Track by Lake St Claire

In the lead up, I’d been making plans with a few friends to finally get together on a cruisy walk somewhere nice. Most of my weekends had been booked with one form or walking or another, and I mentioned this weekend if they were interested. All three were, and Adam was ok with it too, so we were getting a nice little party together. The usual uncertainties and misfortunes arose, one friend couldn’t make it because her ankle was still not good ( 😦 ), another realised she couldn’t skip uni on the Monday (but ended up coming for the Sat/Sun :)!!), the third questioned whether she should leave us to enjoy the weekend alone. But, as usual, everything came together at the last minute. Bec decided to walk up and back without the mountains in the middle (pity, and I felt a little bad, because she missed the nicest of days), Catherine was convinced her company would be much appreciated, and we even had a last minute addition in the form of Graham. The weather, the temptation of mountains unexplored, and a cancelled work commitment on the Monday, meant he could do some rearranging, chase us down on the Saturday afternoon, and head out early on the Monday morning. Maybe the company played a small role too ;)?

My translucent hungry little (big!) caterpillar
My translucent hungry little (big!) caterpillar

So, with a great group, a perfect weather forecast, and some mountains to climb, we set off. Being the perfect host, I gave Adam the keys to my car, and instructions for Bec not to lose him, and went to sleep in the back of the car while he drove. I’d worked overnight and hadn’t felt well at all, so was in damage minimisation mode! That worked quite well, and I woke just before 14 mile road.

Climbing all done, and what a reward we have on the sandstone shelf on which we find ourselves standing!
Climbing all done, and what a reward we have from the sandstone shelf on which we find ourselves standing! The Acropolis.

We were changed and ready to walk just before 9 so off we went. I’d walked that very track the week before, so wasn’t as excited by the prospect of 5 or so hours on it, but the company definitely made all the difference. It was great to catch up with old and (slightly) newer friends, and chat about anything from politics to kids movies. Adam’s sheer delight early on at a large rock, which both trees and ferns were intent on climbing, convinced me that he’d fit in just fine! As a reward for walking the lake instead of taking the ferry, we also saw a translucent green fat caterpillar, and two echidnas. The two were quite different: the first darker, older, and much more bashful as he buried his head and refused to move; the second lighter, smaller and so full of movement it was virtually impossible to take a photo that wasn’t blurry!!

Looking the other way, back towards Olympus. Worth the effort!!
Looking the other way, back towards Olympus. Worth the effort!!

We took our time wandering the lake’s edge, but made it to the signed Lake Marion/Gould Plateau turn off (200m before you arrive at Narcissus hut) at about 3.30, just as we were expecting Graham to be arriving at Narcissus on the ferry. A brief snack, before it was time to push on. We knew we had at least an hour and a half up to the plateau where we’d camp, likely more given the steep climb we’d have to ascend. Knowing Graham would easily catch up and overtake it was more important we kept moving, that wait up.

Camp and dinner that evening.. just a beautiful little spot. Love those snowgums
Camp and dinner that evening.. just a beautiful little spot. Love those snowgums

The track to the junction is decent, only slightly vague in a few places, and is signposted at the Lake Marion turn off. Graham had given me some pink tape to put up in any slightly obscure areas, so he could follow at pace, but it wasn’t really necessary. Probably the best placed bit of tape was tied to the chicken wire in the middle of a section of boardwalk.. just in case he lost the track ;)!!

Misty morning.. the snowgums still look good even without the reds and oranges that I love so much about them!
Misty morning.. the snowgums still look good even without the reds and oranges that I love so much about them!

After the turn off, there were a few sections where the track was easier to walk off, and some searching was required, but by and large once we got used to spotting the red and white painted blazes on tree trunks it was quite easy to follow. The problem was in trying not to take your eyes off the track too long to admire the beautiful forest through which it weaved its way up. We were all pretty tired by this stage (except Graham who shot off ahead), so going was slow, and slowed further when we hit a few slippery sandstone rocks across the path, that required care in placing just the right amount of weight on each step, lest you slip straight back down.

Shortly after heading off on our day walk, the mist clears quite rapidly, and we pause to take in the views
Shortly after heading off on our day walk, the mist clears quite rapidly, and we pause to take in the views

By this stage the change in vegetation suggested the top of the plateau was near, and so it was. We popped out quite fast, onto a beautifully textured sandstone platform, a stage from which to view the world that had suddenly opened up around us. We shared smiles, then laughter, tinged with a hint of relief that the climb was over and home for the night was just over there. The pause was brief, we were all pretty keen by now to set up tents, change, and get some food in to us.. I was certainly more than ready for bed!

After a climb through scrub and up the scree, we're finally dancing on top, climbing little high points just for fun!!
After a climb through scrub and up the scree, we’re finally dancing on top, climbing little high points just for fun!!

And what a beautiful little site we had up on the Gould plateau!! Camping is by the smaller of the two tarns, on a nice flat patch, or slightly further away in low scrub for a bit more protection from the wind (we didn’t have any though). The main site looks over the tarn to the Acropolis, and the snow gums with their beautiful colours provide countless subjects for photos. I do love the way they glow lovely warm colours in the evening (and morning for that matter) light. Just over the slight rise, another sandstone platform, which was only a stone’s throw away was a magnificent view over the larger tarn towards Gould and the numerous mountains out to its west, including High Dome and the Eldon range. And of course, back south, over the tops of the tents, sat Olympus and Byron alongside their as yet unexplored (by me) friends.

All are impressed by the mighty Guardians, looking over Lake Marion
All are impressed by the mighty Guardians, looking over Lake Marion

Tents up, and time to relax over dinner. As the sun dropped in the sky, it put on a nice little bit of colour (nothing spectacular, but very much appreciated all the same), which had me ducking between boiling water for food and the sandstone ledge which proved a lovely viewing platform. It slowly got dark as we ate and chatted, looked enviously at Catherine’s smoked salmon, and shared port and chocolate.

An idea of the boulders.. plenty of this :)
An idea of the boulders.. plenty of this 🙂

Tired as we were, just before retiring to our tents, Graham pulled out his star maps and together with Adam and I, attempted to make sense of what was what! It took a bit to get direction and scale worked out, but I think we managed to work out a little bit of what was what. It was rather exciting to be looking up at the stars that shared the same names as many of the peaks we’d recently climbed on the Western Arthurs!! Perhaps if we hadn’t been so tired, and the cloud wasn’t creeping across the sky, I’d have lain outside and looked for a little longer, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to keep my eyes open!

And plenty of this too.. stopping to admire the view.. from the top of another bit of pointy rock of course!
And plenty of this too.. stopping to admire the view.. from the top of another bit of pointy rock of course!

We awoke the next morning in a misty bubble, gum trees silhouetted in dark greys against the horizon. The sun, looking almost moon-like as it tried to burn through the blanket of water drops, gave a hint of what would eventually unfold. A warm breakfast, a good bye and good luck to Bec for the journey out, and off we went, following the same pad in the opposite direction. We’d barely passed the larger tarn when the mist, which sometimes gives the illusion of being quite thick, burnt off quite quickly, once again revealing our destination and the surrounding mountains. We paused to marvel as it did so, before setting back off, though low alpine scrub, then slightly thicker, pricklier stuff (much to Adam’s delight!).

Heading down, Catherine has a bit of rock monkey in her now, and there's no more hesitation!
Heading down, Catherine has a bit of rock monkey in her now, and there’s no more hesitation!

In accordance with the Abel’s notes, the pad is minimal at times, but a bit of instinct and guess work saw us stick to it until we hit rock. We climbed up on a fairly decent incline, Adam getting his first taste of dolerite. Stops for photos were at least as important as those to catch a breath! As we sidled and climbed, Lake Marion came into view, then the impressive looking cliff line of the Guardians (but an easy enough walk nonetheless), and the jagged, ice-shattered, knife-edge arêtes that rise up perpendicular to meet the main ridge line of Gould.

Down a bit of rock to this point, where we head left down the steep short gully leading to the Gould/Minotaur saddle
Down a bit of rock to this point, where we head left down the steep short gully leading to the Gould/Minotaur saddle

On top, we danced, clambered, jumped, or otherwise worked our way along the ridge – climbing rock pillars that stood above the rest, or flat walls of rock that required patience and perseverance in finding the smallest of holds that would offer enough purchase to allow an ascent, just for fun.. just because..

Everlasting golden glow
Everlasting golden glow

Catherine, quite a gutsy woman who’s good at putting her head down and just doing what needs to be done, despite being out of her comfort zone, had a moment of self doubt. But true to her character, and the character of a number of people I have the pleasure of walking with, and after a few encouraging words from Graham (she didn’t need help, just a refocussing from how far we might have to keep rock scrambling and how far back the return would be, to what needed to be done in the here and now) and a bit more scrambling, sure enough we found ourselves on the summit. Hugs and congratulations, photos and thirsty gulps of water were followed up with lunch. Catherine reminded me of myself as she expressed her reaction to the experience, the view and the accomplishment with laughter. Happy laughter, real laughter. It was then that I realised the the truth in another friend’s words, that there can be as much enjoyment in taking someone on a walk and seeing them enjoy it as there is in going on a walk yourself. It is particularly rewarding to see some take on a challenge, succeed so brilliantly, and be able to celebrate and grow from that success.

Catherine heading down, the Minatour waits patiently to be graced by our presence
Catherine heading down, the Minatour waits patiently to be graced by our presence

Sitting on top and looking at the Guardians and the Minotaur we decided we didn’t have time (or probably energy) for the Guardians, but we’d drop down to the Gould/Minotaur saddle and see how we felt about continuing on to the Minotaur before heading back to camp via the alternative route (sidling under the scrubby eastern side of Gould). As we packed Graham’s drink bottle went for a roll, somewhere down the cracks in the rocks. A bit of a climb around underneath and it was eventually located, requiring Graham’s long arms, followed by a bit of coat hanger like wire that someone had generously left up there. Seeing the opportunity while we were all distracted, one very brave skink decided to try his luck nibbling on Graham’s fingers!! Not sure what he thought of them, but he can’t have been too fussy because he later went on to try his luck eating a bit of rock.

On top of the Minotaur, impressed and a little awestruck looking back at Gould's profile!
On top of the Minotaur, impressed and a little awestruck looking back at Gould’s profile!

Drink bottle successfully rescued, we had a lovely little climb down, down the obvious gully on the northwestern side of the Gould ridge, until we hit the saddle. It was just after 1.30 so we had plenty of time to check out the Minotaur, which was DEFINITELY worth it. An easy climb along a pad, followed by a bit of eagerness that saw us beeline for the summit rather than take a longer arc that would have kept us on slightly easier terrain (but no real issue there), and we were there, looking back at what now seemed quite a different, and very spectacular, mountain! More chuckles of joy from Catherine, followed by the Mini-tor-tor dance :p!!

Happy.. so so happy!! The real, pure, long lasting glowing kind
Happy.. so so happy!! The real, pure, long lasting glowing kind

We sat and enjoyed for much longer, breathing in the views, basking in the sun and sense of achievement, peaceful and relaxed. I don’t think any of us were too keen to move, as we posed for photos, chatted away, and talked about the route up the Acropolis. It was, eventually time to move, though, and down we wandered. Back to the saddle, a sidle around Gould below the scree line, then across scree, then the best possible route we could find through the scrub. Heading this way did mean we had the option of dropping down when we hit heavier patches, and we were all glad we weren’t going the opposite way. This was a first for Adam (and Catherine for that matter too) in scrub bashing, and they did remarkably well at keeping up the chatter and laughter right to the end!

And time to head back.. sidling round the eastern side of Gould, just before the scree runs out and we're in the scrub.
And time to head back.. sidling round the eastern side of Gould, just before the scree runs out and we’re in the scrub.

Back at camp we all took delight in a swim in the larger tarn, which was absolutely glorious, if a little shallow. The prickly green stuff on the bottom providing a free knee scrub if you attempted breaststroke! If you chose instead to sit in the shallows, the tadpoles came to nibble gently on your toes.

A well earned, very refreshing and delightful swim in the tarn!!! :D
A well earned, very refreshing and delightful swim in the tarn!!! 😀 Hard to beat on a bush walk!

Absolute. Pure. Joy.

Feeling much cleaner, and in fresh clothes, we cooked dinner, teased one another and decided to scrap the walk out the next day in preference for keeping Graham company on the 9.30 ferry. Catherine provided us with a Hot Chocolate impersonation, Graham with the real thing (much more to my taste than the guy Catherine was impersonating!).

Reflections :)
Reflections 🙂

The sunset was more impressive this night, and we all took a few photos. When the show was over and the sun had dipped below the horizon it was mutual consensus to beat a quick retreat to bed, we were all knackered and we had an early start to be back at Narcissus before 9.30.

More reflections
More reflections

I had another perfect night’s sleep, but was still reluctant to get moving when the alarm went off (why can’t I sleep like that at home!!?). We had no choice though, wanting to be moving before 7.30. I raced between taking the fly off the tent, a few photos as the sky to the west started to glow pinks and blues and wispy cloud stroked the backs of mountains, back to the rest of the tent, a few more photos as Gould grew an orange-red cap, the ground sheet, and then a lot more photos as Gould lit up brilliantly.

Dinner time.. as good a table as I have ever sat at, perhaps?
Dinner time.. as good a table as I have ever sat at, perhaps?

The sandstone ledge I’d been using to take my photos just wasn’t quite high enough to let me get all of Gould reflected in the tarn, so there was no option but to climb a tree. Luckily, there was one perfectly positioned, so up I went, camera in hand, and snapped away. Adam later joined me, in a slightly more impressive move that involved climbing the tree with camera AND porridge in hand!

Let the show begin.. early evening colours
Let the show begin.. early evening colours

It was a lovely start to the day, and I was as happy as ever, despite the fact that we were heading back.  Aware that we were short on time we headed off as soon as we were ready, and kept up a steady pace. The going was much faster, and we were back at Narcissus in just over an hour and a half. Time for a loo stop, to radio through to the visitor centre to let them know we were there, and wander down to the jetty as the ferry approached!!

Snowgums and the Acropolis.. yep :D
Snowgums and the Acropolis.. yep 😀

A very much easier ride back (yes, there are times it is worth the $40!), a look at maps of Olympus and a discussion of routes up and water availability with the boat driver guy, and we were back from a beautiful weekend walking, with the most enjoyable of company, in a pretty spectacular part of the world. Every time I write an entry, and it ends something like this, I’m all too aware of just how lucky I’ve been over the summer, and I wonder how long it will last. Surprisingly, next weekend looks like there’ll be stunning weather for the club trip to Robinson too!!

Final rays of sun over the tarn
Final rays of sun over the tarn

All up: 37km and 1678m ascent. Definitely recommended, particularly with as good as company as I was lucky enough to have :)! Thanks to you all for being game enough to trust me, and for meeting all the respective challenges as eagerly, determinedly and successfully as you did. Impressed, proud and respectful are some of the feelings one or other (or several) of you made me feel at different points on the trip, and I don’t say that lightly.

Morning reds on Gould
Morning reds on Gould
Good bye mountains.. until next time!
Good bye mountains.. until next time!
And a panorama of Gould and the Guardians, from the Minatour
And a panorama of Gould and the Guardians, from the Minatour