An easy start to the day. Up at 7 to discover the remains of a light overnight frost. Clear skies and to wind to speak of. Perfect day for a 4.4km climb to the summit of Mt Difficult. Packed some snacks, tidied the camp and set off with my Camelbak full of water. A short distance from the start of the walk I encountered a sign saying – “Strenuous Walking Involved”.
The assent zig-zagged up the sandstone tiers, working its way steadily up through some spectacular rock formations with the view to the west slowly revealing itself.
Paused at the half way point where a small stream cascaded down from the plateaux and plunged over a cliff to the valley below. The headwaters of Trooper Creek no doubt.
In places the track required some scrambling up steep rock faces and through narrow clefts in the cliff. As I'd started the walk relatively early and was climbing the western approach, a lot of the route was in shade which reduced the effort required to climb the 600 plus metres from the camp site to the summit at 807 metres. All in all a most enjoyable climb!
The views from the summit were superb and in all directions. Being at the northerly end of the Grampians allowed fro a view down the entire range to the south. Another advantage of being so high with unobstructed views in all directions was that I was able to get a mobile signal. This allowed me to touch base with family and with Jon who will meet me tomorrow in Horsham. We will ride back down to the coast together and then round the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. The end is in sight!
The descent was quicker but in many ways more difficult. I was conscious of being by myself – not having seen another person since leaving camp – and aware of how easy it would be on a steep descent like this to end up with a twisted ankle or worse. It was only when I reached the halfway point at the waterfall that I encountered a couple making the ascent. I paused again to finish my snacks, cool my feet off in the stream and admire the views, the rock formations, the wild flowers and the sheer majesty of my surroundings.
As soon as I made it to the bottom, on went the stove and the espresso pot was loaded and I enjoyed a well earned cup of coffee.
Tonight the camp site is deserted, only the late arrival of a couple in a pop-up caravan has interrupted my solitude. The fire is lit, the billy is boiling for a cup of tea and the moon has just risen over Mt Difficult. Perfect!