Day I wrote about our journey to the Bon Accord Spur and overnight camp at the ruins of the Bon Accord Spur Hut, you can read about it here Day 1 Mt Feathertop On the up and up
The morning could not arrive soon enough, there had been a reasonable dew overnight and I had tossed and turned thinking about water. I was excited to drain the tents fly into a cup and use some bush skills to hydrate without touching our reserves.
The water tasted terrible and I though better of it, probably full of chemicals impregnated into the fly to make it hydrophobic. That was a bust leaving an unpleasant taste in my mouth.
With camp packed up we set about the final ridge that would deliver us to the razor back. With no surprise it was another unforgiving incline the vegetation changing from the lowland bush, to alpine snow gums and low brush that had escaped the fires.
The razor back is more like a meandering ridge, reasonably wide and nothing in the way of sheer or exposed edges. Other than it’s undulating nature with some steep up and downs it’s a pleasant walk on what could otherwise be considered the roof of Victoria.
We stopped at the T intersection for a brief rest and congratulatory punch of the air, the hardest ascents are behind us, or so I thought. At this junction you can either turn right and walk back the short distance to Mt Hotham and the ski resort or push on to the left, 11km to Federation Hut and the turn off to the summit of Mt Feathertop itself.
The sun is beating down and the cool I expect at this altitude has abandoned us, 11km’s looks along way and from here we cannot see Mt Feathertop or the hut which is our destination. The walking is pretty easy but for every down there is an up and I’m growing increasingly concerned about our water reserves, we’ve drunk far more than I expected at this stage, not helped by the loss the day before.
In the depressions of the razor back there are small stands of alpine brush and occasionally a snow gum, I take a small branch secure it in a plastic bag, an old scout trick to coax water out of the leaves by sweating them.
We walk on with still half the distance to go. I refrain from eating the juicy tomatoes in my pack which are for dinner, but eat some of the avocado, any way to get some moisture.
The leaves in the bag aren’t yielding much and the taste is not what I remember from doing this in hotter, more humid climes. Time to pray the tank at the camp site is full or at least enough for us to fill our bottles.
Over the last hill and the camp ground is in sight, it’s a nice flattish saddle, grassed with a hut for emergency shelter, a water tank and a pretty spec’d out toilet block, much to Claire’s relief. There are a few others who have already made camp, but we find a nice spot reasonably private with some shelter from the wind that is now roaring out of the valley and over us.
We’re down to a litre of water for the remainder of the trip, it’s the moment of truth and I could have broken out into the Hallelujah course, there is water and heaps of it. We spend the next hour filling, treating and satisfying our thirst.
With that concern put away we take a relax before a late afternoon trip to the summit of Mt Feathertop.
The summit is only 2kms from the campground but feels much longer. The trail traverses another small saddle which offers an alternate adventure skirting along a goat track to the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club’s hut. Against all odds these guys built a polyhedral shaped geodesic dome, packing in the all the materials and erecting on site, an amazing feat.
From here it is all up, it’s windy and passing along the side of ravines with names like Avalanche and Hell Fire gullies doesn’t fill me with confidence. I already battle a sometimes paralysing fear of exposed heights, following some serious bikes accidents as a teenager.
The track narrows considerably at a point just before a false peak and is fully exposed to the valley below. Claire encourages me on and in a fashion I wouldn’t want anyone seeing I get low, almost on all fours to conquer the exposed area, arriving on a flattish peak, but it’s not the top. There’s another dip to cross and then finally we can claim we have climbed Mt Feathertop.
It’s cold up here, the wind is fierce and we find ourselves fully rugged up, jackets, pants, beany and gloves, a far cry from the beginning of the day sweating it out on the Bon Accord Spur.
The view is spectacular and we just stop and take it in. I love those moments of just being present in this most spectacular creation. A photo stop and then it’s back to camp for dinner.
At this altitude there is nothing to block the sunset, we sit perched in the low branches of a tree high on the ridge. Like eagles we have a commanding view. The roof of the hut popping out of the foliage below and the sun surrendering to the western ridges of the horizon, in a dazzling display of red’s and orange painted across the sky. The hills momentarily look like they have caught fire, before the night sky envelopes them and puts on a light show of its own, introducing us to star after star for the next few hours.
More than satisfied with the day’s achievements and well hydrated, I fall into an exhausted but comfortable sleep.
Hiked January 7, 2014
Distance from Melbourne – 350km or 4 hrs, closest town is Harrietville.
Park Type – National Park, fireplaces, pets and firearms are prohibited.
Camping – Dispersed bush camping is permitted in most of the Alpine National Park. The park is a fuel stove only area; therefore no solid fuel fires are permitted. Try and camp in already made sites to protect the fragile alpine environment from further damage. There are no facilities in the Mt Feathertop area other than at Federation Hut, which is available for emergency accommodation, pit toilets are also available at this location.
Water source – There is no potable water in the park. However water can be sourced at the crossing of the Ovens River East Branch on the Bon Accord Spur track, Federation Hut providing the water tank is not empty and from a spring near the old Bungalow Hut site on the Bungalo Spur track.. We did not find any water sources on the upper reaches of the Bon Accord Spur or the Razor Back. No water source is guaranteed year round. All of the above mentioned sources were available to us (January), recommend you bring enough water for your stay and if you do need to drink river or tank water boil it or in some other way treat it first.
Attractions – Landscape views, summits, exploring, peace and quiet
Reference – Parks Victoria – Alpine National Park