Last year I discovered that there was an annual gathering of people who climb Mt. Taylor. Of course, you have to climb the mountain to attend as the gathering is at the top. The only draw back is the early hour: 6am. Signs had been posted on the eastern and south eastern access points to the Mt Taylor Nature Reserve. I couldn't resist the opportunity to meet some of the other climbers so I attended the 2011 gathering even though I had a number of other activities scheduled from 7am onwards on that day. The surprising thing was that there were people at the function who I had known from my previous lives - some I had not seen for many years. It was good to catch up and also to meet the other "regulars" who stomp (or run, yes run) up and down the mountain that dominates my back yard.
This year I had not seen any notification of a pre Christmas gathering on the mountain top until well into December with the date set for Thursday 20 December. This year both Trevor and I decided to attend. Trevor has been plodding up and down Mt Taylor on a regular basis for a while now so was very much entitled to attend.
The invitation suggested champagne and strawberries however we opted for coffee. It was a good chance to check out my swish new thermos - the one that will be accompanying us on our upcoming walks. Yes, it did work! The coffee remained hot and it was easy to pour from it.
Trevor generally drives to the base of the mountain while I tend to walk. The walk takes almost 30 minutes. Today I opted to join Trevor in the car. We parked just off Colquhoun St and entered the Reserve on the south western side. This gives access to "my" track up the mountain. I'll have to get some photos to show this route. It meanders across a meadow and across a generally dry creek bed before reaching the Western Powerline fire trail. The route turns up the fire trail until you reach the highest point and then you turn off the first trail across a meadow before hitting the first of the real climbs. This track is unformed and provides a real workout for your stabilisers.
This morning, when we reached the Western Powerline fire trail we were delighted to see a large mob of kangaroos spread across the meadows on either side of the trail as well as occupying the trail itself. They were a bit flighty and hopped way as we trudged up the track.
It was a very pleasant morning. The temperature was warm enough for t-shirt only and a slight warmish breeze was not a problem.
My track is not a commonly used one although it is surprising just how often I have met people using it as I am going up or down. On some of the other trails up the mountain you would be surprised not to come across other climbers no matter when you are using them. This is not the case with the route from Colquhoun Street. The only person we encountered going up or down was a runner actually using the Western Powerline trail and not climbing the mountain.
When we arrived at the top just on 6am there were already a number of people there enjoying the views and the delights of the clear early morning light. The last of the dawn pinkness was fading from the scattered clouds and the citty spread out below us like a huge forest with just the odd scar (Woden town centre, the hospital complex and civic as well as the major arterial roads) announcing that this really is an urban area. Most of the buildings are camouflaged by the mature trees they are such a feature of Canberra's suburban landscape.
People kept on arriving at the top of the mountain by a variety of the many available routes. Some came singly, others in pairs and a few groups had also made the climb. As each new person arrived there were introductions and, finally, someone arrived with sticky labels so that we could all name ourselves which meant that introductions became much easier.
The crowd started to thin around 7am and we headed down leaving a couple of stragglers behind.
All in all it was a pleasant way to start the day even if a couple of hours more sleep would have been advantageous.