Another weekend of translating… But everyone seemed to be going away, walking, enjoying the east coast or whatever else. By Sunday I was past having itchy feet. Before I knew it I was checking weather and choosing between a couple of short scrub bashes. Alma won. I shot off a message to Jess to see if she was interested too, with a word of warning about the scrub. She was, so it was on.
After a coolish Sunday night sleeping under the stars (when they poked out from pockets in the cloud), and a lazy start to the morning, we were off. Quiet time is not only reserved for the afternoon, and Jess used the chance to catch up on some sleep.
We arrived at our chosen departure point, just after the Frenchmans Cap track start, and I was relieved to see we wouldn’t be starting off in thick scrub. I’d heard that it was going to be a scrubby walk, from a source that I would usually interpret that to mean it was going to be VERY scrubby (mind you, they’d taken the wrong ridge, I believe). So much so, I had my rarely used and much detested pants on, instead of shorts.
Never one to complain about lighter than expected scrub, we got changed and set off. It looked like we’d have a fairly clear path to the top of the ridge. Mind you, looks can be a bit deceiving, and though it wasn’t scrubby per se (shoulder high tea tree stuff at the worst, but not dense and easy to weave through) it was slimy and slippery underfoot, which meant the climb was on the slower side, having to ensure each step was secure (or risk sliding backwards, which we both did!).
It was hot, and though the pants made pushing through stuff much more comfortable, there was part of me that wished I’d worn shorts. Instead, Frenchmans Cap (which popped up on the horizon after we’d gained a little height) was a good excuse to stop every so often, and there was a slight breeze, which we hoped would increase when we got to the top.
With at least half the climbing done by the time we stood on the ridge, we stopped for a snack, a cool down, and a drink, and a ponder of the way forward. It didn’t look as bad as feared, though there was definitely some scrub to get through. So down we plunged, onto the open saddle and paused, only momentarily, before we ducked our heads and burrowed into the start of the scrub.
A few metres in and we found ourselves walking in relatively open forest, hardly believing our luck. We were slightly to the right of a GPS track I’d found on the internet, but I was hesitant to try to stick too rigidly to it, given how good the going was so far. But it did come in handy!
We were out of the first band of ‘scrub’ in no time, and back to the button grass, tea tree, bauera mix (which in some ways was harder to push through). The hill had started too, which didn’t help! A little bit of weaving through the lighter sections (and the GPS track proved reliable here), and we found ourselves at the start of the real scrub.
Despite fears of a serious, physical bash, we seemed to be on a clear pad. Someone had been through and had cleared a decent tunnel in the scrub, and had also been kind enough to break the scrub at regular intervals, leaving the tops still attached, in a more natural way of marking the route than using tape. It was heartening, and the pad was decent enough, and definitely the ‘path of least resistance’ for it to be too difficult to veer off (on the way up in any case, down is always harder).
And so we made good progress, sheltered a little from the heat of the sun, and popped out of the scrub quite close to the top. Then it was a matter of deciding which was the true summit. There was Alma south, just to our right, which we ducked over to (a whole 28m away!) then we headed north to the point I had marked as the summit, and finally further north again, stepping over the only cairn on the whole walk, towards the point that looked highest (and would hopefully give us a better view north)!
We got there, found the ‘high point’ in the middle of a clump of trees, then went and found a rock with a view to sit on for lunch. Eldon Bluff looked pretty dramatic (I’m really looking forward to the day I’m camped below it, looking back up at its wall of rock), and it was kind of cool to look over towards the Labyrinth area, and wonder what next week would bring (for the Du Cane traverse).
Pretty happy with how the walk had turned out, in light of our expectations, conversation turned to other things in life. It was really rather nice just sitting, chatting, enjoying the views and the sun, and I know I was reluctant to get moving again. But it had to be done, I needed some sleep before work the next morning, and it was getting late-ish.
It was much easier and faster going on the way back, mostly because it was largely all flat or downhill, but in part because we knew what to expect, and then, towards the end, because we wanted to be back at Derwent Bridge before the Hungry Wombat closed (and we weren’t sure if that was 5 or 6!).
All up: 6.8km, 5.36 hrs, 646m ascent. Quite a nice one after all!