So, I was waiting until I had successfully completed the walk before posting about it here, however this was not to be. In April, over the victorian long weekend, I attempted the Harrietville ascent to Mt Feathertop. Unfortunately; during this walk, we encountered roughly 135mm of rain in a single day and lord only knows the wind speed. After walking for what felt like an age, I found out that I and my partner had made it a hefty 2km, or as I like to think of it; nowhere.
Due to the torrential rain, the waterfall of water coming the other way and the slippery muddy walking track, I decided that it was best for our safety to turn around and go to the pub.
So, when I saw the forecast for more than 100mm of rain over the Melbourne cup weekend, you can imagine how pleased I was. A group of us, having taken the monday off, decided to “harden up” and go anyway. Mistake. I know I am promoting the ideals of planning and hiking on this site, but with more experience, you can tell where your limits are as you hit them. I know my limits, I know the limits of my usal hiking buddy, and I can tell you; we got close.
The friday night drive down there was uneventful, apart from a small section where I thought I had managed to misdirect our driver along a road that I have traveled at least 2 or 3 times a year for the last 15 years. I didnt, mind you we were on the snow road, its just that I didnt recognise it in the encroaching darkness.
We set up camp at the harrietville caravan park, a cheap and easy unpowered site, just to get us through till the morning when we would ascend the mountain.
The Saturday morning we were awake by 6:30 am with a delightful pattering of rain, immediately donning my wet weather gear, I knew that this would be the way people would be looking at me for the next 4 days.
We began the ascent itself at around 10am, we made fast and good time to Picture point, the 2km mark that we had turned around at last time; this is the longest 2km I have ever walked, and I belive that it might be marked incorrectly. I had meant to use GPS co-ordinates to find out, however due to the rain, I had left my phone in the car and didnt have access. The rain was un-abaiting, and I felt like rubbish; we considered a turn around at this point, but I had waited 7 months to re-attempt this sucker, and I wasn’t giving up at exactly the same point.
We trudged on, see: the slow determined walk of somebody who has nothing left to lose, as it turned out we did lose more. One of my hiking partners, (and life partner coincidentally) was having a quick rest against a log when she was bitten by a bull ant, this was an omen of things to come. I managed to entice a few leeches to climb into my boots (I have NO idea how they snuck though my gaiters, over-pants and pants to my ankles, but they did.) and our other hiking partner just managed to fill his boots with water. By Tobias gap, or roughly 5km according to the map (I think its roughly 6km) we decided it was time to retreat before anybody got hurt. Well, hurt more at any rate.
When we were not 500M from the car, our brave bull ant bitten companion face planted in the mud. This affirmed that she would “never go near that god damn mountain ever ever again”. Now, I still have plans to do this mountain, I will complete the walk, and gosh darn it, I will put pictures of me at the summit on this site before I die, (alternatively I will have it in my Will that should I die before completing this walk, my body should be dragged to the top and a photo be taken.)
Next time Feathertop, next time…