Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham Nov 2014
Sunrise, Friendly Beaches
The day for climbing My Freycinet and Mt Graham had a remarkably lazy feel to it right from the start. Sunrise was magnificent, and we were in no hurry to leave the beautiful beach that we’d camped beside. It’s pretty hard not to want to linger longer by pure white sand, aquamarine water and pink sky.
Having climbed Mt Dove (and Mt Amos) the previous day, the four of us were still in a jubilant mood, and looking forward to today’s mountains, even though they offered no particular climbing challenges. Having changed our plans of where to sleep (see yesterday’s posting), we were running about 28 hours late, but that didn’t matter on a day with only two easy mountains on the programme and all day in which to complete them.
Off we set at last for the Wineglass Bay saddle. Wineglass never palls. A google search tells me that it is consistently rated as one of the top ten beaches of the world – which means that the judges have unexpectedly good taste. It is magic. For the second time in two days, the girls had to pinch themselves to make sure they hadn’t gone to heaven early. You have to spend time at a beach that wonderful, so we stopped at its entrance to have a swim. (No, not me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m too much of a wuss for that. I always photograph the swimmers and mentally join in that way.) We then lengthened contact with the beach by having a slightly early lunch at the other end. The day was long; our goals still easily achievable.
At last we had reached the business end of the day: stomachs satisfied, swimming urge dissipated, off we climbed through the forest and along the track that was almost white with the eroded quartz grains. Everywhere we looked, coloured flowers drooped over the track, picking up the light as they did so – shining yellow, white, pink and purple and greeting us as we passed, brushing our legs with their perfume.
Up on the tops we met a group from LWC who had also chosen the single dry location of Tasmania this weekend, and warm hugs and greetings (and introductions to the Swedish girls) were exchanged. They were on their way to the beach below to camp, while our goal was to sleep on the summit of Mt Graham. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll by now know that that is my style. We only took about five more minutes after meeting the others to arrive at our destination, so were setting up our tents quickly and looking out at louring clouds. Hey. BoM said there would be no rain here today. How dare they look so businesslike! For the first time that day, there was a little haste. We did want to summit Freycinet today and not postpone it. There was still enough light.
It took only eighteen minutes down to the saddle without packs, and then twenty three up Freycinet along a track that filled us with delight as it weaved through the open forest replete with flowers. Once we were on top, we could relax about encroaching darkness – and the weather. We still had heaps of light left, and the rain was holding off. It was time for general exploration, handstands and jumping poses on the rocks that had enough space for such things.
Back at the tents, we were in the process of boiling water for dinner when the hail began. I poured water on the packets of powder to rehydrate them and we all huddled into our two-man tent. It was cosy with four. Hail changed to rain, accompanied by gruff, angry wind, but none of that mattered: we had our safe haven, and ate our rehy-dehy food with relish. The day before we had discovered that we all love singing. There we sat in a tent in the storm and sang for the next three hours: some beautiful, gentle songs with soothing melodies and haunting harmonies; some silly, make-us-all-giggle ones. Some sophisticated, some childish. Some negro spirituals and rounds. On we went, laughing and singing and enjoying ourselves, finishing up with Christmas carols before the girls went out into the night to find their tent and “sleep” (the wind raged so strongly that no one actually got much slumber, but at least we lay down and pretended. It was worth losing sleep just to be there and experience this beautiful mountain and the fury of the elements).
In the morning, we enjoyed sunrise from the summit which was only about two minutes from the tent. The wind had not yet abated, but we weren’t being blown off our feet. A bank of clouds prevented the sun from coming straight out of the ocean, but we loved it anyway, and gazed in wonder that one could camp in a spot such as this. The girls bubbled with enthusiasm.
We sang nearly the whole way down the mountain, full of joy at the beauty around us, and stopped at the beach for yet more swimming, eating and gymnastics. The last time I did handstands was in the 1980s, when I did them in the surf with my niece, Sarah, gleefully doing stands in shallow water and then being tipped over by the approaching wave. It was time to see if I could still do them. I thought it would be rather embarrassing to end up needing to be helicoptered out because I’d hurt my back doing cartwheels along the beach, but fortunately it didn’t come to that. Both handstands and cartwheels “worked” (generous assessment), but certainly not with anything like the style of my teenage years!! I used to adore gymnastics. Legs were not straight; body was not directly over my hands – but I had huge fun trying. Salome and Molly were fantastic. It’s actually very hard in the sand, as it sucks your energy instead of giving you spring back. When you admire the photo of Molly below doing a handless cartwheel, just remember that. Normally such things are done on a sprung floor. Her “bounce factor” is brilliant.