We’d had a great walk into Macalister Springs and treated to a brilliant sunset over Mt Howwitt Day 1 Crosscut Saw, is that a toilet?. Our First full day walking took our breath away, such beauty in a remote and rugged land Day 2 Crosscut Saw, views beyond compare But this was all about to change.
The muffled sound of rain drops splatting the tent is incessant all night, thankfully it hasn’t been accompanied by high winds. I poke my head out and we’ve been sleeping in the cloud, wetter than all those fairy tale pictures of laying in white pillows of fluff radiant in the suns glow.
I can see the droplets saturated into the fly, one false move, even a thought of a brush with it, will open the floodgates for dousing. We’re dry in the tent just the dampness of our breath can be felt. With boots on I pull over a jacket and step outside to examine the damage, but I’m taken back by the situation that confronts me.
We are indeed in the cloud and it is moist and slightly windy, but it’s not raining. As I get my head around what happening I realise that some of the water droplets in the cloud are on a collision course with the trees we sort to seek refuge under and on colliding have formed droplets falling on our tent like rain. In fact out from under the soggy ground of the trees shadow there are parts of the peak that are dry !
The rest of the camp is stirring and Jess has not been so fortunate, overnight her tent filling like a bath tub soaking her feet. There’s no time wasted packing up and we all have a quick simple breakfast. With the beautiful clear views now hidden behind a fog of cloud we’ve lost the desire for an Easter Sunday breakfast and leisurely pack up. It’s all about getting out, given we don’t know whether the weather will get better or turn for the worse.
I’m figuring it will take me longer than the rest so get a head start on the party, being careful not slip on the muddy trail and wet smooth granite slabs. The cloud remains thick, everything is coated in the moisture and it’s not long before there isn’t any part of me that isn’t wet, thankfully my new foul weather gear is doing a great job of keeping my dry.
The vegetated area seems to last much longer than I expected, strange as the return is always perceived as quicker. The others catch me up as we make our way up to the exposed peaks. As expected Lachie and Claire leave us in their dust, or cloud. Jess is struggling after yesterday’s massive return effort to Mt Speculation and Jonathan and I just pace each other, nothing to prove here.
I’m dealing with the exposed peaks better than expected, it’s because the visibility is so low, I can’t the chasms of nothingness and I’m keeping my eyes intently focused on the track and each step that I take. I’m amazed again how much of this is psychological. We see and we form a perception that leads to a belief, resulting in a reaction.
As my minds wanders and my legs go into auto pilot, I recall an old song we sang in our little mission church that seems appropriate for the moment. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus look into his wonderful face and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. My walking had become an outplaying of this principle.
I am rocking the razor backs, the clouds giving them a whole different perspective. I’m secretly excited the weather came in, I had hoped to see the Saw in this environment, without it turning nasty and becoming life threatening. By now I am either really happy or very delirious but singing across the razor, Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth, an appropriate declaration for Easter Sunday and the environment we are in. I think this is the most fun I have had in a while
Claire and Lachie continue to push the boundaries, getting out on the precipices as much as possible, it makes for great photos and I give it a try of sorts. Claire lectures me that if your are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space. We’re over the top of the first of the high peaks and it’s a bit of scramble down the other side, onto a narrow rocky ledge that delivers us to the next saddle. Claire stops and asks me if I need her help, no go on I say, she looks at me puzzled and continues. All on the saddle I share how much I am enjoying this, making note I have one more narrow rock face to negotiate and the rest will be a breeze. The party look at me strangely and carry on , I don’t read anything into.
For all the weather we are making good time but there is still some way to go. We pass another group that has camped where they landed overnight, a sheltered little spot, if you can call it that in the lee of a saddle. Before I know it the party is high fiving each other on a job well done and I become incredibly disorientated, arguing that this cannot be the end. I have not negotiated the narrow rock face. Claire tell’s me I did, it was when I came back to you and you didn’t need me, she recounts. Still not convinced I make my case until Jess shows me the video evidence, I can’t argue with that!
We continue over the Howitt plain, but I’m still not convinced and remain really disorientated, until I see the bike helmet in the tree, that’s irrefutable. On our first day returning from Mt Howitt Lachie discovered a bike helmet as the trail dipped into the saddle. Strange and confounding to all of us, he placed it in a tree, clearly visible to whoever was looking for it. Who knew it would serve as a landmark.
Back at Macalister Springs we have lunch and the clouds so thick earlier burn off, the Crosscut Saw clearly visible once again. It makes me looks silly dressed head to toe in foul weather gear, like I had imagined that the weather had come in and I was the only living in this alternate reality.
Suitably buggered we push each other the final 5 ks across the plains and back to the car park. Elated to see the finish line it has been an outstanding hike with great people, spectacular views and interesting weather.
This part of the alpine region isn’t done with me yet, there is still a deep simmering desire to make it to Mt Speculation on a future trip and who knows maybe even visit the viking…