It seems surreal writing this from the comfort of a hotel bed when this has been one of the most extreme bushwalking days of my life! We woke up to no rain but howling winds and clouds moving so quickly through the pass I could never keep up with them. The never ending cloud bubble hugging the Main Range is what we walked through today, where do they keep coming from!?
We all had cabin fever after spending 14 hours in the tent and so we decided to walk over the top of the Main Range even though the Bible warned us not to. Our plan was to follow the faint pad/cairns we had followed the day before, if we lost the track we would pitch the tent and wait out the weather or retrace our steps. Dressed in most of our clothes we did a speedy pack-up and set out in a tight group to face the Main Range in appalling conditions.
It was so cold my legs felt weak and we had to climb 500m in elevation over 4 mountains before he hit our first landmark, a lake materialised out of the cloud. Until this lake we had walked over 7km in winds that were knocking us over, over some of Australia’s highest peaks, but we could have been in Antarctica or on Neptune, we wouldn’t have known the cloud was so thick. When we crossed snow fields we would have to walk along the end of them till we found our track if we couldn’t easily find it on the other side. The path above the lake (our first proper track in 7km) clung to steep cliffs, and when the clouds cleared revealed vertical snow clad glacial slopes. It was amazing, but I also realised what perilous terrain we had been crossing disguised in fog.
At the Muellers Saddle, after Albina Lake, we ran into another group of crazy hikers, our first that day. They gave us tips for the steep snow field crossings we had yet to pass. The public toilets just below Mt Kosciuszko summit, our decided lunch place out of the weather, was just in sight half hidden on the horizon. Between us and lunch were 3 large precarious snow fields. The first was simple enough to cross, Meg gave Harry and I a quick lesson about walking in snow and the correct way to position your feet for traction. This lesson was sufficient till I flipped out at the start of the second very steep snow crossing. Not feeling confident I decided to take the long detour under and around the drift, but while descending the steep wet slope running with snow melt I promptly fell over, hurting my knee and cutting up my elbow and lip. Meg came to my rescue yet again and chose an easier path for us up the snow and gently talked me through it. After yet another snow field route finding obstacle course we finally made it to solid ground/track and the public toilets!
We were so cold and tired after 12 tiring kms and 7hrs of solid walking, and the public toilets so stinky that we pushed on for the comforts of Thredbo Village (hotel/shower/warm bed). This propelled us the the last 6kms along easy track to the chairlift. There were quite a few day hikers out for this last section and we felt they really didn’t understand the trials we had just been through. We could smell them too, so clean and fragrant (I’m sure they could smell our unique 10 day dirty perfume too). Harry and I screamed for the first minute of the chairlift ride as we were travelling so quickly compared to the last 10 days.
In town we went to the supermarket and brought a huge feast which we consumed so quickly on the lawns under the curious eyes of all the mountain bikers in town. We were in another world this morning and now I’m deciding which beer I want to drink at the pub.