Mount McLeod Overnight Walk, December 5-6

There were six participants for this 16km high country adventure, and we were blessed with near perfect weather conditions – fine, high 20’s (35+ in the Valleys), dry with light breeze in places.

Some miscommunication about meeting time/points led to a delayed departure, and we didn’t get underway until nearly mid-day, but there were no worries as we had all afternoon for an 8km walk into the campground at Mount McLeod.

The early summer wildflowers were a real treat, with trigger flowers, everlastings, vanilla lilies, showy parrot pea, pink bells, native violets, cut-leaf goodenia and many more.

Opportunities to put the packs down were welcomed, firstly clambering over a large log across the Link Track (alternative foot track section from the 4WD vehicle access track), lunch, and then taking a break for someone to return to the lunch stop for their glasses. mount-macleod-dec-2015 (3)

Packs were getting heavy however, by the time we met up with the day-trippers heading back after their visit to Mount McLeod. Luckily, it was not much further to the open grass plain that provided the campsite, under the peak.

We set up our respective tents, and renewed our energies with a cup of tea and refreshments, entertained by the emergence of camp furniture to make sure Michael and Jeanette didn’t lack too many home comforts. We’d love to see what they didn’t bring – perhaps the table might come along next time?

A one kilometre climb to the top of Mount McLeod provided rewarding views across the southern Alps, with Mount Bogong standing proud on the skyline. I was pleased to be able to pick out the Murmungee escarpment in the East, and a fresh perspective on the major features of Mount Buffalo from this angle.

A lovely evening at the campsite was marred by the millions of mosquitos, which encouraged us to an early night, the sooner to bring the dawn. Cecily and Jan rose with the birds to watch the sunrise over the valley before breakfast and re-loading the packs. Some of us had discovered a small waterfall and a hidden clearing and pond by exploring off the path by the little water hole, and we felt we had made a new connection to the mountain by the time we headed back up the path in the freshness of the early morning. mount-macleod-dec-2015 (5)

The return walk to the carpark didn’t appear as long as the walk in, taking three hours including stops along the way. After deliberation, we again took the Link Track which was just a little shorter and less steep than the road, and provided a little more excitement as Trevor (in the lead) stepped past a black (or tiger?) snake sleeping in the leaf litter beside the path.

We were just a little weary and glad to see the cars; it didn’t take much to decide we had earned a coffee and cake at the Gorge before we returned back to Wangaratta –it was nearly lunchtime after all.

It was unanimous that this was an excellent overnight hike, providing an opportunity to test the pack and gear without over-stretching the distance or climbing capacity of the legs. (Jan Heywood deserves an award for walking with the lightest pack, bringing a favourite old H-frame from the 70’s for an outing). A very happy weekend activity for those who participated. Thanks all. Cecily

The walk was graded as moderate, and the list of hazards includes mosquitos, flies and ants. Later in summer there may not be running water which would add to the difficulty –as it was, carrying 2.5-3 litres was plenty as water from the stream could be boiled for hot drinks and dinner.

Other comments (including suggestions for future): Ask for’ Expressions of Interest’ three-four weeks prior to the walk, so that campsites can be booked (maximum of 5 camps, 10 people). This would give some indication of numbers, and confidence that campsites are available.

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