Posted by: EPIC | May 18, 2011

Snowy to Jagungal Easter Trip 2011

If you don’t know what to do with so many off days during Easter 2012, I highly recommend you try the traditional Easter trip led by Mika Kontiainen to the wilderness areas of Kosciuszko NP.

The “Easter in Kosciuszko” team of 2011 had 6 permanent and 1 temporary member: Mika K., Sam M., Mel P., Hugh P., Bec B., myself  (who had never been to Australia’s high country before) and Vincenzo, Hugh’s walking stick and loyal companion, who joined the team on day 2. Unfortunately, Vincenzo did not make it to the end of our trip as he was accidentally mistaken for firewood and left at our last campsite near Mt. Gungartan.

Our leader, Mika, introduced us to his hiking motto “not to have anyone in his grid-square” (ie. have the mountains to ourselves) right at the beginning, and this motto was a clear sign to me that I had made the right decision to sign up for his trip.  “Grid-squares only for ourselves” was the case for most of the trip with the exception of a few “intruders” in the vicinity of Mt. Jagungal.

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 The plan was to start at the Snowy River Trailhead ASAP on Good Friday, walk upstream along the Burrungubugge River and wander through Bulls Peaks towards Mt. Jagungal, which would be the north-most point of the hike, summit the mountain and after that turn southward – cross the Valentine River, walk through the Kerries Ridge, climb Mt. Gungartan and through Disappointment Spur walk out at the Guthega Power Station on Tuesday early afternoon.: an easy and relaxing trip (ca. 12 km/day) doable in three days (according to the leader) which we were doing in five since Mika was recovering from a foot injury. Besides, unlike one legendary member of the ANUMC, whose motto is “this is a bushwalk, not a holidayJ”,  we wanted to have both a bushwalk and a holiday.

The trip started by preventing another bushwalking club (who were threatening our ownership of grid-squares) from taking the wrong trail and that way saving them from an early adventure. We met the same group five days later at Guthega and learnt that they did get lost after all, in a fog somewhere around Disappointment Spur.

From day 2 on, we didn’t drop below 1500 m of elevation until day 5. We had more clear skies that we could have dreamt about and the views were gorgeous: grasslands with occasional shrubby vegetation spreading from everywhere to everywhere… Streams and rivers crazily meandering down the valley, creating ponds and marshes in some sections but running untamed and free in others… Huge granite boulders scattered all over the place as if thrown around by some giants a long time ago and forgotten to be picked up… And, above all, there were the snow gums. Most of them were burnt but still magnificent in their whiteness and shapes. They looked even prettier with the blue sky (and a polarizing camera filter J). Everywhere we could see, the hills were decorated with their white silhouettes. Although the 2003 bushfire was a disaster, the views it left behind do have a certain magic, at least for me.  And during all that time, I (coming from that crowded place called Europe) couldn’t stop thinking to myself:  “All that space and only for us…”

 Evenings in the bush in autumn are quite long and therefore there was plenty of time for thoughtful and other chats, stories about past ANUMC trips and remarkable ANUMC characters, and even for poetry – “The man from Snowy River” performed by Mika, definitely made an impression and went really well with the fire, fresh mountain air and the sky full of stars.

On day 3, before we climbed Mt. Jagungal, Mika had arranged for the Easter Bilby to come and hide some Easter eggs for us.  It was my first Easter egg hunt ever and it taught me that it can become a real drama trying to find 103 chocolate eggs in a grassy area of 8*8 m. According to Mika we were his most hopeless Easter egg hunters ever (I guess nobody is perfect).

 Our last day added a little bit of adrenaline to our otherwise super-chill-out trip – the visibility was really bad and we spent almost an hour trying to figure out where exactly on a particular mountain we were and which way to start descending to avoid too much scrubbing. To be precise, there were 3 people who spent an hour trying to figure out where we were, the others, including myself, were just following directions. As mentioned earlier, a certain bushwalking club did much poorer – we at least knew which mountain we were on.

The only disappointment for me personally was the lack of sightings of any fauna (only a few birds, one lizard and 3 hares); not even the Easter bandicoot (although Mika said he had sighted him) or wild horses roaming the park and causing damage to soil and vegetation. Maybe next time?

Spending a long weekend in the mountains, having unbelievably good weather and a company of really cool and easy-going people (+Vincenzo) – there is no way you can beat that. Thanks Mika.

 Post and photos by Veronika Vysna


Responses

  1. Really nice photos. What camera do yo use?


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