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Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:25 am
I am getting behind in trip reports, sorry.
I had managed to finally explore some of the Vic Alps in 2014.
But having savoured the delights of spring, I thought it would be good to check out some more.
The original plan was to do a father/son walk, but other things prevailed and I ended up doing it as my 3rd solo trip.
So it was off in a hire car [due to other family demands] and head off to Mt Bogong for a 3 night 4 day adventure.
I had seen a curious pointed rocky mountain on a previous trip near Echuca, and this time dropped in on the granite outcrops of Mt Hope near Pyramid Hill on the way over.
A nice diversion, it has a large granite outcrop called Suicide Rock which appears to be popular for rock climbers and I saw one of the local rock wallabies.
Next day I had some good views of Mt Buffalo before turning off at Ovens towards Mt Beauty. Mt Bogong stands tall above Tawonga where I turned into Mountain Creek Road.
About 12:10 pm I threw the pack on and headed off along the 4 wheel drive track to the base of the Staircase arriving at 12:45pm.
There I met a young Policeman who was waiting for his companion. They were doing some outdoor training and had come from Cleve Cole Hut.
He remarked that the wind had been very strong over the top - not a place to be caught out in.
Me ? I have come to trust the BOM forecasts as long as they are for 1 or 2 days out, and they indicated that the wind would be moderating a lot late afternoon.
And so I began the famed climb up the Staircase with my 25kg pack on a warm afternoon. An older chap came scurrying down having run up to Bivouac Hut and back just for exercise.
Then higher up I came across the poor other Policeman who looked to have a big pack and 2 sticks as walking poles.
He complained that he could have done with the other one coming up to help by taking his pack as his knees where suffering.
And that was it. They were the last people I saw until my descent 3 days later.
Got to Bivouac Hut at 3 pm and a short look around. Then up and finally above the tree line with some great views opening up.
Near Castor and Pollux I gazed as a Wedge Tail drifted up and over on the air currents.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:31 am
Got to the top cairn at 5:40 pm and considered my options for camping.
This is indeed an extremely exposed spot, but the BOM had been right and the wind was now moderated, but still noticable.
With a few wet fingers in the air, I finally settled on a spot close to the cairn so that it acted as a wind break - and it was a great night.
I happened to be up there on the full moon - so as the sun was setting, the large orb was rising in the opposite side.
Being the top of Victoria, the views are extensive in every direction. I fondly noted the distant outline of the Viking, the Crosscut Saw and Howitt among others to the south.
To the North, the Main Range marched across the skyline. The telephoto lens indicated the remnant snow patches.
That was one of the things I was looking forward to on Bogong, but there were only a few small patches left here.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:36 am
It was a cool night and the wind faded to nothing. So up early in the morning to catch the sunrise.
Whereas I had seen the moon in the pink glow of sunset, now it was positioned in the pink glow of sunrise.
With no trees, the wind swept landscape has a few low shrubs which are home to some small birds.
They are quite curious in that they accelerate up to vertical in a grand curve and then fall like a stone before arcing to land on another shrub.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:41 am
The distant Howitt area was now lit up rather than the previous evenings silhouette.
A lot of peaks were lit up in the morning light. A distant Hotham is beckoning for a crack at Feathertop via the Razorback. And camping on the Fainters was an appealing thought.
After soaking up this glorious setting, it was time to don the pack and head off – 8:18 AM.
The track was rather crunchy under foot and close examination showed long crystals of ice had formed out of the damp ground overnight. I left the track at the base of Hooker Plateau and headed up. I drifted to the western edge for some views before arcing back to the south east to descend into Stirling Gap.
The pack was dropped here and as I went up to West Peak I found a close in patch of snow and made the small requisite snowman. I even cleaned up a ball of snow for an icy confection. I had read about the alternative route in over Little Bogong and the ridge out to it looked like fun. The stories of scrub had put me off, but with more time, a camp out in its saddle could be quite interesting.
There is a large cairn on this peak as well and it gave great views along the west face of Bogong and over the rest of the day’s route to the Bogong High Plains. [9:21 AM]
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:47 am
Back to the saddle, pick up the pack and then the search was on for water. The Bogong Creek starts from soaks in Stirling Gap. Initially they are a kind of terraced swamp and it was easy to step into some very wet patches. There was still ice on the surface of some of the pools. Further down, the trickles accumulate and it forms a strong flowing stream. Very pretty with the alpine plants and pineapple grass. There are parts here that remind me of Tassie highlands, with even the odd small patch of cushion plant.
Having replenished the supplies, I gave up on the idea of going further down the basin to see the Bogong Creek Falls. And so it was up and onto the top of Quartz Knob and Quartz Ridge. This is a fantastic route with views and marvellous rock structures. Unfortunately, the Falls were not visible from the track.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:48 am
Just superb eggs, what incredible weather and photographs. Thank you so much for sharing
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Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:54 am
In amongst the trees, the track can get a little hard to find. It was very grassy and there were places where the grass led in several directions with no obvious trampling. But in general, it was not too bad.
However, when getting on the steeper bit towards the bottom, it had a few more log falls to contend with and the actual junction with the track to Cairn Creek Hut was obvious coming down, but I suspect it would be very easy to miss when coming up that way.
However, I was soon down onto the Big River Fire Track [12:30 PM] and got out some lunch next to the good creek flowing under it there. I was a bit surprised however to find a leech crawling on my gear. I had dropped the pack in some lush grass, and I now realised it was actually a spring with water oozing out. No wonder the leech felt quite at home.
Restarted at 1:04 PM and on the warm afternoon it was down the beautiful grassy 4 wheel drive road to the first crossing of the Big River.
No wet feet here as I negotiated the line of stepping stones.
Then it was the long and winding climb up to Timms Lookout. The heat was more noticeable here as the road was more open to the sun, but by the time I got above the tree line again, the cloud had built up for some shade.
The road bypasses Timms Lookout, so I looked for a spot where I could clamber up and then head back out to the tip for a look. There was a pad that looks like it goes the full length of the spur to the Trig Point.
Great vantage place to see all of Bogong across the Big River valley, and I loved the view back along the ridge to the High Plains. There were also a few very red Robins among the rocks.
The High Plains suggested a lot of enjoyable exploring for another day.
Last edited by eggs
on Thu 03 Mar, 2016 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 9:57 am
For now, I was headed for Roper Hut and I decided to take a short cut across the swamp.
Arriving at Ropers Hut around 5:40 PM I noticed no water tank, but later figured that the goat track at the back leads down to the stream. A delightful spot and plenty of water.
I spread out in the hut to cook tea where I discovered that my gas ran out. Bother! Now it would be cold food and drink for the rest of my time. I also noticed the big notice on the door saying people were not to sleep in the hut unless it was an emergency. I ummed and arred, but eventually decided I better do the ‘right’ thing and set up my tent on the lovely grass outside. I was later told by some locals that it would have been fine to use the hut for sleeping. The chief reason for the sign was because someone had been known to spend a lot of winter holed up there, taking over the entire hut as his home and going into Falls Creek for supplies from time to time.
That night, the Full Moon made an eerie sight through the trees.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 10:02 am
Next day was early to see the sunrise on Bogong from the creek.
Heading off at 8:50 AM, I worked my way down the Australian Alpine Walking Track [AAWT] which was actually a rougher and quite steep forest track here to Big River by 10:50 AM. Taking the boots off for the crossing, I had to be carefully to avoid the many bees milling around the water’s edge. Grabbing the chain, it was an interesting crossing due to the slippery feel in some of the deeper parts, but I was later told that getting the bottom of my shorts wet meant that the river level was very low. Wow – I wonder how bad the crossing can get.
Boots back on, it was now the big climb up T Spur, and I thought the track was pretty good here. I dropped the pack at the grassed junction to Cleve Cole Hut off the AAWT and had lunch at 1:48 PM. Camp Valley is a lovely alpine basin, but I wondered about where I should branch off to Howman Falls. The map seemed to show it leaving the track early on, but it was clear there was a track on the other side leading back to the creek crossing further up the valley. So I continued on to the crossing and left the pack to wander back to the falls. Not spectacular, but they were pretty. However, I was particularly struck with the way these alpine streams are embedded in the grassy slopes and sometimes create isolated pools.
I picked up water back at the creek crossing and headed on up to Cleve Cole Hut [3:20 PM], a very well equipped hut, but clearly some facilities are club related.
I spent a bit of time here looking around and admiring the views, but headed off again at 3:55PM.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 10:07 am
Then it was up above the tree line again with views of some more old snow drifts and the rock bones that make up the mountain.
Over a few humps in the broad arc of the mountain before deciding that Hell Gap at 5:30 pm would be a good place to set up for the night. Tea was a cold affair, but the sunset colours made me think that maybe I should have gone to the top again. Still, both the evening and morning views from here were spectacular.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 10:14 am
Last day and at 9:15 I left to traverse from Hell Gap to the main Eskdale Spur track. I had to cross a few snow patches, but only one had me treading very carefully. Any sliding here would have been a bit of a problem.
I loved the open and rocky top part of this track. Apparently there is a good spot to camp at the junction of the track from Granite Flat Spur, just above the tree line. Here I met some locals who had come up that way for a day trip up Bogong. Clearly a 4 wheel drive up that road provides the fastest access to the mountain.
Having said farewell, it was a short drop to Michell hut at 10:13, and I realised that I had misconstrued the name. Not ‘Mitchell’, but Michell – apparently pronounced as ‘Mishil’.
It looked quite new and flash – but a brief look at the log book was a bit disconcerting. Someone had been through recently and was swearing their heads off at “whoever it was that had left the toilet completely stuffed with rubbish”. It appears that this hut is close enough and easy enough to get to, that some more bogan elements can make life unpleasant for others.
Headed off at 10:38 and got to Camp Creek Gap at 11:30 am. The immediate track heading down from Michell Hut was quite gravely and despite having walking poles the legs/knees felt a bit damaged in the descent. But there was a lovely flowing creek a bit over half way down and the track had improved by then.
From Camp Creek Gap it was down the bush track rather than the road. While it is obvious that blackberries are encroaching on some of that track, there was a significant section of tree ferns to pass through. After that came the long road walk back past the start of the Staircase to Mountain Creek car park. And so I completed the walk at 1:25 pm, just as 2 girls had pulled up ready to run up to the top of Bogong and back for the afternoon.
Next day the weather had come in and heavy rain and low cloud was over the whole of NE Victoria, so I gave up on the idea of a day walk to Feathertop and headed home for an early minute. But my 4 days up top had been in the gap between high winds and the rain. Just perfect.
Thu 03 Mar, 2016 10:48 pm
Missed the comment you slipped in there Giddyup. Thanks.
Fri 04 Mar, 2016 6:51 am
I peaked a bit early eggs. I've walked that part of the world but never with weather like you had. Stunning!
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Fri 04 Mar, 2016 5:01 pm
Another great report and beautiful photos eggs.
My favourite is "Top of Bogong with the Moon in the sunset glow"
Thanks for posting.
Fri 04 Mar, 2016 7:09 pm
Wow, eggs - so many absolute stunners there! Have you got HDR happening on some of them? So rich.
Great report of a place I love - thanks for taking the time to share it. It still gives me a bit of a jolt to remember how much burned, as the last time I was there was before the fires.
Fri 04 Mar, 2016 7:31 pm
I think only the 2 shots into the sun were hand held in-camera HDR, but I have run most of them through photoshop to bring out the highlights and deepen some colour.
Sun 06 Mar, 2016 4:30 pm
Great report and photo's eggs - I've been thinking of heading up over Easter, I think you my have made my mind up.
Tue 08 Mar, 2016 1:14 pm
Great photos. you should be very proud
Tue 08 Mar, 2016 1:30 pm
Very nice report...great photos. Thanks.
Wed 09 Mar, 2016 7:33 pm
This is why I walk, for these moments.
Will be on Bogong over Easter, hope I get lucky with the weather.
Kev, will look out for you.
Wed 23 Mar, 2016 7:24 pm
Fantastic photos Eggs!
I did a day walk up Bogong and it has lead to a huge fascination with extended walking in the victorian alps, such a beautiful place.
Thu 08 Feb, 2018 6:20 pm
I would never camp above the treeline on Mt. Bogong. You have taken some nice photos at dusk and dawn up there.
Fri 09 Feb, 2018 3:29 pm
paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I would never camp above the treeline on Mt. Bogong.
It's fine as long as it isn't blowing too much. Snowcamping next to the cairn is superb.
Tue 24 Apr, 2018 11:20 pm
Easter Friday and Sunday 2018 on West Peak was beautiful. Weather was quiet enough for fuel reduction burns in all directions - just added to the haze of sunset. Will be back there soon - thanks Eggs for the report and photos.
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