By the time it came around, I really couldn’t afford to be walking this weekend, but I’d declined plans based on the fact that I would be, so I kind of had to. I compromised though, 2 instead of 3 days, and I took my computer. Though I would regret the weight, and worry about the fact I hadn’t thought of bringing along something waterproof to put it in if it rained, it actually worked ok, and I was more productive for the amount of time I put in than I expected.
But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Another night at work, a long drive up, followed by some quizzing at the Dove Lake parks office thingy over whether I’d let someone know where I was going, whether I had a map and necessary navigational devices etc. etc… it made me chuckle!!
Finally I was parked at the Ranger station, wandered through the Peppers Lodge, and found the start of a handful of tracks. That’s what I wanted, and off I set, on boardwalk through open myrtle forest. Track names meant nothing to me, so I ignored them, and followed a route I had on my gps whenever I came to a branch.
It wasn’t long before I was out in the open, and open it was. After a short climb, the button grass plains stretched wide and far, such a massive landscape, painted in beautiful colours. Usually I like being able to see where I’m walking to, but the vastness was a little daunting. Cradle was hiding to start with, but eventually made an appearance as the day wore on.
What started as a bit of a boggy track dried up (thankfully, button grass bog is harder work than it needs to be), but then, after turning south onto what looked like an old vehicular track, it disappeared. I followed the highest point of the ‘ridge’ (more a minor raise in the landscape) south and then southwest, and managed to reconnect with the ‘road’ (at times one, sometimes two, pads through the button grass and other alpine scrub) when it reappeared.
I had started to worry by that point that the rest of the walk would be off track, which wasn’t an issue given the openness of the terrain, but I’d been expecting one, and the going was much slower without it. It was nice to have it back, and the further I walked the more confidence I had that it would take me all the way to Remus and back.
I was disappointed to discover that the mound labelled ‘Heap of Rocks’ on maps was most inaccurately named. I had pondered a quick visit, but seeing it covered in green with only a hint of rock, I gave that idea away in disgust.
After 2.5 hrs walking I was standing just below Back Peak, and despite having decided to leave it and head straight for Remus, I was in need of some reward for the effort so far, and an excuse to drop my pack for a bit, so I ducked up in all of 7 minutes! The view was much the same as it had been from below, Cradle and Barn being of most significance, but the Eldon range also just visible. Beecroft to the north was probably the closest mountain.
Back down, I decided to camp just over the next rise, having passed up what would probably have been the more sensible option (water, shelter and a flat surface) a little earlier, in favour of a view. It was little windier than I was comfortable with, but too late to change spots, and the view was worth it. I certainly wasn’t walking any further than I needed to!
Tent up, day pack packed, and off I set for Remus. I was feeling rather guilty about still not having done any work today, but reasoned that having worked all night translation would be unproductive, or sleep inducing, so I might as well get the walking part done first, and translate the following morning.
I made good time to Recondite knob, managed to sort out my confusion of the mountains to the west (I’ve never seen them from quite that perspective), and headed off for Remus. The road was still serving me well, and though Remus looked scrubbier than anything I’d encountered so far, I had faith now that I’d get to the top without too much fuss.
It was not to be so. Standing on the top of the final rise before the summit, looking over the last 2km to go, things looked decidedly scrubby. But I wasn’t going back, so I plunged down, following the road. It petered out. I double and triple checked that I hadn’t just walked off it. But no, it no longer existed. Bugger!
There was no option but to just bash through it, and try to stick to the lower stuff. It was hot, scratchy work, and the pads I got on seemed to wind the wrong ways. It was slow going, and I started to think translating probably would have been a better idea. But though it seemed much much longer, an hour later I was on the summit, finally free of the tangled mess.
I’d noticed I hadn’t heard any birdsong apart from the cawing of currawongs, and so was pleasantly surprised to look up and find a wedgie soaring and diving in the wind, alone but seemingly perfectly content to enjoy life as it pleased. Or maybe just saying hello to another wandering soul?
I didn’t stay long, I wanted to be back through the scrub sooner rather than later, and there was no use putting it off. So I went. And managed to find a much much better route back, even if it didn’t differ too much from the one I’d taken down. It always amazes me that 5 metres in one direction and the scrub can be so different!
A sigh of satisfaction, then a slow and tired wander back to my tent. I wanted to crash but I’d been through much more of the 4 litres of water I’d lugged up, so I had to deal with that first. I wasn’t right next door to any water, so picked a creek on my gps that flowed down, off one side of the ridge I was on. I hoped the map was relatively accurate, and I wouldn’t be descending too far into scrub off the ridge before I hit the top of it.
I was in luck. After a bit of a drop, a stop to listen, more drop, another stop, and the reward of a slight trickle, I’d found the creek. A little further down and I had a suitable spot that would allow me access through the undergrowth to fill my bottle up. Satisfied, I headed back up and to camp. A second lunch for dinner, and I was on to the translating, which I thought would just end in me falling asleep, but was actually quite productive. Maybe it was the scrubby bush I was leaning against, or the fresh air, or mozzies…or the cloud as it slowly rolled in, engulfing all of Cradle save for a top corner (but ignoring Barn completely).
I did eventually tire, and giving up on the possibility of a sunset through the cloud, I set my alarm instead for 11.30pm in case the sky was clear and there was a light show from the tail of an asteroid we were supposed to be passing through. It went off, I stuck my head out the door, but there was nothing but cloudy black/grey, so I promptly went back to sleep.
Sunrise was an equally non-existent affair, but that was ok, I had instead a whistler to make me smile. I ate some breakfast and got going with some more translating. Satisfied with a decent effort, by 9.20 I was packed and ready to head out. Again, I found a much better route back over the part where the road disappeared, and found myself back at the car in 2.5 hours.
A stop in Campbell Town for a burger and some more work, then home. So not exactly a stunning walk (a FB friend aptly described it as all a bit ho-hum), but it was fitting.
All up: 29.3km, 9.5 hrs, 1132m ascent.