It’s funny how some things speak to you. An underlined quote in a borrowed book, and all of a sudden I was planning a walk for the following day. It had to be a short and nearby one, given we were only 4 days off the winter solstice and I had work that morning, and the following morning. And so I figured I’d check out either the Saw Back Range or the Ragged Range (I only made up my mind when I got there!). Both were on my list of mountains to climb this year (it’s already proving to be an ambitious one – I just don’t have the time), and both are perfect winter scrub bashes. In fact, there couldn’t have been a better choice for this particular day.
Rain was forecast in most parts of the state, but the southwest seemed a little clearer. I was doubting that as I drove through the mist near Maydena, and wondered if my walk might turn into a drive, but my mood picked up when I left the mist and blue sky appeared on the western horizon. I made note of the wisdom in choosing a low peak to climb – the higher ones had their heads in the cloud.. mine didn’t. Things were looking better than I could have expected.
I started walking at 10, figuring I’d have about an hour walking on the road first. It’s a 4WD and mountain bike track, and though the start seemed in very good condition, there were a few quite rutted sections, and one decent sized tree down that would take a bit of chainsawing to clear. I came across random bits and pieces off cars – testimony to the nature of the track. I was very glad I was on two feet. A bike would have been handy, though there would still have been a fair bit of dismounting, unless, with child like glee, you dared to test the depth of every single puddle you came across… beware though, there are some very boggy bits ;)!
I couldn’t help but admire the forest by the side of the road, and hoped that that might be what I would be walking through (though I was highly sceptical). In case it wasn’t, I took a slight detour, just so I COULD walk through some of it. As I approached the Saw Back Range, I was on the lookout for Ibsens Peak, but it hid behind the trees until I was past. Looking back, I decided if I didn’t have time for it then (and I doubted it) I would return one day. It was nice and pointy, both rocky and scrubby, and it appealed to my idea of a mountain. I happened across a cairn on the right of the road, and two tapes.. on closer inspection there was a pad too.. I optimistically hoped it might be for my mountain, but it was still much too far away, and I assumed it went to Ibsens.. I made note for next time.
When I got to Welcome Rock an hour and ten minutes after having started, I felt less than welcome.. I stood on a mound, then another, checking out the route ahead. It looked green.. and scrubby. Oh well, it was to be as I’d heard and expected. No surprises there, unfortunately. On went the overpants and rain jacket.
I set off and after the first few metres found the going surprisingly easy. I seemed to be on something that had pad-like characteristics heading in the direction I wanted to go. It was largely button grass and tea tree, and a bit of other stuff. Thicker clumps surrounded rockier sections as I contoured north, and though a tad annoying as they necessitated either a climb or a drop to get around, the conglomerate was impressive.. One rock in particular was massive, and as I passed I thought how it would make a perfect lunch spot for a walking group (except it wasn’t in an ideal location – you’d reach it either too early or too late for lunch).
I continued on, the relatively easy going lulling me into a false sense of security, along with the number of broken trees and branches that seemed to suggest something heavier and rougher than wildlife had been through on the same path. After I’d passed below a number of ‘the saw teeth’ that make up the southern end of the range, I headed up to climb my ‘tooth’. Probably I should rewrite that.. I slipped and slithered down almost as much as I clawed, pushed, fought, sweated and swore my way up. The bauera had chosen the wrong place to grow, and I wasn’t particularly patient with it! In parts it was easier to almost crawl, in other parts I was paradoxically as glad of it for the purchase it gave as I tried to haul myself up particularly steep bits, as I was frustrated that it wouldn’t then let me through.
After a lot of puffing and panting I finally found myself on the ridge, in a saddle between my bump and the one next to it, and was grateful that the scrub was minimal in comparison to what I’d just come through. Following nose and head, there was really only one way up, and there was definite evidence that people had been this way before. A short sharp climb led to conglomerate rock, which was nice and slippery. I took extra care, as I wasn’t wearing boots I trusted, and had completely forgotten to tell anyone where I was (I only thought about it when I parked my car, by which stage it was too late). It was also a little bit ‘straight down’ in (most) spots from there to the summit. A slip would be painful, if not dangerous. But the scramble over the rock was short (and still fun), and there I was on the summit. I checked to make sure it was the highest point (yep, phew!).
It wasn’t such a bad view, either, and certainly better than I’d expected given the forecast. The Needles and Mueller out eastish, Thumbs and Clear Hill to the north, Wedge and the Sentinel Range to the south, with the Frankland Range behind. I checked out the Ragged Range to the west, doubting it would be any less scrubby! The sun came and went, and rain and snow clouds hid and revealed mountains as I watched. They stayed away from me, for which I was grateful, though I doubt I could have got any wetter!
A few photos, before my fingers went numb and I figured it was time to find my way back. I started off retracing steps, then figured I’d just head straight down. When that got horrible, I decided maybe contouring back was a better idea, but I’d dropped too low, so when the nicer stuff ran out I went back to the straight down approach. At least it was downhill, which tends to make falling an almost productive form of movement. There were a lot more holes and cutting grass, and parts where I found myself walking a metre or so above the ground, waiting to fall through. A good deal of effort later, and I hit the road. I looked back, shook my head, and was glad I hadn’t gone that way up!
Needless to say, I enjoyed every easy step of the road walk back! Oh to feel tired from physical exertion :D!!
All up: 5:02 hrs, 602m ascent, 13.4km… of that, 2.5 hrs and 11.3km were on road, 1:20 hrs and 1.1km for the ascent, and 1 hr and 842m for the descent. It’s not often that the descent is pretty much as slow as the ascent, particularly through scrub!
Oh, and the quote… ‘The cure for loneliness is solitude’.. Not that I was lonely, far from it actually.. but I did feel like some solitude, in a place that feels more like home than my own house (even though I might have cursed the scrub most of the time I was in it!)
PS, sorry for the lower resolution photos.. I’m running out of space, but you get the idea!