Friday, October 31, 2014

Wandering In Wonderland And Lost On Abrupt

Two of our good friends from Nelson, BC, arrived in Australia in spring for a cycle tour and we were SO excited to be able to spend a little time with them. After arriving in Melbourne, they cycled west along coast roads and then north up to Dunkeld where we met them late one afternoon. We had a couple of days to spend with them walking in the Grampians before they continued cycling east to Wangaretta and eventually on to Tasmania. 

Our first hike was up Mount Abrupt, which should take an hour or two return, but which we managed to spread over quite a few hours as 3/4 of the party managed to get lost! Floods in 2010 washed out much of the track and it has been rerouted slightly south of the original location. A good track switchbacks up under the cliffs of Mount Abrupt and we were strolling along chatting when we came to a very prominent switchback marked with three yellow arrows. I took the switchback to the south and shortly thereafter arrived on the ridge north of Mount Abrupt where I stopped in the sun to wait for the other three, who never came. 
 R and M on top of Mount Abrupt
After waiting five minutes, in some perplexity, I jogged back down the track to the prominent switch and walked a short distance north under an overhanging cave before thinking "this is so overgrown and obviously not a track they would not come this way." I turned back, walked a short distance back up the main track, rethought the whole affair, came back to the switchback and jogged along a faint trail into a saddle south of Signal Peak hollering at the top of my voice. The faint track branched somewhere in the saddle and I decided to turn back yet again in case by some remarkable feat of levitation or translocation, Doug, Roland and Murielle had actually passed by me on the main track. 

Yellow arrows might be hard to miss
Back on the ridge, there was still no sign of anyone so I decided to hike up Mount Abrupt thinking that, at some point, all three would realise something had gone wrong and would turn back. I topped out on Mount Abrupt, but did not stay long as it was windy, cold, and I was still wondering where everyone was. Hiking back along the track I ran through various possible search methods in my mind, but, luckily, did not have to initiate any as a short distance above the spot where I had initially waited I came upon a much chagrined Roland and Murielle. Doug, apparently, had sprinted down to the vehicle to see if I was there, but, technology allowed us to call his mobile telephone and he quickly turned around and came back meeting us on the summit just 40 minutes after leaving the vehicle. There was much consternation about how three people had missed three big yellow signs. 

View from The Pinnacle

Next day, Doug planned a circuit walk that would take us through the popular Wonderland Range. The track out of the Wonderland parking lot is pretty jammed with walkers but travels up an interesting little rock canyon, grandiloquently called "Grand Canyon" to a narrower slot canyon (Silent Street) and soon out onto the rock shelves of The Pinnacle. There is a fenced lookout on The Pinnacle and you can look out to the flat land to the east as well as north and south along the range. We continued south past the Garden of the Grampians to a management tracked. We took the management track down steeply to an old "closed" track (supposedly for flood damage although there is none evident). Half a kilometre of bushy track led to Turret Falls, a thin stream of water over a short cliff, where we rejoined a good (open) track that led quickly back to the Wonderland parking lot.

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