Mt Charles and the Bee Hive 21 June 2014.
Given that my husband and I have made a snap decision to go to Europe next weekend, I feared that going off collecting mountains here in Tassie today sniffed suspiciously of irresponsibility and self-indulgence. I should be home mowing the lawn, tending the garden and getting ready to go away. But I really needed to get out and walk up mountains, sit on top and hear the sound of friendly voices. I signed up for the Pandani trip, set the alarm for an ungodly hour and once more found myself driving slowly through the thick fog and darkness of the low agricultural lands, wending my way towards our meeting point at the pub at Derwent Bridge near Lake St Clair.
King William I, Mulligan’s Peak, Mt Pitt and more (Slatter’s Peak I think) from Bee Hive.
After Poatina the beginnings of colour in the sky began to emerge and as the road zigzagged to gain height I got to watch the sunrise on the zigs. By the time I was passing the Great Lake on the tops, the sky had the dusky pink alpenglow that I love so much, and the fog was reduced to thin, attractive wisps here and there. It looked as if it was going to be a lovely day. It was great to be out in its wide spaces and to have the prospect of a new mountain fuelling my excitement while I drove.
Lake King William, seen behind the striped blinds of skinny, underfed eucalypts on the summit of Mt Charles
It was also just what I needed to enter the pub and see friends again, most of them circled around the fire having coffee or hot chocolate before we set off on the business section of our outing. Hugs all round and we were soon away on our next adventure – a very little one at first, as the club had acquired a key to a magic gate, so we drove to an old flying fox apparatus that my gps says only left us 130 vertical and 550 horizontal metres to climb to the summit. This was pretty quickly dispensed with, even though we lingered for quite a while on the top, gazing at the unique view that Mt Charles offered of Lake King William far below.
We had not done enough, of course, so off we went to the next mountain, the Bee Hive, near two peaks that most of us did together less than a year ago (Calder’s Lookout and Mt Arrowsmith). This one was a much longer enterprise: 16 kms round trip with a scanty 240 ms climb, all done in a rush at the end.
Summit area, Mt Charles
Over 7 kms in each direction were along the Bee Hive canal dirt road (locked), beside the canal. We all proceeded fairly purposefully at a pace we never do in the bush. It made for quite an interesting change, almost marching rather than pushing and goose stepping, weaving and dodging, but chatting furiously the whole way. On the way back, Bec and I saw the most humungous paw print: we assume that of a grandpa wombat. He must have been a mighty specimen to make a print that big! We also saw, at the other extreme of the size spectrum, a tiny little antechinus. The fact that it was dead was sad, but it gave us all a chance to have a really close inspection. It was a darling little thing. Apparently the male of this species manages a record-breaking, twelve-hour-long copulation, after which he dies of exhaustion. The female bears, raises and weans the resulting litter, and then usually also dies, similarly effete. They’re the smallest marsupials, and look somewhat like a mouse, a little like a miniature hedgehog from the distance.
Bec has just finished her exams for this semester. She, too, was very happy to be out here with her friends.
The lighting on top thrilled me, with patches of sun set against brooding and ominous coal-grey cumulus clouds in a moody scene. The quartzite rocks lit up when they caught the sun, already sinking in its short, low, winter arc across the sky.
Becca on Bee Hive
I was not well, so was in survival mode (and I was carrying my heavy 6D camera plus another one, so did not fancy falling); I therefore enjoyed being a spectator rather than participator of the game of button grass bounding that took place on our descent. It is quite hilarious seeing a man in a kilt (which Graham had chosen for the day) bouncing like a bunny rabbit from tuft to tuft. Graham was rather evasive when questioned about how traditional he was apropos of undergarments and kilts. He was obviously pretty confident about not toppling too badly. Mounds of button grass are not the most predictable of landing places that this earth has to offer.
Coralie climbing an extra little bump we did on the way back
Soon enough it was time for the long haul back across the central highlands, dodging wallabies, paddymelons and possums, and trying to stay awake as I headed for home, starving.
Beautiful Mt Gell with a spotlight on her southern flank