Walkers: Josie, Luke, Christian, Nat, Tony, Teresa, Andrew, Maia, Mariana, Humberto, Samantha, Phillip.
The walk was popular for an overnight walk, with many exchange students signing up and making use of the club gear supplies. Much thanks to Nat, Teresa and Tony for helping me pack and unpack the gear locker. The morning of the walk was eventful as our third driver Tim had a family disaster and had to pull out. Thankfully, he could still drive 3 people to the start of the walk at Dunphy’s Camping Ground, and we adopted the laissez faire approach as to how they would get back out.
We started walking about 10:30-11:00, opting to take the ‘direct’ route down Carlon’s Creek as I was slightly worried about the time, and it would be more interesting. We spent an hour with the lush nettles but only got a few stings. The walk up Blackhorse Ridge was more memorable, with close to 400m of ascent. Christian kept us motivated with updates from the altitude watch, and Tony with jokes… ‘are you sure this walk is for beginners? Are we doing K2 tomorrow?’ We started seeing a lot of spring wildflowers, and there was a heavy scent of wattle in the air.
We had lunch at the top of the ridge at 1pm, with a great view of the mountains to come. Walking along the ridgetop was flat and easy, and indeed for the rest of the weekend everything seemed flat compared to the first part.
We headed up Blackhorse Gap and picked our way through a currently tricky beginning to the Wombat’s Parade. After the first 50m it was reasonable going, and not particularly wet. No leeches were seen. Luke found a coal seam in the side of the cliff and picked up a couple of pieces to test in the campfire.
At the end of Mt Warrigal is a small pass down. We opted for pack-handing. 12 people slowly one by one takes a while but it was a good chance for a breather. We headed up to the grassy plain on Mt Merrimerrigal. I couldn’t pick up a good track through the grass so we went through the open trees on the left hand side.
Mt Dingo seemed like an excessive series of small inclines for our tired legs. As usual, a bit trackless but you can’t exactly miss the direction. We ran down to Splendour Rock to enjoy the view. Some stayed to watch the sunset while some put up tents and started the fire. We were the only group up there which was good as we were so large (in fact I don’t think we saw anyone all weekend).
No-one was much in the mood to learn how to use their stove so we used the fire and boiled extra water on a few stoves. The evening was extremely pleasant, and no particular wind disturbed our night, even though we camped right towards the end and it was quite exposed. Well, the one particular wind was Tony snoring like a foghorn, thankfully not all night but long enough to fairly piss off his tentmate, who shall retain his privacy.
The next morning Christian and Nat, at least, made the dawn wakeup to photograph the clouds drifting through the valleys below. The clear, mild weather was perfect for admiring the views.
Christian, Luke and I examined the Thommos Chains and Luke made a climb down, but declared it unsuitable for the party. I have done it once before but was terrified. So we took the easy pass off the side of Mt Dingo.
The rest of the day was a straightforward march around the foothills, with a nice break at Mobbs Swamp for water. We went back past Mt Mouin but didn’t feel up to the climb – another time. From Medlow Gap we followed the fire trail back to our cars. I think this section would be very hot in full summer but was still reasonable in September.
Tim was not available so somehow we all got in two cars, before dropping off Nat and Maia at Blackheath for safety reasons.
Perfect weather made for a spectacular weekend and hopefully a good introduction to overnight walking!
Christian’s photo selection (very good, recommended): https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0096009/photos/107791016@N07/sets/72157647198992460/