So here we were – the last day. Breakfast was followed by a briefing from our guide, and a reminder of the gear we needed: gloves, hats, snowshoes, poles. Feeling weirdly nervous (maybe having stuck it out and walked every day, I thought it might be my turn to be felled by injury) I got my things and headed out.
The Thredbo Lift Company had kindly provided us with free passes, so back in the bus we went to drive to the bottom of the mountain. Gear on and into the chairlift. The day was beautiful: bright sun, bright sky. Not much snow on the trails visible from the lift.
But at the top there was thick snow as far as the eye could see. (So much for my assumption that a) the highest mountain in Australia wasn’t that high and b) wouldn’t have much snow. Hey - do you think maybe there is a reason they call ‘em the Snowy Mountains?)
Snowshoes on – obligatory photo opp – trudged over to the path just visible in the snow. This metal grid made easier walking but the snowshoes were a bit of a liability whether worn (clunky) or carried (heavy). It was 6km to the summit and relatively slow going because of the snow.
We had a quick break for water with a view of the summit, looking like a perfect boule of vanilla ice cream.
Trudge, trudge, trudge. Some clouds coming down ahead of us. Singing hristmas songs to keep myself going: Sleighbells ring – pant – are you - pant pant - listening?
We stopped again at the base of the summit – more cloud but no snow falling so all clear to go to the top.
The boule was hard work. Steep, slippery, using snowshoes to carve steps. Every breath burned. Two thirds of the way up we came to a vertical section. With no purchase, people were slipping backwards. Using the points of my showshoes, poles, fingers (teeth, even?) I went up on all fours. Once over the hump we could see the top. We waited until everyone was together then walked the last 20m or so.
And how did it feel when we made it to the summit? Unreal. Surreal. Not quite the feeling of accomplishment I expected. But perhaps it hadn’t sunk in. That, or I was subdued by the knowledge that we still had to walk back down. It was beautiful up there, though.
Photos. Picnic. Then, after one last look around, turned to face the descent. The only logical way over the hump was seated. Obviously. Coat-tail tobogganing is excellent fun.
Trudge, trudge, trudge through the snow. Beautiful views of the valley. Thinking about how I felt now that the hiking was nearly over.
Almost before I realised it, we were back at the chairlift. On the way down I took photos of my feet and thanked the stars that I wouldn’t have to put the boots on ever again.
That’s the end of the nuts-and-bolts (blisters and porridge?) story. I have been thinking a lot more about what the hike has meant to me and will post about that next week. But this interpretative panel we passed on the way up may have a clue: everything is connected.