Hugel 2024 Apr

Every time somebody says they want to go walking with me, I feel so fortunate. This weekend was a family one: a three-generation special, and our chosen mountain (at Kirsten’s choosing) was Hugel. Great choice. I haven’t been there since my early days of Abelling, when I climbed it in glary conditions with a bad camera.  This time, we slept up high, nice and close, so we could linger on top until the light gave us glorious conditions for our descent.

Ramaria botrytoides

We wanted beautiful light and plenty of time for our plans, so drove down the night before to Derwent Bridge. I had no idea that we would be the last guests checked in before the Hotel closed the next day. We felt very sad about this!!! That Hotel is a Tassie icon for bushwalkers. I fear for its character at the hands of NRMA who will doll it up for tourists’ dubious tastes.

Hygrocybe reesiae

Thus at 8.45, which is early for my family if not for me, we took our first steps along the track to Shadow Lake. The fungi were superb; the track, mossy and lush. We all greatly enjoyed it. That section took 1 hr 15, so I was very hungry by the time we arrived at the beach Kirsten had in mind. Time for a snack, a drink and a shoulder break.

Climbing up to little Hugel

Refreshed, on we went past Forgotten Lake, where the steep climb up the escarpment begins. Steep climbs are fun, even if we did take it pretty slowly. Our packs were heavy. I had my tripod and camera equipment aboard as I was hoping to photograph an aurora, and like the tripod for dawn and dusk at all times. Kirsten was carrying a lot to make sure Gus enjoyed it.

The last part of the climb, above Dip Lake (a nameless tarn).

We bypassed Little Hugel, saving it for the next day, and continued on to a nameless tarn, where, despite freezing temperatures, Kirsten and Gus swam while I tried to photograph the occasion. Neither of them lasted more than a second, and I was still trying to get a good angle when they had already bounced with astonishing eagerness out of the gelid water. We declared it an early lunch, and they tried to warm back up in the sun while we ate.

Hugel summit

The next section did not last long, so soon enough we were selecting our real estate for the night, a decision not based on anything mildly practical like water availability, but rather, on view. It so happened there was a little water nearby, but I was prepared to go back to wherever water might have been in order to enable a good view.

One of many fabulous summit views

Site chosen, tents up, a snack had and it was time to set out. Gus was still going well. He had done his first ever bushbashing with a heavy (for him) pack. Hugel looked nice and close, but we knew that could be deceptive, especially with a pre-teen on board.

Surveying the view during the descent

We walked along the ridge, and then attacked the rocks. We all felt the cairns were perfectly placed: not so near each other that you felt like a puppet or a robot, but often enough so that you had feedback that your route was the one intended. There was room for error and experimentation, which we appreciated.

This is what I came for

We stayed a nice long time on top: we had plenty of time for the descent and we wanted to enjoy the low light to come, so stayed there until it began to happen.

Perfect conditions.

I was thrilled to see young Gus getting out his camera and photographing aspects of the scenery that appealed to him. People who are sensitive to the beauty around them are usually people who are keen to protect and preserve it. He also chose to photograph quite a lot of fungi.

Having fun on the rocks

The day cooled down very quickly. I tested for an aurora before I turned in for the night, but nothing was happening. The other two slept in our old Macpac Olympus, a beautifully comfortable tent, albeit a heavy one. My tent, on the  other hand, allowed far too much cold mist to circulate around me, and the wind to brush my face far too often. Bad choice of tent. I was not surprised when I tested conditions later to find the mist had closed in. I did a few checks, but ascertained it wasn’t even worth getting up for dawn, which is not a bad thing, as that wet, cold air was not to my liking, and the wind was pretty stiff by dawn.

Day 2. Approaching Little Hugel

Breakfast was a cosy affair in their tent, but packing up was pretty miserable. I even had trouble separating the pole segments in order to dismantle my tent. I was relieved to be setting out, knowing that the exercise would warm me up.

Summit view

We liked the mist surrounding Little Hugel, so knew we would enjoy that small climb, and we were right.

Beautiful little fungi with guttation

There were lots of fungi in the forest to make the return journey exciting. We spent time with the best of them, but made sure we were fast enough for a nice big hamburger at the Hungry Wombat. Kirsten was excited to discover they could even do a gluten-free version for her. Not every such place is so accommodating.

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