Monday, 28 September 2015
Our intention was to complete one of the longest 'Great Short Walks' in the book - Cradle Mountain Summit. Depending on the route you take, it's between 12 & 15k and takes between 6 & 8 hours.
We chose to go via Marions Lookout, then after summiting (yeah that's a word), we would loop around the Face Track, then back down the other side of Dove Lake. The weather was perfect - sunny, still and beautiful..
Whilst I wouldn't say the kids were looking forward to it, they were mentally and physically prepared for the challenge.
We climbed up from Dove Lake to Marions Lookout, which was a lot steeper that I remembered or was expecting, and certainly the thought of climbing that with our fully loaded overland track packs in January was quite sobering!
The views from the top were great though..
After that we had a few kilometres of relatively flat walking, some of it through icy slushy snow drifts, to get to the start of the serious climbing.
Then the real challenge began.. we went up...
and up..and up..
and in the end we stopped. The size of the rocks had been getting bigger and bigger, and whilst the kids could just about get up them, coming down was going to be very very difficult. There was also a steady succession of people coming down with stories of not making it to the top due to the sketchy slippery snow drifts that needed to be negotiated just before the summit. So after negotiating a particularly tricky rock section that stretched up to one of the many large rock pillars, we rounded a corner and saw another even trickier section. And we still weren't near the snow drifts previous climbers had told us about. So after a bit of of break and a discussion, we decided to turn around. Funnily enough, at that exact point (which we can't decide whether to call the Pillar of Disapointment, or the Boulders of Broken Dreams), another two groups turned around, and another two groups only got as far as crossing the next gulch before they too packed it in. I think we definitely had better fitness than those groups, but we were disadvantaged by lack of height. And I should point out that the decision was made by Jon and I (with our responsible parent's hats on - albeit briefly) - the kids were happy to keep going.
So we stopped for lunch a bit further down, put on some very belated sunscreen (clearly our responsible parent's hats should have been put on a lot earlier), then continued on around the Face Track.
After the ascent, the Face Track, whilst rough, steep and snowy in places, felt like a doddle..
The area around Twisted Tarn felt like a little magic land, full of pencil pines, tiny lakes and stunted trees..
Then it was time for our final descent down a rocky ridge back to Lake Dove - we were still pretty high up, so there was still a ways to go..
but we made it. Our day out was in total around 7 hours of walking and resting (a fair bit of resting!). The kids were great - there was almost no grumbling and I think they really enjoyed themselves.
So, it was technically a failure, but the day was a great success.