Bastion Bluff Nov 2018
Sue and I sat together on the rocks just over the edge of Bastion Bluff, looking out at the world beyond – a world that encompassed Quamby Bluff and Mother Cummings Peak, although not contained merely by those two peaks; rather, we gazed at infinity. We both felt extremely contented: she had hurt herself crossing a swollen creek and was in pain; I was in a different kind of pain, still mourning the death of my husband, and yet we both felt an inner peace and happiness arising from being in an infinite place. “You know”, she said, ” there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be right now.” I knew exactly what she meant.
We had had a good day, full of adventure and beauty: a day marked – as is so often the case in Tasmania – by the presence of all four seasons in the space of about ten minutes, repeated several times over. We had crossed very full rivers, witnessed countless cascades and waterfalls, traversed areas of lush moss, myrtles and King Billy pines, emerged into the open to be hit by a snow squall that developed into a blizzard, enjoyed intermittent sunshine, climbed up and down a mountain over 1400 metres in height, and enjoyed the fellowship and companionship of likeminded bushies.
Our route began with a crossing of a disturbingly effervescent Mother Cummings Rivulet, which had all of us assessing pretty exactly which of the shining, most likely slippery, rocks in jumping distance from the last one we were going to commit to. Lucky, we all got across unscathed: a dunking at that early hour of a long day would have been rather tragic.
When I exercise, I seem to burn through all my supplies of blood sugar rather rapidly, and found I was very hungry by 10.30; positively ravenous by 11.30. Luckily for me, lunch number one of two was called as we emerged from the wonderful rainforest and found a sheltered spot in the now gently falling snow in the saddle before the rocky scramble up Bastion Bluff itself. Beautiful, thick, delicate flakes tickled our noses while we ate, but grew more intense once we began the climb proper and we came into the stronger winds. Now they were horizontally scurrying flakes. We turned our backs to them like a group of penguins any time we had to wait. Be that as it may, the conditions were very tolerable, and I felt snug in my gear, despite wind and snow. Later, when my feet got wet in the very soggy ground on top, I got much colder.
On the plateau on top, you would certainly not die of thirst. An army could have camped up there, and each tent had its own private pond. Slosh, slosh we went, heading for the summit area and the opening to the descent route, being intermittently gusted by driving snow, and then, suddenly and unexpectedly, walking in sunshine. Repeat many times over. Surrounding mountains appeared and vanished as the mist played its games.
See the snow on the backpack?
Back down in the rainforest, I received a shock. I had been in this area only a couple of weeks ago when Carrie and I went to Bastion Cascades and walked the Bastion circuit. This time, however, there were countless huge trees, freshly blown over (I suspect in Thursday night’s storm), lying across the track and obliterating all signs of the previous track. Each giant had caused an amazing amount of collateral damage as it tumbled. Rubble abounded.
My dismay has nothing to do with the obstacle course that has replaced the track: rather, it is because these fallings have already allowed a large amount of extra light into the forest. This will damage many fungi, mosses and lichens, and will allow weeds to colonise. The open spaces will also allow winds to build up more momentum next storm, which means even more damage will take place. I fear this marks the beginning of this section of the forest’s decay. However, the forest has been compromised, not destroyed. We finished our day with a sense of how extremely privileged we are to live in a place where such beauty and adventures are so easily obtained. They keep me sane and balanced; they refresh me in a way that non-natural things cannot.