Day 1- Rooftop Walk: Mountain Creek Campground to Roper Hut (24km)
Tuesday February 23, 2016
This is it, our last long hike before we leave for the Pacific Crest Trail. It will be a test of our fitness, suitability of our gear, our commitment to keep going when tired and the discipline to keep a daily the blog. We are doing a 130km out and back section on the Australian Alpine Walking Trail. The section we chose to walk is in the Victorian Alps and traverses over Victorias’ highest peak, Mt Bogong through Falls Creek and then Mt Hotham where we plan to turn around and do it all again in reverse.
So far we can’t seem to escape school groups. Last night we pulled into the Mountain Creek campground. When we arrived no one was there. Ten minutes later a minibus pulled up, full of school kids with enourmous packs. They spent ages milling around and no sign of putting up tents. At 5pm they started hiking. Perfect, finally we can enjoy the quite of the forest. Ten minutes later another minibus pulled up. Full of slightly older boys and they were camping for the night. There goes the serenity. In the morning we packed up and got going before they started to stir.
We started walking from the base of Mt Bogong at Mountain Creek campground near Tawonga. The climb up Mt Bogong is a brute. It has 1400m in elevation gain over 9km. The morning air was cool, we were fresh and the climbing seemed easy despite our fully loaded packs. In a bit over three hours we reached the summit of Bogong. Lou-Seal was thrilled to bag another peak.
The landscape throughout this area is still dominated by the ghostly stands of gums burnt in the 2007 fires. Although there are signs of a good recovery. The trail was alive with thousand of grasshoppers. At times it looked like the ground was moving as we approached.
It was very windy on top of Mt Bogong. We huddled behind the rock cairn for a short while and then took off along Rocking Stone Saddle following the numbered poles towards the ruins of Madison Hut.
Here we headed up T-Spur for a short section before a long descent and the crossing of Big River. All was going well until we started the steep descent to the river. It was so overgrown and steep, I nearly slipped a few times. Temperature was in the mid 30’s and we started to dream about how nice the cool water of the river is going to be for a swim.
It seemed to take forever to get there. But eventually we arrived and spent the next hour cooling off in the river.
The climb out of Big River, known as Duane Spur, can best be described as a bastard. In 5km there is over 600m of elevation gain. This took us just a bit over two hours to do and a bit of cursing (by me).
We arrived at Roper Hut 24km and 10 hours after we started from camp, absolutely soaked in sweat and shattered. My feet felt like tenderised schnitzels. Tested by heat, terrain and heavy packs….we survived Day 1.