Monday, January 25, 2010

The Last Peak Of The Decade

It was time to leave the Australian Highlands.  The decision came because we were ready for a hill climb and it just wasn't going to happen if we stayed at 1500 meters.  So once again we packed up camp hoping to find a suitable spot at our next destination.

The fields of Alpine Heath and forest of Snow Gums turned to splendid Mountain Gums as we slowly wound our way down the mountain.  As we crossed the valley floor we could see Mt. Bogong, 1986 m, on our right.  Climbing to the peak of the towering mass would be our challenge the following morning.
As we pulled into the Mountain Creek Picnic Area we were once again blessed.  Not because there was a lack of people, but because there was a family pulling out of a an isolated spot that boasted a creek view.  We were pleased with our new "home."

On the last day of 2009 we woke up early.  We had read that the hike up Mt Bogong was strenuous and could take up to 9 hours.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy but we weren't going to let rain keep us from our goal of bagging the highest peak in Victoria. We double checked for rain and cold weather gear, and hit the trail.   We weren't the first to sign; at the log book there were 4 groups in front of us, so we wouldn't be alone on the mountain.
We decided to head up the Staircase and if time permitted return via the Eskdale Spur.  The 16 km track to the summit followed a fire track to where we would begin our climb.  Overall the trail was steep, but the grade fairly consistent as we climbed through forests of Peppermint Gums.  Just before the Bivouac Hut, which represented the half way point of the climb, we passed two of the groups in front of us.  Here the trail moved from the dense forest to the the steep rocky ridge that would lead us to the summit plateau.

Once we were out on the exposed treeless plain it became apparent we would not have much of a view--the peak was socked in.  However, we continued with hopes that the wind would perhaps blow the clouds out while we made the final ascent.  Large poles marked the trail and were easy to follow in the foggy conditions.  The wind slapped our hands and face and we considered pulling out our winter gear, but decided we would do that if needed at the peak.   The final climb was quick, and soon a huge cairn marking the summit appeared before us.  We had made the climb in just over 2.5 hours and were in good shape to complete the loop.  Unfortunately the cloud cover was still thick and rotating around the peak, so we decided to head to lower ground for lunch.

We found a perfect rock outcrop right before we were to reenter the tree-line.  As we sat and ate lunch, the clouds around us slowly began to lift.  The group of 4 men that we had passed on our descent would be treated to some spectacular 360˚ views, an experience not meant for us.  However, we could not complain as we sat on the monumental mountain looking north over the valley far below.
The Eskdale Spur proved to be equally steep as the staircase, and it quickly took us back to the forest floor.  We then had a 5.5 km hike along the moist, fern-filled river banks back to camp.

8.5 hours after we had set out, we walked back into camp.  The hike may not have provided a fruitful vista from the top, but it was a wonderful way to end what had been a exciting and adventurous 2009.


  1. Hi Maya, beautiful photos and it sounds like a really wonderful and challenging hike to the top.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Hi Kathy, it was a fun hike. Not as hard as I expected. Sometimes trails here turn into rock climbs at the top, but this one wasn't too bad.
    Thanks for reading all of my posts :)