Marriotts Lookout April 2014.
Mt Field National Park, where I camped in order to enable an early start to climb Marriotts Lookout.
Can anyone who has done their research actually look forward to Marriotts Lookout? The Abels book describes it as “a poor relation and ugly duckling”, covered in “dense, wiry scrub”. Further descriptors are “dark” and “uninviting”, and the book promises cutting grass, bauera, tea tree (all bad words for those in the know), stumbling over hidden logs, scrub that can exceed manageable proportions if one doesn’t happen on the best route, and a peak “that cannot be described as photogenic from any angle”. (The only photo the book offers is that of an unfurling fern frond, proof of the statement). Apparently the view redeems it from total disgrace – but I was to climb it in a grey-out with barely fifty metres visibility.
Coral lichen near the top
Not wishing to spend the rest of my unfortunately shortened life irredeemably skewered by thick scrub, hanging by my plait from a hook of bauera with not even a nice view for consolation in my last lonely moments, I elected neither to do this mountain solo nor to give my husband the dubious pleasure of following me through such barricades, but instead I signed on the dotted line of an HWC venture to the summit. If it’s going to be thick and boring, then let’s see if conversation and company can redeem the bosky fight.
The mist settled in as we drove to the start. I was not far behind the car in front, but the driver still couldn’t see me. Light drizzle fell. We hardy bunch of soldiers equipped ourselves for battle with the usual layers – for me, an icebreaker under layer, then a thermal, a long shirt, then a fleece, a super-duper event anorak, and then another old gortex outer anorak that cannot be damaged any further, having socialised too often and too closely with scoparia. I never moved fast enough to warm up, and just got colder as the day progressed.
Obligatory summit shot
After morning tea in light drizzle, we pushed on to the summit, lunched in thick mist hiding from the wind behind a rock, and then began the journey home. My fleece gloves were sodden and my fingers started to ache. My overpants were so drenched they started falling down, which made climbing over high logs interesting. Our movement to elapsed time ratio was rather alarming, but that’s how it is in bush like that.
I’m glad to have a tick beside the name “Marriotts Lookout” in my book, and pleased to have amassed another big point for my effort. However, as the view had nothing to offer by way of any other redemption for the outing, I sought mine in the small things of life: fungi have returned to the forests after a long, dry summer (the Hypholoma fasciculare and Russula persanguinea were wonderful); the outer leaves of some fagus trees were beginning to yellow; the mist on the huge glowing waxberries (Gaultheria hispida) made them even more beautiful and noticeable than they normally are (the fruit reminded me of miniature albino apples with pink tips); moss and lichen never fail to thrill me, and were to be found in the couple of patches of rainforest that we chanced on; and I always enjoy the yellowy softness of the particular green of cutting grass, which, if it can be forgiven for hurting, can be admired for its colour and the contrast in both hue and texture it provides to a forest scene.