Hartz Peak 2019

It seems to be a recently established tradition that we climb Hartz Peak the day after we return to Creekton Falls to have a family ‘Bruce memorial’. That is, we did it last year, and again this year. Hartz Peak is near our base of Driftwood Cottages at Dover (nearer still to Geeveston), and is doable for the children. Traditions are good things to have, as long as you don’t become their slave.

Some wet, muddy bits, that convinced Abby she needs bush boots.

I recently read a book by Katherine Abetz (An Obstinate Love) set in the Federation era, in which they took three days to climb Hartz Peak (and wore long frocks and high heels shoes). Abby wore a tutu, as you do if you’re three, and strapped leather shoes, and we were back by early afternoon of the day we set out. Gussy had his proper bush shoes on, and Abby agrees that she needs a pair. She got her feet very muddy, and a little bit wet. Unlike the characters in Katherine’s book, the children elected to run most of the way, despite Abby’s tender age. We adults, more burdened down with gear, went at a more measured pace. Gussy pressed on the accelerator between Ladies Lake and the top, so I left the group to keep him company, tucking in behind him to let him keep his nose in front. I rather think that next year, when he will be in third class, I will have no choice in the being behind bit. This year I was comfortable, but aware that the pace was verging on the “not so”. Soon I would be puffing. He is getting very fit, and already has a fantastic beep test score.

And she’s off again on the boardwalk.

Keithy braved a swim in Ladies Lake, to “have one for Bruce”, who, for most of his life until Parkinson’s got a good grip, swam any season, any weather, any altitude. I have pictures of him and our daughter swimming with icebergs in the Alps. Keith was a delicate shade of blue at the end. The rest of us watched.

On the way back, the tutu hit the rucksack.

Predictably, Abby was very prepared to examine insects and other interesting features on the way down. She is a diminutive three, and her running on the outbound journey must have been pretty exhausting.

Hartz Peak 2018 Oct

Hartz Peak 2018 Oct

Abby surveys the view from Hartz Mountain.
It has been six years since I last climbed Hartz Peak: certainly time for a revisit, and what fun to be able to share it with the family. This would be Abby’s first Abel, Gussy’s second.

Hartz summit in view
Of course, with young children, the going is slower, and most unusually, our ascent was punctuated with a swim in Ladies Tarn. In fact, some of us swam there in both directions. Even Abby got brave enough to strip off all her clothes, but changed her mind about immersion once her toes felt the gelid water.  I didn’t even think about it.

Ladies Tarn
Hartz Peak has a track the whole way, so is very easy for fit children to accomplish. Gussy, aged seven, fair bounced up the mount. Abby, aged two, took longer, and had to hitch a ride for part of the way. Porters and children needed a break at the tarn.

Both children took great pleasure in touching the summit cairn, and in having lunch on top of a mountain. Here are some photos of the journey to the top to give you an idea of what it’s like if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of doing this one. The actual walking time was about half an hour to the tarn, and a further half to the top (Gussy times, not Abby ones). The return was actually a little slower than the ascent. Gussy shares his nan’s summit fever (the two of us went on ahead of the others together) and is cautious on the downhill. I actually went on ahead on the rebound in order to check out Keoghs Falls – but they were a huge disappointment, and I didn’t even bother photographing them.

Hartz Peak summit area Gussy

Hartz Peak summit area Abby

Hartz Peak and Mt Snowy 2012

Hartz Peak and Mt Snowy, 17 Nov 2012.

The view from Hartz Peak
This was not my happiest trip ever: The others in the group were dawdling while I wanted a workout. I can run up Hartz Peak, but knew I’d get into trouble for hurrying, so I walked along singing and dreaming and got into trouble for hurrying – ‘racing’ it was called.
The redeeming part of this venture was when four of us gained permission to be out of eyeshot and to climb Mt Snowy unaccompanied. We tallied up that we had well over a hundred years of capable bushwalking experience between us, and yet we needed permission to go down to the end of the town. Off we set before any minds changed.

View from Hartz Peak

Snowy from Hartz
I had already chosen my route – all my routes need to be “Bruceable”, in deference to my husband’s reduced coordination thanks to his Parkinson’s disease.. He is nonetheless highly capable. We slid down the vegetation on the slopes of Hartz, having fun swinging like orangutangs from the branches, eventually arriving at the Hartz-Snowy saddle in good time. There was a pad up Snowy, and no one to rebuke me for being too fast. I was allowed to go at my pace – oh the freedom of it all. When allowed to climb at my own pace, I am in a kind of trance when climbing a mountain. This semi-hypnotic state is wonderfully liberating. We all met up at the top, pleased with ourselves.

Three of the four miscreants.

The way down was superb fun. Of course the bit to the saddle was easy, as was the part to the tarns below Hartz. But then we decided to get fancy, contouring around (we thought) but being a bit distracted in our aims by the thick bush. In the end, the easiest way through was on hands and knees in the mud. Now we were wombats. I loved being a wombat. We all did. Eventually we intersected with the track that descends from Hartz and made faster progress to the finish. That was grand.