Black Bluff Range 2014 Feb

Black Bluff and Black Bluff Range, 15 Feb, 2014

Banks of the Leven River near Taylors Flats, below Black Bluff.
Surprised by Joy is the title of a book by C.S. Lewis, but I’ll steal his words to use as a summary to describe our walk to Black Bluff and the Black Bluff Range on Saturday.
Paddys Lake

First, we were surprised by the beauty of scenery, which far surpassed any expectations, and second, surprised by the weather, which went nowhere near the grim predictions of the Bureau of Meteorology. I was also surprised by the appealing banks of the Leven River from Taylors Flats to the start of the climb proper. The only thing that didn’t surprise was fun of the climb. I once received the double-entendre cognomen “Mountain Maid”, and that journalist really did get it right. I am always high in more than one way when on top of a mountain, and I invariably adore the actual activity of climbing to get up there.

Near the summit
Taylors Flats – a location seemingly in the middle of nowhere – turned out to be a grassy oasis with bright green banks leading down to a tranquil, delightfully clear and inviting Leven River. One parks there and follows the peaceful banks along for a short while before climbing. I noted that the depth was probably just right in places for a dip at the far end of the day. Pity the forecast was for plenty of rain.
We startled a wedge-tailed eagle munching a morning tea (of possum) as we went along. He didn’t enjoy our interruption, actually, so did not fly away or even ascend to giddy heights, but just moved along to perch in a tree only slightly out of reach so he could resume his gastronomic pleasures once we’d departed. This gave us a good view of him!
Up we went into the clouds, stopping at Paddys Lake for our first proper stop with drink and snacks.
Fun rocks on the range

The only photos I had seen of this lake had not been taken in advantageous lighting, and were rather flat. Now we were at the real thing, we were further surprised by joy. She had on a silk clouded mantel that suited her complexion perfectly, with diamond studded jewellery that offset the soft greys of the cloak. The form of the Bluff behind was completely obscured, but hints of shapely rocks and King Billy pines teased us from their hiding places in the mist.

Climbing the last rocks on the range summit
Many photos later, we were off, higher up into thicker mist and our first objective, the Bluff hiding up there. We saw nothing from the top, but we were fine with that, and ready to press on to the highest point of the range, about two kilometres further on. We wanted to finish our climbing before lunch, and, more importantly, before the heavy rain fell. As visibility was often down to about 50 metres or less, we agreed on a route before setting off, making good use of my phone gps, which has a lovely big screen and offers fully contoured maps. We marked a couple of way points that we wanted to go through en route. Off we set down the rocks into the thick grey soup.

Paddys Lake from above, on the way back down.
We had arrived at the first saddle separating the two goals, which is only a very short distance from Black Bluff itself, when all of a sudden the mist cleared, revealing an alpine moor of magnificent walking through ankle-high vegetation – mostly pineapple grass – over the hills and far away. We were excited by the beauty and by the sense of wide open space with vistas appearing and disappearing as the mist swirled around, playing games with us and the rocks around. I sang with joy. It was totally wonderful up there.

Same (but lower)
All too soon we were on the second summit, high point of the range itself, and then it was time for lunch. Thanks to the mist, the view was not static, but changed by the moment as we watched the actors in our private drama – well known, academy-award winning ones like Cradle and Barn, Murchison, Pelion West and more – make their entry, and then leave the stage.
Mycoacia subceracea: Colourful strip of fungi
Back down the bottom, there was time and warmth for a swim in the river before going to have a look at the Leven Gorge, not too far away. I’m glad BoM gets it wrong sometimes.

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