Helder: 6 April 2014

Helder GPS route

Helder GPS route

Well, having declared the summer of walking over with the Fedder trip, it seems neither the walking nor the good weather is over, though the days are increasingly shorter. We had just about everything we could have hoped for.. again! The weather was perfect, a little cloud, and a little humid, but no rain, minimal wind and plenty of sun. The company was top quality again: 6 of us from the Pandani Bushwalking Club. And the day’s adventure just perfect: a 4km paddle on Lake Pedder, a 7km walk up a mountain and back, and another 4km paddle back.

So still… just beautiful!

So still… just beautiful!

We started of with an overly leisurely start, given that it was the end of daylight savings and we all got an extra hour sleep, and didn’t have to be at Granton until 8am! A stop in Maydena for coffee and more chatting, then on to the McPartlan Boat Ramp. The first thing we all did upon arrival was reach for cameras and race down to the water’s edge to capture the beauty of the perfectly still water and the mountains reflected in it. Just as well, because by the time we came to jumping in kayaks, the breeze was slight, but enough to have shattered the near glass like surface, scattering reflections.

Gearing up, and getting ready to launch

Gearing up, and getting ready to launch

We were off by 10.40, and I know I wasn’t the only one feeling pure elation, the freedom of being on the water, moving through physical effort, in a beautiful place, with my four best friends. This is life, and am living :D.. it was simple, but it’s taken me 27 years. And so we laughed and joked and fooled around all day long, influenced by these feelings. On the water, two of the guys rushed at Shaz, Simon danced around us doing S bends in his new kayak and making me feel very envious, and Jim paddled on ahead and then sat back to just take in the peace and quiet.

That's our mountain. Helder.

That’s our mountain. Helder.

I paddled solidly, aware I was the weakest and least experienced kayaker there, but I was well looked after, and still had time to take a photo or two. We’d covered the 4km in about an hour, found a perfect little beach to pull into, and began the process of gearing up for the walking part. Boots and gaiters came out of dry bags, packs were packed, and we were good to go. It was nearly 12, a latish start for a walk I suppose, but I was completely oblivious to this at the time!

Boats beached, and walking gear on.

Boats beached, and walking gear on.

Off we headed, across flat button grass plains, straight for our mountain. The  high point of Helder was actually located behind the main bulk that we could see, and we knew that, but we had to go up and over. So by mutual consensus we headed for the ‘V’ in the trees. It’s obvious when you stand and look at the mountain, there was a lovely upside down V where the button grass extended slightly further up one ridge, meaning that we’d have more button grass and less scrub to have to go through. The boys consulted the map, us girls had no need.

Checking out which way to go.. and deciding on the V

Checking out which way to go.. and deciding on the upside down brown V on the right

So we made a beeline, and a very straight one at that (!), through a few short bands of scrub that seemed to be located around waterways, for the top of the V, racing to keep up with Graham’s long legs. A regroup, then into the scrub. After the first few metres, it proved to be quite open going, and though steep, we were out the other side in no time. The going continued to be open, up a button grass ridge with a few rocks strewn around. It was straight up and hot, so we made use of a few stops to catch our breath, drink water, cool down a bit, and pause to admire a wedge tailed eagle, not to mention the view.

It was mostly button grass.. but a little bit of open scrub on the way up too.

It was mostly button grass.. but a little bit of open scrub on the way up too.

When we arrived at the top of the ridge, we joined Graham on a couple of lookout rocks, and had to decide which mountain it was we were headed for (no really, we do know what we’re doing!). That settled, we started to head for our chosen summit. A 6m cliff line had us backing up and continuing further along before descending, too soon, there was still cliff in our way. Then we had a brief period doubting exactly where we were, and finally we found a spot to head down into an initially and briefly tangly, then relatively open forest.

Had to stop for the view, as much as for breath and to cool down!

Had to stop for the view, as much as for breath and to cool down!

But when it came time to start heading up the last bit of up, the scrub got thick and very tangly. Graham did an amazing job trampling it down for all of us, and we just followed his bash. It went further than I’d thought it would, but we eventually popped out of the worst of it. We each went our own ways. Even quite close to the top the button grass clumps were large and difficult to clamber over, so I opted for the rock slabs where possible. In this manner we arrived at the summit in our own time, and took in the usual spectacular southwest views at leisure.

Graham checking out the way ahead

Graham checking out the way ahead

We lunched, chatted, congratulated Simon on making 200 peak bagging points, threw apples in the air, and teased some more. I’d been enjoying myself so much that it wasn’t until about now, when I was told the time, that I realised how late it was! I wasn’t overly concerned, I love not worrying about things like that when I’m walking (though I realise that’s not always practical), and I don’t think any of us was in any mood to rush. But it was probably a good thing to have the reminder, so we had a little bit of urgency in getting back through the scrub (but not so much that tiny  blue fungi couldn’t be re-found and photographed).

Each doing our own thing

Each doing our own thing

I was put in the lead and was glad to do whatever I could to use my gps to follow our exact steps back out, so as not to waste any more time creating another bash through the scrub. It worked quite well and we made good time. Enough time, in fact, that we indulged on views to the west, and had a longer that necessary stop, purely for our enjoyment and soaking up of the moment.

That's our mountain.. a little bit of scrub in between us and it though!

That’s our mountain.. a little bit of scrub in between us and it though!

I watched Shaz stand on a rock taking it all in, Bec find another to half recline back on, Simon and Jim stand further away, also clearly mesmerised, and Graham doing as I did, watching everyone and taking photographs of them. I smiled, it was a pretty perfect day, and that moment contained a bit of everything: happiness, peace, achievement, friendship and beauty. How lucky we are.

Finally out of scrub and onto rock, and straight up.

Finally out of scrub and onto rock, and straight up.

We continued down, just the easy walking left to do, and only had a brief stop here or there, to regroup or to treat a cramp. Back at the boats (5.45 hrs after having left them) the sun was a low glow on the horizon, and the moon was in the sky and the water simultaneously. 10 minutes later we were good to go, and had a most enjoyable paddle back in the evening light. I hitched a ride in the slipstream of the double, kicking myself for not thinking of doing it on the way over as it saved a lot of energy!!

Simon reaches 200 points on the summit, and becomes an 'honourable peak bagger'! Congratulations :)

Simon reaches 200 points on the summit, and becomes an ‘honourable peak bagger’! Congratulations :), and ta for the lend of the kayak so I could be there too.

As we approached the boat ramp, there was only a little bit of light from the sun left, and the stars were starting to appear. It was just a brilliant way to end the day, and I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to go kayaking by moon and star light one very still night.. I think it would be magical! It’s on the ‘to do’ list 🙂

View from the summit of Helder, looking at the end of the Frankland Range.

View from the summit of Helder, looking at the end of the Frankland Range, Western Arthurs behind.

Just under 8 hours after having started out, we were back and loading the cars up, this bit by head torch. We were all tired, but I think very satisfied. I’m still smiling :)!

Heading back down.. the views were just beautiful!

Heading back down.. the views were just beautiful!

All up, 14.7km, 601m ascent, 7.53 hrs.

Shaz.

Shaz.

Simon and Jim.

Simon and Jim.

Beautiful light.

Beautiful light.

4 of the 6 of us :)

4 of the 6 of us, pretty happy :)!

The evening paddle back :D

The evening paddle back 😀

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