Sunday, 20 January 2013

Great Alpine Walk: day 2

This was the first real day of our walk. Yesterday was just a travel followed by a stretch.  Today was going to be the real thing.
Breakfast was scheduled for 7:30am with 8:30 as the departure time. We had two alarms set for 6:30am and both of us beat them up. We were obviously raring to go.

We showered, dressed (except for our footwear as outside shoes/boots are not get worn inside the lodge), organised our packs as far as possible without lunch and snacks which were to be collected with breakfast.

The weather looked OK. There was some cloud but a fair amount of blue sky.

The overnight temperature had got down below zero so the day promised us a cool start.

We were a couple of minutes early for breakfast but were not the first! Lunch was the first order of the day and we collected our cute and practical insulated lunch sacks and proceeded to pack our lunch. Last night we had to give our lunch order. Just as well Trevor remembered what we had ordered: plain salad. The rolls looked great. They were crunchy multigrain rolls and, when we stopped for lunch, delicious. There was a bun for a snack, fruit and a juice. With the lunch bag packed it was time to grab the real snacks.  I filled by snack bag with dried fruit and nuts.

Breakfast was ready and we headed for the various tables that held the self serve component. With a glass of orange juice and museli with fresh fruit salad followed by a piece of toast and coffee I was set for the day. Lisa also provided a cooked breakfast however I decided that the museli was quite sufficient. Tomorrow I'll try the scrambled eggs with tomatoes.

When I went to put my boots on as we were leaving the lodge I discovered that I had only one of my gaiters. I rushed back to our room and could not see the missing one so spent the day with one gaiter on and one leg gaiterless. When we got back to our rooms after the walk there it was sitting on the towel rack in the bathroom. Don't ask!!!

With everyone on the bus we headed out of the village of Falls Creek. By 8:30 the weather had closed in and low cloud obscured the surround peaks. When we got to the dam wall of the Rocky Valley Storage there were ripples across the surface as well as mist rising from the surface. At one point there were bubbles coming up from below. All very mysterious. 

Mist rising from the surface of the Rocky Valley Storage. There were waves, too
We continued on around Rocky Valley Storage and were finally deposited near the Langford West Aqueduct. This was where our hike for the day began.

Following the trail alongside the aqueduct we had views of the misty peaks and valleys. The ghosts of the trees which had been killed by the last bushfire through this area merged with the whiteness of the mist. The walk was relatively easy as the track was fairly flat with just a gentle incline. We eventually got to the track to Cope Hut, the first of the huts we will visit on this trip.

Just before we reached Cope Hut we spied a welcome sight - a toilet. It was used by quite a few of our party while we were at the hut. We all crowded into the hut as the members of the party arrived. It was pleasant being inside out of the chill of the day.

Trevor inside Cope Hut

Back outside we retraced our steps until we picked up the track to our next hut: the Wallace Hut, which is the oldest surviving cattleman's hut in Victoria. Along the way we had come across some abandoned clothing which seems to have belonged to a school boy. No doubt his parents were probably annoyed that he had managed to lose bits of his school attire.

Once again we were delighted by an array of alpine flora showing us their attributes. While January is after the main flush of alpine flora there were still plenty of species in flower displaying their blooms for us to enjoy.

At Wallace Hut we were not alone. There was quite a sizable group of people in the area when we arrived. They quickly left the hut to us. The hut has been maintained across the years and in the past year repairs have been made to the entrance doorway and around the hut. Still, it was great to go inside and see the environment in which the cattlemen survived during the summer.

Wallace Hut
There were some magnificent old trees in the area around Wallace's Hut. Huge specimens which probably took centuries to reach their current size. They were shrouded in mist.

On leaving Wallace's Hut we made our way down to the banks of Rocky Valley Storage. This involved trekking across meadows covered in a variety of alpine flora which included heaths and grasses both of which made the traverse challenging. once down on the shore of the dam we were faced with rivulets which slowed our progress as we attempted to find crossing points that didn't end up with us sinking into mud.
Finally we got to a point where we were traversing the slopes around Rocky Valley Storage. We walked through meadows with a wonderful array of flora. There was quite an array of plants in flower to delight even the most unobservant of walkers.

Trevor eating his lunch

We stopped for lunch in a meadow on the western end of the Storage. There were plenty of large rocks to sit on and a number of the party look advantage of the improved weather, the clouds had finally lifted and the sun had come out, to lie back and rest on the meadow.

Some of our group enjoying the lunch break and the sunshine
After lunch we continued to circumnavigate Rocky Valley Storage until we reached the chairlift runs up the slopes to the ridges above the dam. We headed up the slope. It was quite challenging. Not only the pitch of the slope but also the plant material underfoot. There was a lot of lumpy grasses which made footing uncertain and added considerable strain to the climb. At the top there was a refuge which was a welcome respite from the lazy, chilly breeze.

Unfortunately, we could not stay in our sanctuary forever and once the stragglers arrived and had a chance to catch their breath it was off again to walk back to Falls Creek Village.

Phil told us that we were only 45 minutes away. Well, we were but not to the Village. It took considerably more than 45 minutes to get back. To start with Phil suggested that it was just a bit of a climb and then all downhill. If only! To get to the ridgeline that we were to walk along before heading down was quite a climb. I'll check my Runtastic statistics and confirm the climb when I get a chance. It was not just a Sunday afternoon stroll.

Finally we started down. We followed a narrow track which eventually ended in a stepped path. The steps were challenging and required close attention to where feet were placed otherwise considerable damage could have resulted to body and limbs.

We finally made it back to the Village and our lodge. A very welcome sight indeed.

Trevor and I took advantage of the spa at our lodge. It eased the tired legs.

How far had we walked? Today we walked 18.8km.

[21 January update] The elevation gain for the day was 509m with a loss of 631m.

Dinner tonight was not included so Trevor and I went off to the pub where we had a very pleasant meal. We were the only patrons to dine there. The rest of our party had decided to eat at Max's - a cafe style eatery and the only other place serving meals in Falls Creek after 5pm.


  1. The mist and coolness looks very inviting after the horrific heat of Canberra and Qld.

  2. Glad you had some below zero there.......... nothing but hot, and more hot here, even at night!