Day 3 – Mt Feathertop, it’s all just a dream

Day 1 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

Day 2 I covered walking across the razor back and climb to the summit of Mt Feathertop, you can read about it here Day 2 we’re on top of the world

The wind dies down overnight and fully hydrated I have a great sleep waking well ahead of the sunrise.

The stars are still bright but soon they will surrender to the first rays of the sun as it bathes the land once again in its warmth. I’m in the place of the choosing to stay cosy in the sleeping bag letting the sun warm me as it peaks over the horizon and into our little site or making the trek back to the summit for one of those rare moments of sitting on the ceiling of Australia.

With the weather calm and a fresh but chilly temperatures outside I decide I’m unlikely to be here again any time soon and I can sleep in any morning at home. Hiking is about drinking in every special, unique and unusual experience you can.

I make a start for the summit, Claire is still fast asleep and I’m left in my thoughts and the glorious surrounds that tease me with clues of a beautiful sunrise. Over the saddle and now making my way up the slope, it’s apparent I will be above the clouds, this is going to be an amazing morning.

The fierce anger of the mountain of yesterday that was warning me not come up is gone and in its place, a sleeping giant. It’s so quiet and still I feel I need to tip toe lest I wake it from its rest and stir it once more to anger!

The expanse of mountains reaches out before me and I stop to breath it in, a mix of chill and the aroma of fresh air scented by the snow gums below. The little goat trail at Hells Gap poses none of the problems of yesterday and I confidently walk to the top.

Surveying the horizon only the highest peak push their way through the cloud which descends deep into the valley’s on all sides. There are hints of the sun breaking through and soon the cloud morphs in colour. Burning and bleeding at the same time, like blood mixing with water and quickly turning the whole cup red.

The dimensions of the clouds become apparent in the infinite hues and one could just imagine an artist painting a sun rise, the horizon their canvas, as stroke after stroke liberally brushed across the sky. The sun rays devour the cloud, bringing life to the sleeping pillows of grey darkness, harkening them to awake to a new day.

I’m captivated by the light show playing out in the silence, my thoughts are loud, as I meditate on the greatness of the one who made it all, worshipping the creator and admiring the created.

The sun continues to rises with abandon confident in its superiority of its place in the universe. The clouds give way to blue sky, the second sunrise peels out before me. Its rays penetrate my cold body, bringing the warmth of life. Trees wearied by the cold of night unfurl their leaves to catch every drip, the sun engulfing the valleys as the ridges now fully bathed look like fire.

I find a place to sit, drinking in the vista, breathing in the atmosphere and meditating on how great is God, Jesus our saviour.

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Before the dawn

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Peeking over the horizon

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Valley’s bathed in fire

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Sunrise over the peaks

The mountain is warmed but not awoken, I hear the calling of the days plan wanting to draw me from my heaven back to earth. I steal a few more minutes of prayer, reverence and awe, before surrendering to the schedule, making my way back to camp.

I feel like Moses after his encounter with God on Mount Sinai. Was this real did it really happen, I feel like I’m glowing and warm. Back at camp Claire is still asleep and so are the other hikers, there is not a stir, I climb back into bed enjoying the sun as it warms the tent, it was as if though it were all a dream.

A dry cup of Nutri-grain for breakfast and the site packed up we’re ready to experience the last leg of this journey. The Bungalow spur track, a descending, winding, 9km of switch backs to the road below.

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Federation Hut and life saving water

The track starts out rocky and steep and it’s almost easier to jog it than walk, especially with the lighter pack. We’ve heard about a spring that breaks out of the rock and hope we can find it along with the ruins of the old hut. As we descend I feel the jolting in my knees and at about a third of the way down we find the ruins, this looks like a good place for a rest.

The Bungalow Spur track was first cut in 1906 and a ‘shelter shed’ built near the spring. In 1912 it was replaced by Feathertop Hut. The hut was mainly used as a base for summer excursions, climbing and snow walks. The hut survived the 1939 bushfires but by the 1960s was in poor condition. Federation Hut was built higher up the hill to replace it and Feathertop Hut collapsed in the late 1970s.

Another hiker approaches us coming up, it’s a bit early for this already but a quick conversation reveals they are from one of the universities mapping out the area and vegetation. We have a chat about the environment, the human influence on it along with the weather all topics that get me talking.

We part exchanging information and not long after a small sign appears out of the scrubby bush inviting us down a side path to the spring. The track doesn’t look well used and at first it doesn’t lool like it will lead anywhere. It’s only 200m so not much of a rabbit hole to go down if it amounts to nothing

Pushing our way through low scrub the hard ground gives way to a soft feel and as we descend further into the bush the vegetation changes to the shade and moisture loving ferns synonymous with Victoria’s temperate forests. A short distance and the ground has turned to mush and the faint sound of trickling fills our ears. Ferns guard the spring like sentinels at a gate, and when peeled back reveal a small but confident flow of water escaping its rocky cell. On further observation it’s amazing to believe this is here, pretty much water coming straight out of a rock, incredible how it finds its way through anything.

It’s an awkward position to get into, but the temptation to drink straight from the rock is overwhelming and the cold, fresh flowing water revives us after several days of heat, dust and sweat.

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Drinking from the spring

We reluctantly return to the spur track and continue to make our way down. I’m surprised at how warm the weather has been, at 1900m it was 27C during the day, a great environment to see snakes, but a lass like most of our trips we have seen very little wild life.

The weather warms as we descend and the sun is beating down. We are making good time with few rest breaks, I’m finding the more I stop the more my knee is starting to seize. Around another corner the dust pounding off our boots I see a stick to my left, a metre or so in front, it’s moving and has an interesting looking pattern, it’s a snake, my first in Victoria.

I’m so excited to be out in the wild, I stop and keeping a safe distance observe and photograph, what an awesome way to finish this epic hike. I have no idea what type of snake it is, but being brown I‘m thinking a Brown or a Tiger snake. Either way I was not going any closer to find out

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Our unidentified snake

At the bottom my knee is fully seized up and we still have several kilometres of road to walk to the trail head at Bon Accord Spur. We had struck a conversation with another walker we met at the half way point and seeing my pain offers to give us a ride. I’m not one to fail finishing what I started but on this occasion I swallow my pride and let common sense prevail, just as well the trail head was further away than I remembered.

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Beginning of the Bungalow Spur track, the end of the journey for us

Back at the car, we’re alongside the Ovens River East Branch and is my tradition to take a freezing dip in mountain streams, rivers and waterholes. I jump in, I can’t feel my legs, but the cold shock is great for my body. Well refreshed we start the journey home morphing ourselves from hikers to city people once again.

Hiked January 8, 2014

Park Information

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

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