In the spirit of my “Year of Adventure”, yesterday Matt, Alysia, Terri, Katharine, Sam and I hiked to the top of the tallest mountain in Victoria – Mount Bogong.
I grew up in a little town called Mt Beauty, at the end of the Kiewa Valley in North East Victoria. As the name suggests, it’s an incredibly beautiful place to grow up, surrounded by a gorgeous landscape of mountains, including Mount Bogong. A lot of people who I grew up with have already completed the climb, some of them (I AM NOT KIDDING) RUN all the way up and down the incredibly steep trail called the Staircase Spur. It takes these crazy people 3 hours up and back. So I personally felt that completing the climb was something that, as a local, I had to do, because for me, Mount Bogong was something I always looked forward to seeing, and how I knew I was nearly home.
Mount Bogong is 1986m tall, and from Tawonga, this is what it looks like:
Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting into when I said I would do this climb – it was incredibly difficult!
We decided to take the Staircase Spur, the shortest and hardest route to get to the top, but the one that most people that I know, take. We left Mountain Creek at 7.30am towards the Staircase and hiked as best we could to make it to the halfway point, the Bivouac Hut by around 10/10.30am. Alysia, Kath and Sam trailed behind Matt, Terri and I, but eventually Matt went ahead and Terri dropped behind me, so I was hiking for at least 1 1/2 hours alone. In the bush. With no sign of how much further I had to climb. Every corner I turned I was hoping would have a clearing on the other side that would have the hut, to no avail, but eventually I got there.
The strangest part of this climb was trying to figure out if I was hot, or cold. I’d just climbed at least 3km, so my heart was pumping and I was really sweating, but my skin felt cold as ice and I had goosebumps. But after a nice big rest, a feed, a stretch and wait for everyone else to catch up, we set off for the summit.
This part of the Staircase is exactly that – a freaking rock staircase! And boy, is it steep! This time, Terri, Matt and I stayed together for the most part and had a quick break at the clearing before the steepest part of the climb, and bumped into my mate Wilfred and his friend Luke who we completed the climb with. At this point, you can actually see the final destination, so even though it is even steeper, you know you are NEARLY THERE!!
We made it to the summit at 12.30ish and had a good hour long break eating tuna on crackers for lunch, waiting for the girls to catch up and taking some photos for bragging rights. It was absolutely amazing up there. We could see the Kiewa Valley, the Mitta Valley, Mount Buller and the Kosciusko Ranges to name a few. And the mountains spread as far as the eye could see in every direction. It was so beautiful, and we were lucky enough to have clear skies and minimal smoke from the burning off that always occurs around Easter.
I’m not sure if I have ever been so proud of myself as I was on the top of that mountain. I even struck a few yoga poses just so I can say that I did. But I couldn’t help but remind myself that although I was doing this to challenge myself, I did it in tribute of my Aunty Mae Mae, who took my sister and I on so many hikes with her family when we were kids.
When we left, we considered taking the Eskdale Spur home, because although longer, it was flatter. But with a strangers advice that we would likely get lost, we decided to go back down the Staircase and did so with our weak and wobbly legs the whole way down. For me, this part was the hardest. Tired and weak from the morning’s climb, I somehow found the energy to use an entirely new group of muscles, and in agony with shaking legs, made my way down with Terri and Matt. I couldn’t help but think of the line from the nursery rhyme, The Grand Old Duke of York, “when they were only halfway up, they were neither up nor down”, because we kept thinking that we were nearly home, but we weren’t. Eventually, we got back to the car at 5pm, and the three girls 30 mins later.
It was an incredibly big and unforgettable day, and even though I am very sore and a little bit sunburnt today, I am so happy that I managed to complete the climb. Despite doubting myself at moments, with the help of some incredible friends and family, we all managed to push through the pain and complete something that not everyone can say that they have done.
So, thanks to: Terri, who asked us to come along; Matt, who drove me home after the walk so that I could have a bath, then drove back to the track to wait for the girls; Ally, who gathered the troops and made our group a little bigger; Kath, who was our constant entertainment; and Sam, who kept a positive mind stayed with Ally and Kath when they were hating life climbing the freaking mountain.
All up, we hiked 16km UP A FREAKING MOUNTAIN! So I’m proud of us! To quote Sam, we are “winning at life”!
The girls are keen – this is the start of the hike
Making sure we don’t leave Terri behind
Matt and I stopping for a cuddle on the way up from the hut
The view of the Kiewa Valley from above – Hi Mum!
I know we’re close!
A cliff face before the summit
Matt getting close to the edge
We made it! The highest point in Victoria!!!
I’m a mountain climbing YOGA-MEISTER!