Saturday 26th September – Mt Maroon
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 188
1,146 cases: 3 new (2 are crew members from an international vessel and the other is an overseas arrival in quarantine), 7 active.
Climbing up Mt Maroon
Bronwen and I had planned to meet Carissa at the start of the Mt Maroon track at two o’clock, which meant leaving home at midday—but luckily Carissa was running a bit late and postponed to 2:30 PM, because we were also running very late and by the time we’d finished packing, it was nearly 1 o’clock. Fortunately traffic wasn’t bad, so after a 1 hour 36 minute drive we got to the car park towards the end of Cotswold Road at 2:45 PM. Carissa was already there.
We left on our walk at three o’clock, after Bronwen managed to tie our bed rolls onto her pack with all kinds of random things as she’d forgot to bring the string to do so. I was worried I might die as I hadn’t been on any hard bushwalking since I went to Ayer’s Rock, but while I did get quite hot and puffed Carissa had been silks training earlier in the morning and climbed three whole mountains yesterday, so was already tired before starting, which meant I was able to keep up. There was only one part towards the top where I found it a bit scary, but as I’m very brave, I managed to continue without dying.
The walk up to the flat camping area (where you aren’t allowed to camp) took 1 hour 45 minutes. We dumped our packs there and continued on to the summit.
Sunset from Mt Maroon
It took around 25 minutes to get from the no-camping area to the summit, where we gently froze until the sun set. It was quite windy, so no drone flying was possible. It was, however, quite scenic—with views all the way to the Gold Coast. To save weight I hadn’t bothered to bring any warm clothes, which while it did save weight, did mean that I got quite cold in the arctic gale-force winds blowing across the summit. If it wasn’t for Bronwen’s Mum’s emergency poncho thing that Bronwen leant me, I’d probably have frozen.
As soon as the sun set, we rushed back down to the no-camping area to set up our tents and build a nice little fire in the conveniently provided fireplace (because it was very, very cold). Bronwen and I ate a can of extra sweet corn kernels and a can of baked beans for dinner.
Then we pretended to go to sleep—getting in our tent and lying on our almost entirely useless “sleeping mats”, turning over and over in our sleeping bags (which is quite hard to do) so as to evenly damage both hips and ensure one side of one’s neck wasn’t more painful than the other, interspersed with marvelling at the cyclonic-sounding wind smashing through the trees above us, but leaving it completely still in the hollow where we were camped. I hadn’t brought anything to use as a pillow to save weight, but I soon found out that it’s actually not possible for humans to sleep without a pillow, so I had to use my dirty shoe, covered with my sleeping-bag bag, as a pillow. This, annoyingly, only worked one way—so I had to turn it to face the other way every time I rolled over.
Sunday 27th September – Mt Maroon & The Lower Portals
Coronavirus Lockdown Day 189
1,157 cases: 1 new (acquired overseas and is in hotel quarantine), 8 active.
Sunrise on Mt Maroon
Some bright lights walked past at 4:24 AM, which was exciting and made a nice change from my “wait until the pain was too great to bare, then roll over onto the other side and wait until the pain was too great to bare” procedure I’d been using to get through the night, then shortly after at 4:45 AM my alarm went off and I got up. Carissa was also up and—after a short wait for Bronwen to get ready—we rushed up to the summit to watch the sunrise.
This time we all took our sleeping bags, so everyone was nice and warm. This turned out to be a good idea, because it was very windy—even windier than yesterday—and also much colder. My thermometer said 6° at one point, which with the wind chill made it feel like -30°. In one of those amazing coincidences that happen far more likely than statistically feasible, the bright light that had walked past at 4:24 AM turned out to be a friend Carissa met while she was walking through Nepal, who she hadn’t met since.
Climbing down Mt Maroon
After the sun rose and the pretty sunsets turned into normal sky, we walked back to the no-camping spot and had breakfast. Bronwen and I shared a can of Mexican beans, and a few Chicos (chocolate flavoured jelly babies) for breakfast, before packing the tent up and heading back down the path towards the car.
My legs were feeling quite weak and I wasn’t looking forward to going back down the scary part—but as often happens, I didn’t find it at all scary going down, and the walk down only took an hour and a quarter.
Once we got back to the car we found that Bronwen had left her window open all night—but surprisingly no one had broken in, not even any animals, which was fortunate considering that we had a pile of salad sandwiches in the car that they could have eaten.
Carissa left as she had work today, and Bronwen and I drove to the Lower Portals car park to argue about whether we should walk to Lower Portals. The car park was almost completely full, and it was very hot, dusty, and unpleasant, and my legs were tired and sore, so I didn’t think we should go—but Bronwen did, so we walked to Lower Portals.
We left most of our stuff in the car, just taking the one pack with Wallace (the drone) and some water in it—which Bronwen carried.
It took 1 hour 25 minutes to get to the Lower Portals—via a very hot and dusty walk that felt much longer than I remembered. We passed quite a lot of people on the walk, most of which must have been camping because once we got to the swimming hole there were only a handful of people there. I managed to take Wallace (the drone) for a bit of a flight, and Bronwen went for a swim in the very-cold water.
The walk back took 1 hour 20 minutes.
Bronwen and I drove from the Lower Portals carpark to Rathdowney, where we stopped and ate a can of soup, before continuing on to Beaudesert, where we stopped at a Woolworths for me to buy an iced coffee so as not to fall asleep while driving—and also bought a very cheap chocolate mud cake and some cream filled buns.
The hour’s drive from Beaudesert to home was uneventful.
I’d gone all stiff and wasn’t able to walk very well, and was incredibly dirty, so a nice hot shower the first thing, followed by lots of effort in unpacking the car, then some hot, cheesy two-minute noodles, and then bed.