Picton 2017 Mar

Mt Picton. 31 Mar 2017

A “worthy” mountain – like Mt Picton – is like a good book that benefits from multiple readings. Each time you revisit the complexities of such a mountain, there is pleasure in a combination of reacquainting yourself with the aspects you liked the first time, with stimulation resulting from details you hadn’t noticed before, or from changes due to different conditions.

I loved Mt Picton the first time I met it, and have wanted to return ever since. The lush forest held a charm that never ceased to call me back. On this trip, I had intended to do a Picton-Burgess traverse, but had to change my plans due to family obligations. At least I had time to go up and sleep near the summit, so long as I hurried back down on the Saturday.

Carlin. Misty summit.
The river at the start was every bit as charming as my memory had it, and the forest as lush and green as I recalled. This time was slightly later in the year than my 2012 visit, which meant that plentiful fungi were about.
Last time, I had really enjoyed camping on a broad spur above Steanes Tarn, and climbing a knob nearby for better views at sunset. This time, I had to content myself with a spot right down near the water, as it was far too gusty and blustery to be any higher. There was no view, as clouds encircled the mountain, and the air had such a bite to it that I retired to my cosy tent before sunset (MOST unusual)!!

At 2 a.m., I was awoken by the sound of pelting rain (so I thought), and was airlifted by a few strong gusts of wind. I became quite glad I had to descend early in the morning. At 6.30 a.m., I was astonished to find a pile of white bordering the outskirts of my trusty tent. The pandani bushes abutting my vestibule had a coating of icy balls. The “pelting rain” had been sago snow. It was still unusually dark and the mist seemed quite thick. The wind had not yet abated. I was too wussy to leave the comfort of my tent, so cooked and ate my porridge, coffee and biscuits half in my sleeping bag, and packed everything from inside my tent, only emerging about one minute before I was ready to actually leave. What a glorious surprise when I poked my head out to find that the environment was white.

Snow fell as I edged my way carefully down the major boulder scree before entering the forest. The fungi in the moss down lower shone and glistened in their own captured water. Maybe next time I visit Picton I’ll get a full view.

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