Friday, January 30, 2009

The sun, the rocks, the flies, and the fabulous experience: Climbing Feathertop, Victoria's Second Highest Peak

Because when the forecast exceeds 40 degrees, the only sensible way to escape the heat is by scaling a mountain - Right?

I finished the day's treck sitting by the roadside near the top of Mount Hotham, fruitlessly attempting to escape the swarm - every fly passed over the last 9km, all of which decided I looked like a meal. I was buggered, thoroughly, after 12km up from the base of the mountains (Harrietville), and another 10 along the Razorback Ridge. I had managed to pick the most difficult route: after the 12 k climb, the Razorback ended up as flat only 'on average'; the path along the ridge climbed and dipped over every peak and into every hollow, in an endless succession of mountainous obstacles. I was sitting - head pounding, legs aching, but content and relieved that the neverending ridge was finally over - hoping for a hitch down the mountain to the van. Sitting, looking at my bicycle, which I had chained to a post so that I could ride it all the way down the hill of Mt Hotham (along the Great Alpine Road), and which would remain chained to that post until I could get the key out of the van, conveniently sitting at the bottom of the hill that I needed to descend.

It was, and still is, a good plan: walk to the top of Feathertop, stroll along the ridge, and coast down the hill on the treadly. It was the execution that was lacking (and much more arduously than expected).

After a relatively early getup (for someone who works late and hasn't slept much for days), I drove the van all the way up Hotham to drop off that bicycle, and all the way back down to start the walk. It's a great road in all vehicles, the Alpine up Hotham: while I obviously didn't have as much fun as on the bike (and took literally three times as long), I still enjoyed driving it in the van. It did mean a chunk out of my walking time, though, and the opportunity for the day to start heating up: by 9am driving down the mountain, the road had already started to melt, and I was losing fluids just driving. By 9:40 I had gotten out of the van at the base of the climb, and was wondering whether all the cyclists I passed on the way down thought the smell of my brakes was as funny as I did.

By 9:45 I was on my way.

The full narrative of my expedition - and all the photos - will be posted when I next get the chance to put something up. Stay tuned!

@JohnSBaxter (coming soon!)

1 comment:

Hamish said...

Great start, I'm looking forward to the next installment...