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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Western Arthurs Hike - Day 1 - Up Alpha Moraine

After packing everything for the hike, we drove down to the start of the track, only a few hundred metres from the campsite. We took a couple of group photos, signed the walkers register, then started the walk.
We were planning to hike as far into the Western Arthurs as we could and to make it a loop if possible.

For the first hour, the track was good, going first through forest, then out onto button grass plains. We saw a wallaby very close to the start. After this good section, came two hours of slogging through thick mud which sometimes came above my knees.
I didn't bother trying to go around it, I just waded through, as it doesn’t damage the vegetation, and is faster anyway. It is quite slippery however, meaning that practically every step results in nearly falling in some sections.


After the 2 hours, we came to Junction creek where walkers are required to scrub their boots to prevent spreading Phytophthora (A root rot disease). This seemed pretty pointless, since the mud started again straight away.
After another hour and a half, with great views of the mountains, we came to the base of Alpha Moraine, having traversed much more mud and button grass. (Alpha Moraine, also known as Moraine A is just a spur coming off the end of the Western Arthurs mountain range)
We thought the mud would end as we ascended the moraine –

It didn’t.

Somehow the water stayed on the steep side of the mountain, and turned the track to mud. It was extremely slippery, and we were continually having our feet slip down and out from under us.
I was about three quarters of the way up, and feeling pretty tired due to lack of fitness when both my feet slipped out from under me on a slippery muddy rock, and I came crashing down onto my hands, however as I came down, my left eye caught a bush. I immediately thought I'd lose sight in my eye, as it was very painful, but on opening it, I could still see properly, and found that much of the pain was from several cuts around my eye, but also from a stinging of the eye itself.
After a few minutes, I felt I could go on, or at least made myself go on, as we were running out of daylight, and needed to find the campsite.

At the top of the climb, the weather closed in, with a freezing wind and enveloping cloud. I was extremely tired, and having trouble making my legs work properly. Walking along the alpine ridge, Jennifer was getting ahead a bit, we stopped and discussed finding a camp before Lake Cygnus, where we intended to go. Jennifer wanted to go on, as did I, but the light was fading fast. Sook after, Jennifer got out of sight in front of Gaye and myself, and we stopped, and decided we really had to make camp as we couldn’t see the path properly, and were liable to get lost. We yelled to Jennifer, but to no avail.

We made camp on some rocky ground in an exposed saddle, hoping Jennifer was OK, but at the same time cursing that she had gone ahead and split us up.
There was no water on the saddle, so I gave Gaye the little I had, and cooked my ready to eat soup, which required no water.
Even on the alpine tops of the mountains, the mud continued unabated, only the plants in it changed.

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