This is a trip that is local and I do regularly enough,so something I wouldn't feel compelled to typically write a trip report on, but I thought with the world shrinking due to COVID19 and the fact that I encountered 2x other parties up there who had traveled some distance to walk as their very first 'eased restrictions adventure' that it would be worthwhile sharing.
The weather forecast was pretty dismal, with 80 kph winds predicted. The temps were predicted to dip sub sero and there was an excellent chance of snow. I had a few days off and was keen to be in my tent again after bushfires and then COVID putting a stop to anything other than day walks. I deliberated over my gear choices, packed, unpacked and packed again and then added in a few redundancies should it all go to poo for me up there. The second day I was to be away was looking not as foul as the first, so I wrote a detailed trip plan with my two options to give to my husband, who also watches me from home via the Inreach mapping page. I elected to take the XMid over my solid interior Marmot tent as I felt that although a 'colder' tent with the mesh sides, the XMid was the more storm worthy of the two and had withstood some crazy winds in Victoria last year.
I got to Lagoon Pinch carpark and was surprised to see another car there, then as I was lugging my pack on, another turned up with 3 guys about my age (late 30's/40's) from the ACT who were originally planning on going up overnight but decided to day walk due to the weather. I went on ahead of them and powered on up the Corker, near the turn off to Selby Alley Hut, I encountered two other walkers, who were wearing only light cotton hoodies and had a very small daypack shared between the two of them. I did worry that they didn't seem to be well prepared. It was sunny but extremely cold and windy at that moment... by the time I got to the junction of the Link and Corker Trail the weather had rolled in and snow and ice were wailing down. It was about lunch time, so I made for the dunny at Wombat Creek, where I settled in to have a lovely lunch and a hot coffee. Classy. I decided to go with my other plan, which was not to walk very far the first day, deciding that it was better to bunker down in my tent. I refilled my water at Wombat Creek and pottered on up to Careys Peak, passing the 3 guys I had seen in the carpark near the junction of trails that lead to Careys Peak or Black Swamp.
--Now here I will add something about being a solo female- I am happy to walk on my own and accept that in terms of axe-murderers I am more likely to get in strife walking to my car in a carpark BUT if encountering a group of males who are asking what my plans are, where I am overnighting etc, I can be very cagey and noncommittal. I am sure these guys were nice and just interested, but telling them my plans was not something I wanted to do. I would have appeared defensive, socially awkward and seemed to have an ill prepared plan as I was purposefully vague, yet in reality I had a very clear plan which those at home were aware of- I just didn't want to share it with a group of men in the middle of nowhere. Oh and I am typically not socially awkward. Much
The direction that the wind was blowing meant that the little saddle upon which the primitive hut stands was not too exposed at all in the scheme of things and there is a nice clearing where I felt confident that no snow gum would land on me. I whacked the XMid up,orientating it to maximise its chance of still being standing in the morning, changed out of my walking clothes and settled into a nice afternoon of reading, drinking port and eating a metric tonne of fruit and nut cheese.
The weather continued to rage and the snow continued to fall. I was all warm and cosy and had enough mobile reception that my husband sent me a pic of him, the kids and the dogs all lounging by the fire at home. Cheeky!
The tent performed beautifully and I only had to do one adjustment as the ridgeleine had got a touch of slack in it and the particularly big gusts would lift it enough that my trekking pole handle (I go tip down with it) would slip from position. I contemplated going outside and adjusting the guylines, but opted to fix it from the comfort of my sleeping bag and just whack my trekking pole 2cm higher on that side which re-tensioned everything and had no further issues. I slept well other than waking at midnight and needing to peel a layer off as I was too hot.
I woke to a clear morning, the temp was definitely warmer than the previous day and the icy snow that was laying around told me as much. I had a lesiurely brekky and wandered to the lookout, then headed off along the Barrington Trail, turning off onto the Edwards Swamp Trail to go out toward Junction Pools. I hadn't realised just how far the bushfires had reached on the plateau. Within 1.5-2km of Carey's Peak I started seeing signs of the fire, the charred trees such a contrast with the white of the snow. I crossed the many streams and rivers on Edwards Swamp Trail and loved seeing the beautiful alpine swamps. I saw plenty of kangaroos and signs of wombats, but the only animals I came close to was a group of wild pigs, the boar was HUGE ,thankfully moving off when I whacked my trekking poles together, but I had been eyeing off nearby trees I could scale in case they didn't take my hint
Just before crossing the Barrington River, I encountered a large mob of brumbies. Seeing them is always a mixed bag for me. In the main instance I am angry and sad that they are damaging the national park yet if I am honest, a tiny bit inside me finds joy and wonder to encounter them. I blame Tom Burlinson and the Man From Snowy River for my somewhat shameful flicker of excitement at seeing them.
Arriving at Junction Pools, I scaled down the river bank and decided to cross at what in retrospect, was a stupid spot. Although wider, it looked as if I could get across on rocks and avoid any wading. I got two thirds of the way across and realised my legs are not as long as I thought and then had to sit on a rock and better plan out my crossing. It was a very pretty spot to ponder my error though, with snow still on the rocks and gorgeous surrounds.
After my crossing I headed along the Aeroplane Hill Track, which was not overly attractive since the fire had meant the trail had been made wider for vehicle access presumably and there were many burnt and fallen trees. It was churned up and was equal parts like walking on a 7-11 slushie where the icy snow persisted or shoe-sucking mud in the other sections.
I had planned on eating lunch at Black Swamp and had just started applying a ridiculous amount of vegemite to my wraps when I saw two other walkers coming down the trail from the opposite direction. We exchanged greetings and they asked if I would mind if they sat and joined me for lunch. These gentlemen were walkers, just out there doing what I was and I felt totally at ease with them. As flaky as it sounds, so much of social interaction in these situations is on 'gut feeling' for me.
We had a lovely chat and I learned they were from the North Coast and had overnighted the night before at Wombat Creek, being tent bound from the early afternoon as I had. They had been to Careys Peak that morning and had seen the square in the snow of where my tent had been and had wondered who it had been. They had a further 2 nights planned and we exchanged info about routes and spots to camp. They were really nice guys. It was one of those wonderful, chance meetings that we happened to converge in the same spot at the same time. We bid each other farewell as they headed off to Junction Pools.
Not much more to say, except that I fairly flew down the Corker from there, with thoughts of chicken, chips and gravy on my mind.
It was a beaut two days away. Although local to me, I looked at the area and this trip with a new wonder and joy, recognising it for the privelege that it really is.
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- Looking toward home
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- Barrington River
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- Junction Pools
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- Fire and ice
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Last edited by Ms_Mudd
on Thu 04 Jun, 2020 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.