Snowy Walk 2018

2018 wasn’t a big year for bushwalking and had been pretty stressful, especially for Grandpa with family stuff, work, grandkids etc. but I had another week long walk through the Snowy Mountains in December. This time we headed north from Kiandra and followed the Australian Alps Walking track to Bimberi Peak and then out to Blue Waterholes. I joined the same NPA group as last year camping next to lovely old and historic huts each night.

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We were to meet early on Monday morning in Cooma, so on the way down, I visited our daughter and grandkids. It was hot, so they headed off for a swim in the creek, then out to the back paddock to find a suitable Christmas tree. We spent the rest of the afternoon making decorations and playing with puppies.

Sunday afternoon, I set out for Cooma and fuelled up just down the road. Never before have I done this, but I put petrol into my diesel car! Ahhh! Only 5 litres but I didn’t know if this was enough to cause a problem. Blokes in the service station were not sure either and there was varying courses of advice from other customers. I would trust Grandpa’s advice but with the wonderful NBN now connected at home not working and Grandpa not having a mobile phone, I couldn’t call him. The neighbours were out, other mechanically minded friends were not answering their phones either and NRMA would just tow my car to the nearest service centre and work on it tomorrow. So I could only take the safe option and called my son-in-law to come and help. Wonderful Todd, came with jerrycans and tools and drained the tank so I could refill it with diesel.

So finally, I was on my way, much later by now. Eventually, everyone got back to me and they all said “no worries, that amount wouldn’t have caused a problem”. Next time, I will know.

One of the best parts of going for a long walk is the preparation. I like to dehydrate some of my own food as I know what is in it and it tastes just as good rehydrated. This time I tried Hommus and bananas as well as the old standby spag bol and a nice lamb curry. The hommus and flat bread was for lunch which is the trickiest meal to plan for. It was great for the last few days when cucumbers and cheese had expired.

I also like to go low tech, so we have stuck to our Trangia but it is difficult to decide on how much metho to take. I have taken 1 litre for a week long walk and had lots left over so I thought 500ml should do it. After the first night cooking and rehydrating dinner and a cup of tea, I thought, no way was this going to last the whole week. But I found that if I only put a small amount of metho in the burner it boiled the water so much quicker and noodles could just be brought to the boil and let stand to become ’al dente’. Lesson 1.

Barely had we got ourselves settled into our walk, when it was boots off for our first creek crossing, a double crossing in fact, a creek and then 20 metres to the Eucumbene River. Even though it is midsummer, the water was flowing fast and cold. The day was quite chilly and windy but the weather was meant to warm up during the week.

We walked across some wide plains and saw lots of horses and piles of horse shit. The first night was spent near Witse’s hut, there were lots of gaps between the slabs but it was a good place for a fire and chat. The clouds came over grey but there was no rain.

Day two was clear and sunny with numerous creek crossings and then Murrumbidgee River. Lots of undulations today with some bush bashing and it got much warmer. First time ever, I started to get blisters. Lesson 2 – wear boots a few times before long walk to get feet used to them again. Tonight at Miller’s hut, a mish-mash of corrugated iron, was a very pleasant spot near a creek for a wash.

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Day three started cloudy which is a good thing as my legs got sunburnt yesterday. Lesson 3, the UV rating is much higher down here and wearing shorts at home is not the same thing as wearing shorts here in the alpine area. More ‘wild horses’ today and big riding groups camped at the next campground plus road gangs doing up the roads for Snowy 2.0 exploratory work, so it was nice to turn again onto the walking track and we stopped at Hainsworth’s hut for morning tea. There were lots of wildflowers blooming, paper daisies and billy buttons and lots of others I don’t know the names of.

We spent a lot of time discussing the NSW legislation which now gives protection to the wild/feral/horses/brumbies in the Snowy Mountains National Park. In fact gives precedence to the protection of these feral animals OVER our native species. This is so mind bogglingly stupid and has given every ‘horse lover’ in the country somewhere to dump their horses. There are certainly some horses that I imagine ‘look like’ a brumby, whatever that is but there are many hundreds and maybe thousands more that look just like your very nicely bred suburban horse. And they are breeding very well too. Rant over.

We arrived at Old Currango homestead around two. I found two mushrooms growing just near my tent, so that was a gourmet treat to go with my Deb potato, tuna, dried peas and cheese for dinner. We had to walk for water but a cup of tea and a sleep was good. When I woke someone said ‘rain is coming’, so I quickly grabbed dinner makings and stove and headed to the hut. We watched the rain travel down along the valley and miss us completely. What a spectacular sight, I think we have all seen photos like these and it was magnificent. Later, I just sat and watched the sun go down and the birds from my tent, a scarlet breasted robin and gazed out over the plain. Very peaceful.

 

Day four we were ready early and left before 8.30, the day was going to be hot but most of our walking was through forest and shaded. We had lunch at Pocket’s hut, just restored and you could still smell the paint. I also tried my hommus for lunch, fantastic.

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There were gentle undulations until right at the end when it was a severe up and then down to Oldfield’s hut for two nights. I felt one blister pop on the way going down, ouch. Oldfield’s was the best hut so far, you could imagine people living here hundred years ago or more. Now it just seems too close to Canberra airport and peak flight time was rather noisy. There were lots of kangaroos and wallabies, playing, fighting, mating and generally going about their business. Everywhere so far we have been seeing so many feral horses and not a lot of kangaroos, we discussed this and don’t know if that was a real connection or just coincidence. Another reason why the horses shouldn’t be there.

Day five was a day walk up Bimberi Peak. It sounded daunting 15km and 800m ascent and descent. We could see it right in front of us from the hut and it looked big. It is the highest peak in ACT and NSW/ACT border runs right along the ridge, so when we got to the top, we had one foot in ACT and one in NSW. The walk was not rushed and so much easier without full packs on. On the way back, we stopped at the creek for another wash and felt pretty good, even me blisters were feeling better.

Day six we decided to cut short the last night and walked to Blue Waterholes where some of the cars were parked. Then it was all over and back to Kiandra and zoom, back up the freeway to home.

Mt Jagungal (nearly)

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It was a big drive in the afternoon to get down to Cooma for my first walk in the Snowy Mountains area. There had been a lot of discussion about what the weather was going to do. There was a lot of rain on the coast but not a lot forecast for the mountains. So I had sunshine, cloud, grey clouds and rain off and on the whole way down. It was getting late when I arrived in Cooma, so I just had time to buy some dinner, have a shower and try to get to bed at a reasonable time.

Friday morning I was up at 6am to meet the others in Adaminaby at the ‘Big Trout’. There was another hour or more to drive to the start of our walk. We drove higher and higher, 1250m, then 1400m, then 1500m and then remembered that we would be up about 17-1800m on our walk. We had a brief stop at Cabramurra to make a last phone call to Grandpa and wish him a happy wedding anniversary for tomorrow. Ooops, I forgot about that when I booked in for this walk. The wind was howling but not cold, time to put on the fleecy. It was different driving along these roads as usually we only come here on the motorbike, still, I had time to enjoy the scenery. It was good to see that some of the trees were eventually resprouting after those really bad bushfires so long ago and those that were dead and close to the road were being cut down.

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Our walk started from the Round Mountain Fire Trail and it was a last repack and put on warm clothes. We started walking at 9am and the weather was still the same, bit windy, bit cloudy, bit rainy but not too cold.

It is good making new friends as you walk along chatting away. We talked about how good for you walking is and bushwalking in particular. Walking is good for the mind, the rhythm of walking is soothing and meditative, we have evolved walking so the body knows exactly what to do, leaving the mind free to wander. It is a shame in some ways that we have replaced walking with other forms of transport except of course when you want to drive 400km to go for a walk! Walking is very good for your body and depending on how and where you walk, it can have tremendous benefits for your health and strength. The foot striking the ground builds bone strength, while walking uphill and downhill, increasing and decreasing your heart rate is a very basic form of interval training. Trying to keep up with a very fit 72 year old while talking can be a good indication of how fit you really are. But for me, bushwalking is good for the soul. I will be just walking along and then have a big smile on my face just looking around at the world, experiencing the weather, the trees, rocks, flowers, everything.

The wind and rain continued off and on but mostly it was great bushwalking weather, not too hot, not too cold but just right, in short, a Goldilocks day.

I could tell that the training I have been doing is starting to pay off, I could keep up the same pace uphill by using my glutes, as long as the hill was not too long or steep. The track was easy to walk on, an old fire trail that still must be used as some of the creek crossings had new culverts. The water flowing in the creeks was very clean and clear. Would be very nice in summer.

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We passed Round Mountain which from some angles was flat on top, then we got glimpses of Mt Jagungal when the cloud cleared from the top. It is supposedly a ‘bushwalkers mountain’ as it stands alone and you can actually walk up the sides, rather than the other high peaks in the Snowy’s where they are only marginally higher than all the other hills around. There were still lots of flowers out, even though we are heading into autumn, paper daisies mainly, so it would be great to come in spring to see them all. We were heading to Dershko’s Hut and a sheltered camp site with a view of Mt Jagungal.  Dershko’s Hut is nestled in a sheltered valley with a small creek flowing by that we got our water from. It also had a loo with the best view of the sunset later. The walk in was about 17km and we were there by 1.30pm.

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We put up our tents first, in case it started to rain heavier, then collect wood for the fire, then water and a look inside the hut. We decided to stay for a game of cards to pass the afternoon out of the rain.

 

When it started to cool off, we decided it was time to light the fire and get dinner organised. All I had to do was add hot water to my dehydrated spaghetti bolognaise, so that was easy. I was starting to feel a bit stiff, so went for a wander around and enjoy the sunset, it was beautiful. The sky seemed to be clearing in the west but the wind was coming from the east and the forecast didn’t look good for the rest of the weekend. Through the night the wind sounded like a gale but I was snug in amongst the bushes in my little tent.

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It was still drizzling in the morning and the forecast was not looking promising with heavy rain and wind. Not a good day to walk to the top of Mt Jagungal. We discussed it over breakfast and decided that the best thing to do would be to cut the weekend short and walk back. A bit disappointing but I will be coming back later in the year, I might be able to go up Mt Jagungal then. So I packed up my gear without getting too wet and returned back along the track. We met a school group heading to camp at the same spot, we were lucky to miss that tonight.

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We did a detour down to Round Mountain Hut, an original old hut and found a family staying there for the weekend out of the rain. They had ridden in on their mountain bikes. I loved the huge fireplace, one you can get right into and cook up a feast in, if ever we build a shack, that is what I will have in it. There were just some iron frame bunks and a table but it was very cosy.

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We made really good time to get back to the cars with enough time to get home before dark. I would have preferred to go camp and walk somewhere else so the weekend wasn’t wasted but it was our 39th wedding anniversary after all and Grandpa was on his own, so off I headed home. Plus it was the youngest grandson Henry’s 4th birthday tomorrow and I shouldn’t miss that either. Oh, what a busy life!