Follow the progress of passionate environmental supporter and hiker Campbell Gome as he treks the Australian Alps for Climb It For Climate.
We continue our trek through the Australian Alps and I near my target goal of $1000. Should my walk inspire you, feel free to donate to my Climb It For Climate adventure here, or join up yourself!
The mist settled in overnight and was blowing into our faces from the west as we headed towards Mt Howitt this morning. It had cleared by the time we headed out onto the crosscut saw, a razor thin ridge that runs from Howitt toward Mt Buggery.
This was my fifth time on Mt Howitt and third time across the crosscut saw. It was a favourite place of my Dad's when he was young. He first took me there in 1985, then again with a schoolmate and one of my brothers in 1986. In 1988 another school friend and I walked the Howitt-Speculation-Viking circuit while waiting for our VCE results to arrive. Em and I walked it again in about 1994.
Today the mist had cleared by the time we reached Howitt so we were able to enjoy the spectacular views as we crossed. The ascent up the scalloped ridge to the summit of Mt Speculation, where I was greeted by a family of LBBs*, was also fantastic.
Since setting out we have now ascended a total of over 9,000m, which is more than climbing from sea level to the top of Mt Everest.
If all goes according to plan we will ascend the equivalent of three Everests by the time we finish our walk.
The stats nerds amongst you will have noticed that we've done one third of our ascending in just over a quarter of our walking days. So yes, the days will become less steep on average as we continue.
My understanding is that the fault lines through the Great Dividing Range** run predominantly east to west in Victoria and north to south in NSW.
This means that you get more uppy downy bits*** heading north through the Australian Alps in Victoria, whereas in NSW you get longer plateaus and gentler inclines.
We stopped to top up our water soon after the summit of Speculation****, before heading down to a lower saddle to make camp. In a bit of a rush as it was getting late, I loaded the 4.5L of water into the top of my pack without really thinking about weight distribution on a steep and slippery descent.
Long story short, my left foot skidded and in attempting to straighten I over-corrected and the extra weight at the top of the pack tipped me over head first. I managed to protect my head and the pack protected my back as I did two full somersaults down the slope. My left ankle is a bit tender but should be fine.
*Little brown birds (Brad was a bit further back and unable to assist with a more accurate ID).
** Or as I recently heard Wurundjeri elder Uncle Bill Nicholson call them, the Great Connecting Range.
*** Probably not the technical term.
**** I'm not the first to contemplate the mental state of the colonisers who renamed these peaksDevils window, Mt Buggery, Mt Speculation, Mt Despair, etc. It is nice to think that perhaps they spent a moment of meditative contemplation on Mt Speculation, but I reckon it's more likely related to panning for gold or land deals. Even nicer to think and hope that one day we might relearn and use the original names.
Elevation gained today: 850m
Total elevation gained: 9080m
Distance today: 12km
Total distance: 178km
Not sure if it was Thor, a Nargun or something else, but someone was definitely keeping an eye on us as we climbed up and traversed along the Viking today.
Peals of thunder rolled around all afternoon and lightning lit up the evening, although there were only a few drops of rain.
Today was always going to be a tricky day navigationally and we knew we'd have to carry enough water to get us through the night and next morning, in case we didn't get to our planned water point.
After yesterday's stumble I was even more tentative than usual on the afternoon's long and steep descent.
This slowed us down a bit and it was getting late with a couple of kilometres still to go. We decided to push on into the gloaming, up and over one last hill.
We are back down in tall timber country and this last stretch in tranquil evening light took us through a beautiful forest that has never been logged and hasn't burnt since 1939.
It is sad to think that similar patches of native forest nearby and elsewhere are being logged and will continue to be logged for at least the rest of the decade.
Today was the last day that it's just Marc, Brad and I walking together. For the next little while various friends and family will join us for segments of the walk.
Elevation gained today: 840m
Total elevation gained: 9920m
Distance today: 14km
Total distance: 192km
Walking in the mountains for six weeks is fairly indulgent and requires quite a lot of privilege, planning, resources and support. So it's worth reflecting on: why do it?
On a bus trip from St Kilda to Kings Cross, Paul Kelly describes the feeling that, 'All around me felt like all inside me and my body left me, And my soul went running...'.
Over and above the fresh air and silence, the physical and mental challenges and benefits, it is the possibility of these transcendent or perhaps numinous moments and experiences that walking creates for me.
We are back in granite country for the first time since Baw Baw. Today I learned from Marc that granite forms 20km below the surface of the earth – another reminder of how ancient these mountains are.
Elevation gained today: 1130m
Total elevation gained: 11050m
Distance today: 16km
Total distance: 208km