Sunday, March 20, 2011

Great major mitchell plateau hike 2010.07.08-11

Woke up to a refreshing morning at Borough’s campsite in the Grampians after a long night of driving (reached at ~1-2am)!!! Had breakfast and enjoyed the surroundings, we had a bit of a hard time deciding the route we wanted to use – clockwise or anti-clockwise because of the weather. Luckily in the end we agreed on doing it clockwise which is what i pretty much wanted, haha because that way we get to be on the Mt.William summit (the highest in the Grampians) in a good weather, where as the followings days were predicted to be raining!!!!

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Some of old remaining (pic on right).

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The stream that ran behind the campsite which is good for refilling water (left pic).

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We had to head down to Horsham because some people need to buy rain jacket and some food. Couldn’t do the trip without the proper gears because the weather on top of the plateau is very unpredictable and wind can be so strong that it can pose risk to anyone.

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Finally we started off our ascent through this little path up to the Mt.Williams car park. So the plan was to do a grand loop trail which roughly involved 3 days of hike, up to Mt.Williams, than to the Major Mitchell Plateau, camp then continue hike down, camp , and then another hike  which is more or less flatter.

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Our first stop…..saw this beautiful flowers??? covered with morning dews!!!!

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The hike along the way was pretty because we followed the side of the hill so we have pretty much a clear view on our right hand side to the mountain ranges!!!

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Our 2nd stop…

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From the path we ended up on this Mt.William road, haha, which most people drive up here to the Mt. William carpark before ascending the last part :)

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The view… you can tell how good it is by this picture of the 2 overlooking the Grampians!!!

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That plateau is where we are heading towards to, looks fine i think on a fine weather, haha.

Me, me , me…..couldn’t resist the superb view!!!! And the views just get better and better as we got higher and higher!!!!

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The final ascent to the peak, Alex like the peak but hate the man-made stuff on top, haha. Well, it’s a good spot for communication stuff because of its height :)

Jono, me, Tim, and Brad YEAAH!!!!! Not too very hard, haha.

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The view on the other side which is flat overlooking some plains :)

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Had lunch and the weather was looking not too good anymore, we quickly began our next leg to the plateau!!!!

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Can you spot any humans in the photos above among the dense stunted eucalyptus??? haha

Love this photo!!! but it also showed the sun was kidnapped by heavy clouds!!!!

A long way to go!!!! WE have to hike down and then up to the our camp site for the night!!!!!!

The weather is coming!!!! NOT GOOD!!!!

In the end, due to the different capability of the hikers, we couldn’t make it very far, so we only managed to get to the bottom of the plateau and it was getting dark because the sun being kidnapped, and so we decided to camp below the plateau. The place seems like a temporary campsite and it’s slightly shelter from the weather at least SEEMS like, haha. Luckily we still managed to setup the tents and a fire going on (thanks to Jono for building the fire in a wet condition!!!!).  But the weather didn’t turn good but worsen, it rained quite heavily and the worst thing of all was the gust wind!!!! The whole night the wind remained strong occasionally slowed down. The sound of the wind howling in the middle of the night when everyone go to bed was pretty SCARY!!!!

The rain was not totally gone by morning the following day, but the wind god have more mercy!!! SO we decided that we move on via the plateau because we all didn’t really wanted to go back to Mt. Williams but it was a tough decision thinking what might lied ahead. So we climbed up to the plateau.

The weather at first seems not too bad, the visibility was alright, the wind was not too strong, but somehow, the rain and wind god suddenly threw their tantrum on us as we got into higher elevation!!! All i can said was it’s real bad, the conditions were really hazardous if without experience.

WET, WINDY and FOGGY!!!! At one point we were pretty much walking on the plateau enduring the wind and rain hitting on us STRAIGHT on!!!! Visibility was bad, and at one point we were separated, because some just continued walking and walking ahead (kinda understandable, because some have minimum gear for this kinda of SHIT weather and it’s really COLD!!!)  but it wasn’t a good sign. And you basically can’t see, can’t hear, nobody can hear you even if you shout at your lungs!!!!!

Luckily the separated team turned back because they could not find the path to continue, and we were all tired, and we knew that we were LOST in the WORST weather!!!! The map was wet too somehow when we tried to take it out from the map bag??? haha, because it wasn’t the waterproof type!!!! And then we were all trying to look around, but then there’s no sign of any route.

We decided to backtrack to where we thought we were all following a trail, and then suddenly i saw some piles of rocks and thought of cairns!!! And i told them about the possibility of using cairns up here.  Though the first one i spotted were not the right cairns (no idea how they look like one), we all started looking for cairns!!!! And while back trekking, luckily the good eye sight of Cam saw the correct pile of cairns!!!!! And it seems to be a decent path, THANK GOD, otherwise we would really have to back track all the way back!!!!

And from then onwards, every cairns we saw we practically very happy because we knew we were on the right path!!!!

The pictures below were taken during the beginning of the plateau hike in a milder weather condition, and NO PICTURE after that, as the weather doesn’t allow at all, and no time for shooting too!!!!!

We did have a bit of argument along the way down because i really wanted to have a rest stop and gain some energy and water back when i saw some shelter!!! But one doesn’t buy that idea as the person doesn’t want to stop with the person’s very minimum gear (understandably the person was freezing and numb at feet and hand), luckily in the end the group leader wanted to stop too, and everyone got to stop a bit for food and drink :)

The whole plateau hike became like a survival hike, the survival instinct kinda took over, the energy came from the mind and determination, haha. Walking non-stop to get away from the weather, which in deed as we descend more and more, the rain and wind was behind us instead of the opposite back then!!!!

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We made it ALIVE safe and sound!!!!!Unbelievable!!!! LOL

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Even while descending, it was getting dark again……

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We got the jimmy’s creek campground evening time, everywhere were wet or muddy or flooded, haha. SO we had to take shelter and cook in front of the toilets, haha. Luckily there’s weren’t many other people camping there the same night, we saw one setup his tent and then departed when the rain set in again, haha.
Basically we were all relieved but tired and super wet!!!!! LOL, WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!!

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The calm morning, LOL!!!!!

Last but not least we had to thank Cam and Jono who still have the energy to walk to the car (a fair distance on the Mt.William road) and drive them back here to pick us up the night before, otherwise we had to walk to the car that morning which was supposed to be our final leg, haha.

The bail out for the final leg was replaced by a visit to Mckanzie falls, YEAH!!!
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All in all, we had pleasant drive back, nice dinner, nice ice-creams!!!! What a perilous hike, LOL!!!!! Never underestimate the weather on the mountains!!!!!