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!
After a bit of rain on the first couple of days, our glorious run of cool sunny weather continues. Packs heavy with food for the next week, we followed a ridgeline north all day.
A friend of mine once told me about a truck driver she'd met.
For them a 'moment of truth' in observing the reality of the current climate and ecological crises was when they realised how, on familiar routes at the same time each year, the insect strike on the windscreen was nothing like what it used to be.
For me a similar moment occurred with frogs.
As kids, my brothers and I would collect tadpoles and frogs in puddles and then keep them as 'pets' for a few days.
Twenty years later, when my girls were little, frogs and tadpoles were much harder to find in and around Naarm (Melbourne).
Frogs are particularly vulnerable to climate and environmental change.
They are a bit like the canaries in a coalmine.
It was nice to see lots of little frogs in the puddles along the track today.
Photo: Frog on a rock, Campbell Gome
Elevation gained today: 715m
Total elevation gained: 5985m
Distance today: 17km
Total distance: 130km
Photo: Campbell Gome
Even with a La Niña summer and recent rain, water was always going to be a key consideration on this section of the Australian Alps Walking Track, in the mountains now known as the Barries.
Today was one of those days where the key stats belie how tough it was.
The plan was to descend 2km towards a saddle, make a packs off 300m detour to collect water, then head north up a spur to follow a ridge curving east to the night's campsite. 13km all up.
The descent was really slow going, taking nearly two hours instead of the anticipated less than one. This was because of fallen trees crisscrossing the path every few metres, turning it into something more like an army training obstacle course.
Getting over, under or around fallen trees is tough with a pack on. Then the path down to the water was super steep.
We filled up under a canopy of giant tree ferns, which was pretty special (photo looks a bit like molten glass because of the low light setting).
What with one thing and another (did I mention the leeches and the head- high ti-tree scrub on the way up the spur?) we pulled up a few km short of our intended campsite and now find ourselves at the top of our tallest peak so far at just over 1600m.
Mars is sitting near Taurus in the western sky and when I look carefully and then glance away I can see the Seven Sisters (peripheral vision is more light sensitive than central).
We have plenty of water.
Elevation gained today: 815m
Total elevation gained: 6800m
Distance today: 10km
Total distance: 140km
Today we walked through our first patch of forest that burned in the 2019-20 fires.
It was like walking into a wall. Parched leaves littered the track, which was lined with scorched tree trunks.
Acacias and grasses seemed to be coming back well, also some eucalyptus regrowth and seedlings.
Marc, who has a PhD in paleobotany, was particularly concerned about the alpine ash, whose needle-like dead trunks tower above the regrowth in recently burned forests.
An obligate seeder, mountain and alpine ash die in a fire, leaving space for their seeds to regrow.
However, it takes a seedling about twenty years to reach maturity. The implication is that if a mountain and alpine ash forest burns twice within twenty years, it will be very tough for them to recover.
Longer and more severe fire seasons make this increasingly likely.
In pursuit of water we chose to descend from the knobs (east of Mt McDonald) along a steep and treacherous jeep track, coming down something like 800m in 3km.
After a swim in a tributary of the Jamieson River, we climbed back up, but this time over a 10km stretch of track that was quite pleasant.
Shout out to the convoy from Licola who offered us water and confirmed that we are now entering Ngarigu country.
Elevation gained today: 855m
Total elevation gained: 7655m
Distance today: 16km
Total distance: 156km
I woke this morning under an old and spiraling snow gum and will camp tonight under another.
We are back in the sky country, now on Taungurung Lzand.
We walked on jeep tracks for the first half of the day, looking down on mist-filled valleys below.
The afternoon brought a glorious stretch on a well formed foot track passing under the looming amphitheatre of Mt Magdala and Hell's Window.
Despite its current name, tonight's campsite is beautiful - a grassy saddle sheltered by ancient snow gums.
Many of the gums bear deep fire scars from long ago, now fringed with long soft tendrils of lichen.
A couple of hundred metres down on the eastern side, a permanent creek chuckles along its rocky, mossy course. This feels like a very special place.
Elevation gained today: 575m
Total elevation gained: 8230m
Distance today: 11km
Total distance: 167km