Nevada Peak and I have an interesting relationship. It was where I first learnt what it might feel like to be lost.. well not lost, just not sure how to get back on track or where the track might be! That was on a previous occasion, an unsuccessful attempt at the summit with a few friends and I learnt valuable lessons about even when tagging along on a walk to ensure there’s a decent map, and at least a compass, but in whiteout preferably a gps! So the first thing I bought when I started doing solo walks was a gps, so I knew I’d always be able to retrace my footsteps and get back home, no matter how long it took!
Anyway, on this particular day the weather wasn’t too flash hot, but it was the last day of the year and I was still eager to go walking in any kind of weather. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I was out and walking by 6.20am! The road out is long, mostly because it’s quite a distance on forestry roads. Directions are a little long and hard to retain in your head, so I plugged them into my gps and just followed that.
In short here’s where you drive: To Huonville, pass through the town, over the bridge and turn right onto Glen Huon Road, travelling along through Judbury. When you hit an intersection turn left onto Lonnavale road. Ignore Woolley’s road on the right, cross the Russell river and turn right to stay on Lonnavale Road. Follow the curve right where Comptons Rd heads off, and then right again at a crossroads to be on Russell Road, which makes its way down to the river and back up the other side. Continue, crossing the river again, 1km after which you turn right onto Rossell Spur 3. After 1.4 km take the left fork onto Spur 3/2, then in 1.35km take the right fork. After 1 km take the left fork for 250m. This brings you to an open logging coupe. From memory drive the last part carefully, as I believe there’s a largish rock that’s in a slight dip in the road, and it’s very easy to bang the bottom of your car on it.
There’s a cairn to the north, which marks the start of the track. I recall it being damp and a tad cold if you stood around for just a little too long, but the first part of the walk was quite pleasant, heading up through the forest. It was when I got a bit higher, and out into the more open terrain, that the wind started to bite and the rain got colder. But I was determined, as always, and I wasn’t turning back just yet! Just as well I had the gps, because like the first time, once you get on top and the cairns cease, you have no idea which way is which in whiteout!
I still don’t exactly know where I walked to this day, I just recall it like being in a big bubble of cotton wool, only it wasn’t soft and warm, and the wind was blowing so hard I found it difficult to walk straight! At least the terrain was quite easy to walk over. I just followed the gps route I’d plotted, and made small decisions based on the 20 metres I could see ahead, and somehow managed to avoid almost all rock right up until the last couple of metres. The pineapple grass was quite nice to walk on, and no where near as slippery. I didn’t stick around on top for long at all, and headed back the same way I’d come, the wind at my back this time which made it almost like walking on air, rather than wading through water!
With no views at all to hold me up, just the pandanis looming out of the mist to keep me company, it wasn’t hard to be back at the car in about 3.5 hours from leaving it!
All up: 11.7km, 3.38hrs, 891m ascent.
A slightly more recent adventure (3 August 2014) with the Pandanis reinforced just how important weather is to a successful summit. I’d been tempted by the idea of maybe finally getting some views from this range (I’ve climbed all the peaks, but not seen much past my own nose), and had promised to help with navigation. The day was shaping up nicely, partly cloudy and cold, but nothing horrible. There was also a good dumping of snow, which we expected to make things kind of fun.
There was, however, a lot more snow than anticipated! Not so much that we couldn’t see the three LARGE holes in the bridge just before the parking spot (on the right, do take care, they’ve only gotten bigger in the last year and a half), but not so much we couldn’t see the tree across the road. Graham, leader of the walk, had come prepared, and made short work of said tree with his chainsaw.
Back in the cars for the last few hundred metres, and we were greeted with a rainbow as we jumped out! There was already more snow than expected, and the top of the range was still hidden. I began to wonder if we might have any views or not. Only one way to find out, so gear was donned, snowshoes strapped to packs, and off we set. A short walk through the coup, then into the forest. The going was just as pleasant, if a little more exciting thanks to the constant threat of being hit by a well aimed snowball!!
The fight was to persist throughout the day, and snow in the face or down the back of the neck was, generally, received with a yelp and laughter. I’d been lucky enough to have made a pact with Jess, a key instigator with good aim, that ensured we were on the same side of any snow fight. Graham, who was the token male taking the Pandani ‘harem’ on a walk, was often the primary target. He also gave as good as he got, which always makes it more fun.
The higher we got the thicker the snow got, and I remember breaking out a bit of scrub to find a white expanse of thigh deep snow spread before us, which had Jess letting out an involuntary laugh of pure happiness. It made me smile, it was exactly how I was feeling, if a little run down by the cold I had.
Past a certain point, the cameras (now rather wet) went away, the snow fights stopped, as all energy went into pushing through snow that increased from knee to waist, and in parts, chest deep. More than a foot sat on the tops of trees and pandanis, and had there been the energy, would have made great little traps for an unsuspecting passer by. Graham took the lead and did all the work, the rest of us consolidating a trench through the snow. It was hard to stay on ‘track’, there was little evidence of one now, but we managed remarkably well.
As it approached 12.30, with still a decent way to climb, Graham flopped down in the snow, and though it was clear he had plenty of energy still left in him, the group consensus was to turn back and find somewhere a little warmer for lunch. It was hard to keep warm going downhill, as the pace was slowed now by care not to slip, and for a while it was relatively quiet in my part of the ‘line’. Not so much the contented relaxed quiet, but the freezing cold, slightly stuffed, no energy for anything else but survival kind of quiet.
As we dropped though, we inevitably warmed up, especially after our stop for lunch, which I’d have skipped it all together had I been alone. When Jess started up with the jokes, I knew she was all good again (at our turn around point she hadn’t even joined in with the snow fight, which was a tad concerning), and I was finally starting to feel my fingers too, painful as it was.
The rest of the trip out was relaxing, as we chatted about Bec’s bushwalking rules, pondered sunset on the Needles one day, and otherwise just enjoyed one another’s company. More snow balls thrown, and a bit of a chase, including running down slippery snow covered tree trunks, plenty of laughter when a snowball landed right on target, and before we knew it we were back at the coup.
Though we’d failed miserably to get anywhere near our intended target, what we did achieve exceeded all expectations: we played as kids again, delighting in the little things, yelping and laughing at the cold wetness of snow, and generally making the most of the place in which we found ourselves and the company we were with. That is, I think, what walking has become about for me.
And another trip, with pretty much perfect weather: