Ray Yaxley 2017
The sun was slowly scorched the sun-baked midlands as we progressed our way south. The afternoon drifted by as Fleetwood macs Gold dusted women, Queen’s too much love will kill you and The Police every breath you take songs belted out of one of those new-fangled IPod things. My walking companion sang softly along, in-between discussing her chemistry thesis and intended research trip. She needed a break from the books, from her research just to get back to simple things. The other companion had to work, we did miss her and her smile. I too needed the escape, to work out where I was going as life was becoming increasingly complex. Of choices that needed to be made, but couldn’t be made at the same time. But I was excited by the prospect of spending five days climbing one of the most beautiful mountains ranges in Tasmania.
Eventually, we arrived at the deserted carpark. Angry clouds had started streaming in from the North West, as we shouldered heavy packs as we set off, the range we were climbing loomed large on the horizon. As we walked the first few kilometres you could sense my companion relaxing. Her multi-level analysis of variance was starting to become a distant thought. Then the slog began. In fading light, the dank smelling mud got deeper. Ankle to calf, calf to knee, knee to waist. Floundering along by torchlight we crossed the final, fast flowing stream. Cold, tired and hungry we set up camp for the night.
The next morning the sun did rise; somewhere, behind the rain clouds. Coffee with condensed milk was required to get us going. A long day on the trails awaited, climbing up onto the cloud covered range we could no longer see. We were excited but nervous with the wind driving the rain across the button grass plains. Fast forward three hours we were still climbing the range we were yet to really see. Lunch taken under an overhanging boulder provided temporary respite, but the cold was clutching at us with increasing furry as we climbed higher. Despite my walking companion being able to smash out 18 chin-ups she was finding it a long draining day (incidentally so was I). We eventually got to the top of the range, pummelled by driving rain and silenced by the winds roar. The track passed through rocky pulpits of black Quartzite, Pre-Cambrian in its antiquity. Folded and distorted by forces deep within the earth, these rocks were further scored by several glaciers as the aeons slowly passed. Eventually, we stumbled on the glacial lake that was to be our night’s camp. Being very cold, tired and hungry we set up camp, cooked tea in the tent and collapsed in an exhausted slumber as the jet stream roar of the wind continued.
The silence of the next morning had startled me. The wind was gone and a thick veil of silent mist covered our alpine campsite. I slowly walked down to the lake shore, where the glacial sandy beach contrasted the grey gloom surrounding us. My companion joined me, and in silence we just watched the world go by, we knew what each other was feeling. Tired, physically sore but mentally recharged by the remoteness of the place we found ourselves in. Recharged by the beauty we experienced together of parting mists illuminated by the morning’s sunlight, the craggy glacially sculptured peaks. Peace, tranquillity, solitude of this morning has not faded. But the intensity of some experiences bloggers can’t capture, nor do the photographs do it justice.
Reluctantly, we left for our next campsite, knowing we would be returning this way. The weather while improving from the foul tempest that was yesterday, was still far from ideal. The pack’s weight was cutting, like a cat of nine tails into our shoulders, our bodies were tired from the consent physical exertion we were unfairly placing on them. Today was no exception, traversing a glacially carved range, there is very little flat walking, lots of up and lots of down. But on one level, we no longer felt the pain: just thinking about the untouched beauty around us and who we were there with. The day passed slowly, each climb brought new views of misty mountains, a chance to catch our breath and delay the knee-jarring slippery descent.
In the fading afternoons light, we came across the glacially carved lake that prompted this blog series. The wind was rustling the pandanis speaking like the children of the forest, in hushed tones that no one can understand. Nestled in the cirque, several hundred metres below the lakes leaden waters was capped with angry white waves crashing into another small pink quartzite beach. In the distance the range continued twisted, convoluted into the mists as the wind-pruned shrubs shook angrily, signalling it was time to carry on. The scramble down the decaying glacial headwall gave our tired bodies a kick of adrenaline as several loose boulders were dislodged, falling away beneath our feet. We paused at the glacial beach to refill the water bottles before setting up camp. Exhilarated to be in such a location, we cooked tea outside the tent just watching the clouds engulf the nearby mountaintops. But sad in the knowledge that tomorrow we were heading towards home, back to the #UTASLife and back to the choices awaiting both of us.