Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Twins to Mt Hotham, AAWT, Alpine National Park - November 2017

This was probably as good as the AAWT got today.
Well it was another wet and wild night last night on the AAWT, my camp up at The Twins being characterised by rain and a bit of wind. The inclement conditions didn’t really worry me that much though because I knew that today I’d be shuffling into Mt Hotham and all it’s earthly delights…like a shower, a washing machine, beer, steak….hang on, what’s that orchestra music I can hear in the background…oh yeah, I suppose I am getting ahead of myself a bit here aren’t I.
Hmmm, things were still looking bit grim this morning.
Peering out of the tent first thing this morning I was greeted by a bleak scene, the mist and rain that I’d pitched the tent in last night was still hanging around. Being pretty keen to get to Mt Hotham and jump into a warm shower my standard tactics when waking up to rain of going back to sleep wasn’t really an option this morning. So instead of going back to sleep I decided on breakfast in bed instead, figuring that while I was enjoying my freeze dried feast the weather might just clear. Now cooking and eating in a bushwalking tent isn’t the easiest thing when you are six foot three and weigh around 125 kilograms like your Feral correspondent, but it was still better than cooking and eating in the rain I reckon. After moderately successfully eating breakfast without getting a crooked neck in the tent (hey, Sam was meeting me in Hotham so maybe I could get a neck rub to iron out the creaks.....ah yeah, maybe?) it was time get back into yesterday’s wet gear and climb out to greet the new day.
Breakfast in bed was the go this morning.
It's not easy eating in a small bushwalking tent when your 6'3" though.
I suppose the good news this morning was that with almost all my food gone and all my wet weather gear being worn there wasn’t a lot of finesse needed to shoe horn everything into my pack, it was just a matter of stuffing everything in and I’d sort it out later up at Mt Hotham. So after a fairly quickly breaking camp I was once again shuffling my way east along Twins Track, sadly wandering along here in the rain was probably the best walking for the day. Leaving camp Twins Track climbed over a little knoll before sidling the southern slopes of Mt St Bernard, passing underneath an old ski tow, the Great Alpine Road appeared for the first time through the cloud just below me, snaking up towards the cloud covered mountain.
My long journey along Twins Track continued for another couple of kilometres this morning.
I'm still looking pretty happy with life.
That's the Great Alpine Road snaking it's way up the mountain.
The Great Alpine Road was the first sealed road that I’d met since crossing Thomson Valley Road 16 days ago, and for the rest of my stroll today it would be my walking route. Thankfully the road wasn’t that busy today, walking up here on a hot day in lots of traffic would be a real pain in the arse I think. I didn’t have to worry about heat today though, hypothermia was more of a danger actually. With the Great Alpine Road more or less keeping to the crest of The Great Dividing Range it was a pretty exposed walk this morning, initially through rain but higher up I started to get some sleet coming in side ways. I must of looked pretty miserable trudging up here wrapped up so that the only skin visible was my mouth, nose and eyes, I’m thinking that because I had a couple of cars stop to see if they could give me a ride, nice gestures that it took all my will power to decline.

There are some nice views off this road normally, although the cloud limited them a bit this morning.
It's probably no surprise but as I gained height the weather got shittier.
Climbing higher I started to walk past some large drifts of snow left over from winter, which added a bit of interest to what was your classic road bash. After passing Blowhard Hut I continued shuffling my way up towards Mt Hotham, arriving at Diamantina Hut I was faced with a choice. The AAWT heads up the open grassy slopes to the summit of Mt Hotham, with Mt Hotham being the highest mountain that the AAWT had crossed on my journey north so far I was pretty keen to go up, but looking at the shitty weather I really couldn’t see the point. So, as you’ve probably guessed I squibbed it, reasoning that as I had a few days rest and recreation planned up here that I’d have plenty of time to check out the summit in hopefully more favourable conditions, and so it was.
Blowhard Hut is just off the Great Alpine Road and can provide a bit of shelter in conditions like this.
Still I trudged upwards......
There was the occasional descent just to annoy me a bit as well.
This is the start of the Razorback Track over to Mt Feathertop.

The good news was that the climb was almost over now, reaching the high point near the Mt Loch car park and beach (err, that maybe another Feral Fact?), the Great Alpine Road started to drop down to Hotham Heights. Somewhat ironically as I passed through the ski tunnel and entered town the sun came out and the cloud lifted, maybe I should of headed to the summit after all, bugger. The alpine village of Mt Hotham is actually spread out along the ridge line for a few kilometres and of course my accommodation at ‘The General’ was about two and a half kilometres along the ridge in Davenport Village. Trudging on, sunburn was now a real possibility, ah yes you’ve gotta love the weather in the High Country. Passing over our Pygmy Possum’s Tunnel of Love I arrived outside ‘The General’ just before I reached melt down temperature in all my wet weather gear. The rest of my afternoon was spent successfully becoming reacquainted with electricity, real food, and hot water, life was indeed pretty sweet!
Almost at the top now...

The Dirt.
I walked 13 kilometres today and climbed 700 metres on what was still a hard day. My stats after 16 days on the AAWT so far are 255 kilometres along with 13,695 metres of climbing, yeah you reckon I wasn’t looking forward to a couple of days off in Mt Hotham! To be honest I didn’t look for water today, probably the most likely spot is in the head waters of the Diamantina River off the side of The Razorback Track near Diamantina Hut I’m thinking. There are no real camping options on this section of the AAWT either as the AAWT is within the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort boundary after hitting The Great Alpine Road, if you aren’t staying at Hotham the next spot to camp is at Derrick Hut, 4 kilometres down the AAWT from the Mt Loch car park. Navigation wise everything is straight forward today, if I got lost on the Great Alpine Road I think it would be time to hang up my boots. The phone would of worked for most of the day I’m thinking but I didn’t turn it on until I checked into my room. Speaking of my room I stayed at The Genaral, this place is a pub, cafe, and general store rolled into one. The General isn’t a cheap option but we (Sam came up the next day) found it a very nice spot to chill out for awhile, the views from our room and the cafe/pub are quite spectacular. I used Mr Chapman’s notes and maps again as well as carrying Rooftop’s Jamieson - Licola Adventure Map for an overview.

Relevant Posts.
AAWT, First day, October 2017.
AAWT, Previous day, November 2017.
Mount Hotham, November 2017.

Passing Mt Loch car park and beach I dropped out of the cloud for the first time today.
And by the time I passed under the ski tunnel the sun was out!
This tunnel was constructed under the Great Alpine Road to allow the endangered Pygmy Possums to cross safely.
The day ended a little more comfortably than it began!

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