It was the final day of our three day trip and hopefully it’d just be a stroll from Seaman’s Hut to Dead Horse Gap, Snowy Mountains to finish. Following the previous days shenanigans though, I was not exactly jumping out of my sleeping bag. First of all, it’s difficult getting a good nights sleep when one’s lying on a dirigible.
I woke up in the middle of the night at some weird angle due to the possessed sleeping mat. Whilst lying there coming to grips with the universe, I became aware of some weird noises. I could have got up to investigate, but I was too stuffed, so I just let my mind run rampant with scenarios.
I concluded it was one of three things. The first being the Yowie from the previous evening was on the roof trying to get to get to my hoard of Dilmah. Secondly, it was the Mary Celeste being towed past the hut on the back of a truck or thirdly, it was windy and raining.
I managed to conclude it was the last, even though the first two would have been way more interesting. Seamans Hut makes some weird noises in the night, which I assume is something to do with the metal roof. The walls are so thick though, I didn’t hear the rain until I looked out the window in the daylight and saw it was pouring down.
It was wet for the last day with the wind blowing in cloud all around us. It couldn’t have been more bleak, but at least it shouldn’t be too much of a problem getting wet, when we were only heading back to the car. It would have been different if this was the first day of walking.
When we set out a few days earlier, I knew the weather forecast was not going to be too bad. So, to dump weight I elected to leave my heavy duty raincoat in the car. I was initially going to bring some overpants, as they also act as a good pair of wind-breakers
The trouble is, when I told MK as we were getting our packs ready she replied, “You have to be joking.” Well, no I wasn’t. I thought it was a great idea, but she intimidated me so much I said, “Yeah, what sort of man carries overpants around?!” The result is I had no overpants and no raincoat. It’s not a total tragedy though, as I did have my trusty North Face jacket as I’ve reviewed before. In fact it’s my only review, which reminds me I must pull my finger out and do some more.
As soon as I slipped the jacket on, immediately I felt stronger and as mean as a croissant made without butter. I began to swear for no apparent reason and I felt compelled to slip into a lat-flare pose down, which was difficult in the confined space of the hut.
With the rain still pelting down we were pretty slow getting ready. MK spotted of all things a white four wheel drive on the track heading our way. Was it the rogue car from the previous night? I have no idea what had happened the mystery car, as there’s no exit in the direction we saw it headed.
In the gloom, I watched it slowly drive towards us before stopping right outside the door. It was a Parks vehicle with three people in it and as I looked out the window I could see the driver looking back at me.
Although I was a little fearful of an intensely powerful, big and beefy moustache the bloke was packing, I did have the jacket on, which gave me the upper hand. I stared at him and he stared at me until it became a stand off. It looked like he wanted to have a chat, but as he was wearing a short sleeve shirt I felt he wasn’t going to get out in the rain. It also must have been daunting for him seeing the blazing red ‘Summit Series’ logo on a large man with his lats flared. The result? There wasn’t much the moustache could do other than turn the car around and drive back in the direction he came. It’s a physical world this hiking business.
After all of this manly business it was time to head off. We again had to climb for a couple of kilometres back to Rawsons Pass, which was the third time we’d walked this stretch of road. It was made even more enjoyable by a headwind that drove rain into our faces. I got wet pretty quickly, but didn’t feel cold due to the exertion of the constant hill climb.
After the traditional pit stop at Australia’s highest comfort station it was back to our favourite part. The steel boardwalk that leads all the way back to the chairlifts from Thredbo. The terrain was quite easy walking, but again the steel under foot was causing a fair amount of aching to my feet.
Although the weather was still pretty grim, the rain did ease up, which revealed day walkers appearing out of the gloom, heading to Mt Kosciuszko. I didn’t think I would see many people on such a dodgy day, but maybe there was a favourable weather forecast as the light was getting brighter.
I turned on my ‘G’day’ social convention overload as we passed a few people and I was impressed by some of the hardcore gear they had on. Heavy duty raincoats and overpants as if they were headed to Antarctica. I was feeling a little under-dressed. It was balanced out though by a bloke with an umbrella and a handy-cam glued to his eyeball. Nothing like an umbrella to combat those alpine winds.
There wasn’t a great deal to look at as we covered the ground we walked a couple of days earlier. I did spot something at the side of the track, which I thought was a barbecue. I mean, why can’t we have Australia’s highest barbecue up in the Snowy Mountains? If 100,000 people per year come up to the summit, imagine how much NSW Parks would make if they had a sausage sizzle going? One dollar for a sausage with sauce and bread and two dollars for a sausage in a roll with sauce and onion. Hang on. This may work. I crunched out all the numbers including overheads, until I got a little closer and deduced it probably wasn’t a barbecue at all under the cover.
As we clanked away on the steel grating I did find a Nikon lens cap on the ground. Considering all the Canon ones I’ve lost over the years, I thought it was time I found something for my camera. It was 67mm as well, so it’ll come in handy.
I’m probably committing some sort of crime amongst Canon/Nikon fanboys by putting a Nikon lens cap on a Canon lens? Oh well, that’s the way it goes when you live your life as a wild-man. Always pushing the envelope. That was about it for entertainment, until we reached a number of rocks where again currawongs sat in the gloom.
There was a nice view of the origins of the Snowy River. It’s hard to imagine such small streams end up as a whopper sized river. Well, big for Australian standards anyway as it’s not exactly the Amazon.
Soon we reached the chairlift that leads back to Thredbo. Now MK has my ailment regarding walking over ground previously covered. We both hate it! I much prefer a circuit walk any day, than a straight out and back number. The car was parked at the end of the Dead Horse Gap Track and it would have been easiest to head straight down there. The trouble is we had come up there on the first day and to do it again would be a little too ‘easy’ I think.
So, it was decided we should go down to Thredbo via an alternative path. Upon reaching the bottom of the mountain we could then walk another four or so kilometres on flat ground next to the Snowy River back to the car. Actually, the easiest thing of all would be to hop on the chairlift for a five minute trip to the bottom. The trouble is it costs $23 one way, not to mention the likely destruction of my hiking credibility.
Merritts Nature Track starts next to the chairlift and whilst standing there for a moment we were approached by a very large man (VLM). He had an offer. “I can send your packs down on the chairlift for free if you want, and then you can pick them up from the operator at the bottom.” It did have potential until he said, “If you’re going down Merritts you won’t have much fun with a pack on.” Hang on. Now I am going with my pack on. Is this a challenge?!
So, down we went with packs on. It was definitely steeper than the the Dead Horse Gap Track. I’m glad we hadn’t used Merritts on the first day, as I was feeling stuffed enough as it was. MK and I also decided that we wouldn’t see anyone for the day climbing this track. We had a suspicion it was way too steep for the chairlift crowd. In fact it was way too steep for me!
It’s also called a ‘nature’ walk, which means it’s not urban I guess. It wasn’t so bad, but it did give my knees a bit of a workout going down some mighty steps with a monstrous height difference between each one. There were the odd spots with a nice view, which luckily were facing in an opposite direction to the chairlifts that go down the mountain.
There was a nice waterfall on the way down, which would be pretty impressive in spring with the snow melt running off. It’s a pity it didn’t have a lot of water in it to practice my ‘milky water’ photo method. I had plenty of time to do this though, as MK disappeared again to clamber over rocks whilst I lay back with the tripod. After a solid stop it was downhill again. The weather was the complete opposite of the start of the day. The sun was now out and being lower amongst the trees it was quite humid. It had gone from chilly to meltdown in only a few hours. I did enjoy the nature the ‘nature walk’ was giving me though.
After following the track which zigzags down the mountain we came to a nice little table which would have been a perfect spot for a snack. The trouble is we were over the walk a little and just wanted to get it over with now. It was a handy spot though to drop the backpack for five minutes and lie back and take in the view. Lucky a chain had been especially installed for my feet to rest on.
Once going again we reached the bottom of the mountain and now found the path which runs parallel with the road, which our car was parked on and the Snowy River. In theory it should now be plain sailing. If only it was that simple, as this hike had dished up plenty of adventures and even near the end kept on delivering.
We came across a nice waterfall hidden amongst the trees and ferns complete with a seat that would be nice to sit on in the shade. I was going to take some long shutter photos of the water, but I was startled to see a man, standing silently about 20 metres away. What’s interesting was he was actually standing in the stream. I looked at his face and my quick analysis was he was quite clearly insane and was about to expose himself. Really? Well, he was the first person we had seen for quite some time and what else would he be doing silently camouflaging himself in the bushes, unless he was going to produce his wanger and yell out “Surprise!”?
In the end, all he was doing was taking photos of the waterfall from a distance and he appeared to be a little traumatized we were in the way of what was going to be a ‘magic shot’. Didn’t he realise that if he took a photo of me it would be a ‘magic shot’, as none actually exist? I mean, have you seen any photos of my face in this blog? No? I didn’t think so, as around the clock I actually wear a welding helmet. It’s not the most romantic item in bed, but with some imagination it can work.
In the end, we couldn’t block his shot forever, so we moved on and I was cursing I didn’t get to take a million photos of the waterfall, which is my usual technique. We passed ‘stream-boy’ and I noted he did have pants on, so my initial analysis that he may be giving us an eyeful of his tallywacker could be wrong. The judgement may not have been totally incorrect though because I noted he did have a Nikon camera judging by the massive ‘NIKON’ written on the strap, so the insane part of the analysis still may have been correct.
A short distance further on there was more action as we saw writing on the slats of the boardwalk. I thought it was a cryptic message and at first I was a little annoyed I’d forgotten my titanium Rosetta Stone. In the end it wasn’t a message from the past, but just old sign posts that had been turned into boardwalk.
I was feeling slightly shell-shocked from the constant action, when all I wanted to see was the car. We still had a few kilometres to go and I wasn’t sure if I could take it when the tension went up another notch. We walked out of some trees and I spotted a flying saucer that had landed. It was a pretty cool looking UFO as it came complete with a television antenna. These aliens knew how to relax. Remember, there’s one thing I was taught when around aliens and that’s, ‘It’s a cookbook!’
We avoided abduction for the day and then came across something I again didn’t expect. Do you find on hikes that at some point you realise it’s all over? You’ve returned to the ‘world’? Well, I found that moment when I stumbled upon the sixth hole of a golf course. The hole actually had a name called ‘the wedge’ and it’s a par 3 if you’re wondering. The green also looked in pretty good shape.
This hike had reached comedy status now, as we left the golf course behind. There were a couple more spots to look at the river though. There was one impressive waterfall, which I contemplated getting my tripod out for. Living on the edge though, I thought I’d go for a long hand held shot. My hands were jumping around as if I was dying for a scotch and coke, but I thought I could pull it off. It was close, but the blur got me in the end. The lesson? I’m not a tripod.
Finally, can this walk ever end? It seemed as if we were on the eternal river walk. It was quite undulating as well which affected me mentall,y as I expected ‘flat’. More views of the river? Well, why not.
Suddenly, it was all over. I spotted the car and managed to stumble across the road without getting flattened and finally dump the backpack for good. We hadn’t really eaten, so we both flaked out near the vehicle, stuffing our gobs with food.
I looked at the GPS and it had some pretty good numbers for a hike that was only two and a half days long. The distance walked was 53.66 kilometres and total elevation climbed being 2059 metres. On this day a distance of 14.09 km and the laziest elevation gain for the trip being 278 metres. I was feeling absolutely wrecked and aware that my entire body was sticky with stale sweat. Pretty erotic huh?
The river was a short distance away, so I made my way there and in a bit of tree cover from the road jumped in. Oh yeah, I took my clothes off as well. ‘Stream-boy’ had given me some good ideas, so it was my turn to cool off in the water keeping rampant schlong exposure to a minimum. The most refreshing feeling of all was for my aching feet to be in cold water. Magnificent!
Well, that’s an interesting hike finished. It was a lot harder than I imagined, which seems to be a common theme. It would be a nice spot to return in spring when there’s still some snow around. Well, maybe later in the year, although there’s millions of other hikes to do as well before then. Until next time…