Rambles of ambles and sagas of suburbia

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mt Feathertop & the Razorback Spur, Victoria. January 2012


Mt Feathertop
Mt Feathertop

Well, this was the final day of the Mt Feathertop saga and I woke up feeling surprisingly well. The previous evening I'd barely been able to move after the Diamantina Spur slog, and not helping things was the monster blister on the outside of my heel which was starting to bite. It wasn't a big problem with only one day to go, as Smuffin had brought sports tape which I would use to convert my foot into a Tutankhamen replica. That was until I asked him for it and after about five minutes of rummaging through his pack he looked up and declared, "I've left it on the kitchen bench". We really should have asked some questions at the start, as I had a huge roll of the stuff sitting in the boot of his car, but neglected it with the thought, "Nah, Smuffin lives on tape. I'll use his if required."

The day was sunny, but quite cool and I was looking forward to a cup of tea. Do you know where this is going? First of all, there were some nice sights of the arching trees surrounding our camp area.


trees arching at Federation Hut camp site


I'd brought along the Kovea Supalight Titanium stove which I always use and it's fine for the solo walking I usually do, but it was getting a little overwhelmed with three people cooking and the issue of how many gas canisters to bring for the trip was about to pop up. I thought two would be enough for two nights out bush, but on this morning whilst I was hanging out for some porridge and a cup of tea, Smuffin announced, "Well, that's it for the gas. Do you want some cold porridge?"

Smuffin wasn't doing well with delivering the news, so the end result was a complete poverty breakfast of salmon in a bag, whilst washed down with some cold water. Actually, if the salmon came with bacon and hollandaise sauce then it'd be passable, but in its current state it was as underwhelming as anything I've had out bush for quite some time. I have no idea how two canisters couldn't last any more than three days, as I've used the same amount over a week on my own. Oh well, it was time to pack up and get out of there with the lure of a hot brew at the end of the walk.


skink lying on tree branch


The plan was to scoot up the extra 200 metres of elevation to the top of Mt Feathertop, have a look around and then head straight along the Razorback Spur back to the car. The distance to be covered was bearable and there were no ugly hills to negotiate. The rush hour of day trippers on the Razorback would be in full swing, so there wasn't going to be many isolated moments of walking. Smuffin was adamant he was going to ignore the summit of Feathertop and make a mad dash for the car as in his words, "My legs have only got 12 more kms in them. Additional climbing has not been factored into my energy reserves."

It was time to head off and get some time on the 'six man pyjama clan' who were still in bed after a solid night of TALKING LOUDLY. Up above it was jet contrail madness which is a photo opportunity that I like to abuse.


jet contrail near Federation Hut camp


There's a slight uphill rise to the turn off for Mt Feathertop summit. A huge Snow gum tree sits at this spot and it's unfortunately copped its fair share of name engravings by dickheads over the years. I guess they're the same people who interact with nature by throwing rubbish away after they've used it? The older I get, the more potential I'll be the next Winnebago Man, as the whole interacting with society and people is a bit tiring for me mentally.

Anyway, it was time to drop the packs and head up to the summit. Smuffin still had no regard about climbing due to the 'unfactored' energy expenditure, until some bloke came running past us, said "hello" and then continued powering up the track to the summit. We all looked at each other and decided that if some nut can run up Mt Feathertop, then Smuffin could drag himself up by walking. So, off we went and the contrails kept coming.


jet contrail near Mt Feathertop
Jet contrail near Mt Feathertop

The final climb is certainly quite comfortable without a pack on and I kept thinking that I must come back in winter. Even on a sunny, summers day the summit looks like a bit of a beast compared to how it must look when covered in snow.


Mt Feathertop from the path whilst climbing
Mt Feathertop

The running man had already summited, but I did catch him walking up the final metres when he thought no one was looking. As a former runner, that's the oldest trick in the book. If people were watching, I'd power along with chin up and arms pumping, but as soon as I got around a corner I'd resume my normal Emil Zátopek technique of head rolling and tongue hanging out.


jet contrail near Mt Feathertop
Another jet contrail?

There is of course a 'double hump' to the summit and it's the second one that apparently is the official peak. By the time we made it, running man had set off back down so we had the top to ourselves.


approaching Mt Feathertop summit
Closing in on the peak

At 1922 metres it's a great spot to sit down and relax. There was a haze to the sky, but the views were still clear unlike my previous time when clouds were constantly whizzing past me. The south side of the mountain drops off alarmingly, and whilst showing Smuffin my agility and skill of 'sitting and then standing at rapid speed' I unbalanced myself and nearly fell down it. Now, that would be the ultimate hiking fiasco.


view of Diamantina and Razorback Spurs from the summit
Diamantina and Razorback Spurs from the summit

There was ample opportunity to admire the hellish Diamantina Spur from another angle. I noted that the point I thought I had almost climbed it was way off, as there's a substantial climb towards the end before it hits the Razorback Spur. It's visible in the photo above, being the spur in the middle of the picture.

Great views and guess what? Yep, more bloody contrails.


Jet contrail from Mt Feathertop summit


Two


Well, that's it. The summit was done and after resting for 20 minutes or so we set off back down. A steady line of people were heading up, so it was a good time to keep moving. In fact, I reckon I passed at least 20 people walking up in dribs and drabs. I said a powerful "G'day", to all of them as they went by and the reply rate was roughly 90% which is pretty good going. I've had some people look at me and not speak before and this was no different, but at least they were in the minority.


descending Mt Feathertop on path
On the way down...

Smuffin and Anon had gone a fair way ahead which left me with an opportunity to snap a few photos at my own pace.


alpine wild flower


alpine trees near Mt Feathertop


weathered rock


I also had one last chance to turn around and look at Mt Feathertop up close for the last time for the day.


Mt Feathertop


Well, we collected our packs and began to head off on the Razorback Spur. My blistered foot was at a very high state of annoyance, so I was glad to be finishing the hike. Unfortunately when one's in that frame of mind the Razorback is not the greatest place to be, as the end is visible for nearly the whole days walk. What's bad about that is, it seems to remain at an eternal distance away!


Razorback Spur


Initially the track passes 'High Knob' which intersects with the Diamantina Spur. Actually, everyone we'd met the previous day called it 'Little Mt Feathertop' which makes no sense at all as 'Little Mt Feathertop' sits next to Federation Hut. Oh well, following the 'High Knob' the track passes the two other rocky knobs which are called guess what? Yep, 'Twin Knobs'. If you've got a knob fascination they're all in the photo above. The only thing that's missing from the ridgeline that day is the 'Big Knob', but I was too busy taking the picture to be in it.


tree on the Razorback Spur


You know what? The rest of the walk was by the numbers as we set off for the car. Smuffin may have been worrying about his energy levels, but it didn't appear to be a problem as he set off at a mild sprint. In fact, from the point we put our packs back on at the turn-off, I didn't see him for the rest of the day.

The day trippers were now coming thick and fast which takes the fun out of any walk. My mouth was dry from both exertion and the amount of times I said "G'day" in the one afternoon. There were some sights of interest though, including three blokes with mountain bikes who were pushing them along the track. I'm not sure what point there is in having a bike if you're not actually riding it? I like both riding and walking, but not combined. If I'm going to push something along with wheels on it out bush, I'd rather settle on a gelato cart.


rocks and trees on the Razorback Spur


I'm struggling to think of many more highlights over the last few hours of this walk. It doesn't help writing this stuff after a day of work and my brain has thoroughly switched off. That work business really gets in the way of some proper blog writing.

Oh yeah, there was a couple in our travels who I noted had quite distinct European accents. I didn't think too much of the origin, but decided in my fatigued state that they were from the Netherlands. The reason why? Well, the bloke had bright orange pants on which was enough to convince me of the Dutch connection. He was also a bit of a thrill seeker as he had his shiny, bald head totally uncovered in the sun, which was causing a bit of a 'tomato effect' from burning. I grimaced a bit when I saw his flaming scone, as I'm frightened of our sun and I cover up so much outdoors that if I was in France I'd be arrested.


small forest on the Razorback Spur


Anyway, this story leads back to Smuffin who had vanished miles ahead. The Tomato couple had caught up to him as he was lying on the side of the track begging for food. The gas fiasco at breakfast time had clearly taken its toll. Apparently Ms Tomato took so much pity on Smuffin's dying corpse that she offered up her supply of Oreo biscuits to get him to the end of the walk. Great! I love the Tomato couple!


alpine flower growing between a rock


There were still some nice sights on the way. The Razorback Spur is not totally exposed as there are sections where it descends into some nice forests with quite lush grass in them. They'd be nice spots to pitch a tent if only there was a water source somewhere. On this summers day the forest sections were protected from the wind which made for a hot and steamy walk. I really was looking forward to the finish. What else? Oh yeah, a few more photos.


sap on the bark of eucalyptus tree


bee on wildflower


The last time I walked along Razorback Spur the scene was completely different as I was up to my knees in snow. Mt Feathertop looked completely different on that occasion.


Mt Feathertop and Diamantina Spur under snow
Mt Feathertop and Diamantina Spur in the snow

On a warm sunny day it was certainly looking a lot more casual.


Mt Feathertop and Diamantina Spur


Actually, come to think of it the Razorback itself was a lot more exciting with the low cloud and snow cover. The photo below shows Ben slogging his way up one of the many undulations of the spur.


Razorback Spur under snow


There's even a picture of me plodding along before we abandoned that particular walk. If the planets align correctly this year I might get back up there for a snow sequel.




The spur is a bit of a killer towards the end as the path never seems to conclude, and still the road doesn't get any closer.


following the track on the Razorback Spur


Razorback Spur track


The final section of the spur is open with only a handful of trees around, so I was lucky to spot a red Wattlebird watching me as I passed by.


Red

 
This walk is wrapping up as of now. There's not much else to add other than meeting three women wearing sandals complete with a dog in a handbag asking if the track had "lots of hills in it". That was my last 'highlight' I'm afraid, but Smuffin had one more of his own. We of course had started the walk from the Mt Loch car park which was 2 kms from our finishing point at the Great Alpine Road opposite Diamantina Hut. This was an annoyance at the end of the day and I didn't really want to do that 2 km road bash. Smuffin who was now running on Oreo's managed to hitchhike to the car, collect it and meet us at the end complete with the remaining biscuits. Yeah!

All in all it was an entertaining walk even if the last day was a bit flat. The final days statistics via the GPS indicated, 12.90 km with another 452 metres of elevation climbed. The total for the three days wasn't too bad, being 41.45 kms long and 1691 metres in total climbed.

A final mention must go to the Kathmandu Tonalli shoes which I wore for this walk. Yeah, they're okay for short walks, but failed miserably on this occasion. I think I worked out the cause of my blister and that's a crap inner sole which had moved and compressed until it had a number of small ridges on the outside edge. I think these rubbing against my heel was the culprit. The solution? Well, how about an IKEA Finiss rubbish bin modelled by a pair of Kathmandu Tonalli shoes?


Kathmandu Tonalli shoes sitting in IKEA Finiss bin


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