Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weekend Run: Mt Bogong, Highest Peak in Victoria

Sunday, 8th June 2014.
Queen's Birthday weekend.

Four hours later ...

"YAY! Finally!!" I sighed with relief.

After what felt like forever, we were finally out on top in the open, eager to check out the stunning view.

Are we there yet?
We had just reached the end of Eskdale Spur. 

We looked around, squinting through the fog in attempt to admire the curves of the horizon. It was impossible to snap a decent picture of the view!

As the fog crept nearer, I wondered whether we had made the right decision for this weekend's excursion. Especially when there was no one in sight!

Probably because everyone would take Staircase Spur up to the summit instead of Eskdale Spur ...

We quickly hurried off into the fog, hoping that the summit wasn't too far away. 

Outrunning a fog was not easy, especially on a rocky track. Visibility was bad, but we could see the snow poles poking out of the fog and using that as our guide, we made our way towards one pole at a time.

It was the howling winds that freaked me out. They howled like crazy, as if asking us to get off the mountain,  what were we doing there, Mt Bogong belonged to them, and only them.

Occasionally we'd stop behind a rock (like the one on the left above) and waited for the winds to die down a while, before we continued on. I was secretly terrified of being blown off the mountain!

When it was quiet, it was tranquility at its best.

"Ooh, people!" 

The hubs pointed out.

"Oh thank goodness we aren't the only crazy ones out here!" I remarked.

The summit was nowhere in sight, but we kept moving as quickly as possibly, turning around every now and then to see if the fog had lifted up for us to admire the view that Mt Bogong was known for.

No such luck, which was a good thing, I suppose.
Otherwise we would have lingered for too long.

Soon, we noticed the change around us. There was ice on the ground!

I was hoping for a bit of snow, actually, but no such luck.

Ice on one of the snow poles.

Icy fringes and my pointy finger.

The wind started to pick up again and the fog returned to envelope us. Was that a blizzard or a hail, I wondered, as we were hit by confetti snow, though I think it was probably a little rain.

The hubs turned to me and said that we had to keep on moving and must not stop for whatever reason. Keep your hands in your pocket, he ordered.

I nodded, wishing there was shelter ahead but I knew from the information I had gathered prior to our trip, there was none.

I could be in Narnia for all I know, I mused, as the winds blew fiercely.

Winter Wonderland or Narnia?

With heads down low, hands in our pockets, we trudged on and against the howling wind, our eyes following our Salomon-clad feet. I'd look up occasionally, just to take a peek, in case there was something picture-worthy.

I did one of the silliest things then.

I took off one of my gloves just so I could snap a picture with my phone.

Anything for a mobile upload.

I could have had frostbite!

My fingers went numb as I clicked my phone, and I struggled to put my thin gloves back on again. It was already bad enough that I only brought a thin* pair of gloves with me, let alone take my gloves off just for a picture!

*left the thicker pair in the hotel.

Brrr ...

We bumped into a hiker making his way down, who told us that we were not far from the summit.

A bearer of good news, thank goodness!

We moved as quickly as we could, eager to get to the summit, stake our claim on it, and get out of the miserable fog once and for all.

A cairn marks the summit and that was it. After a quick (not really) photo session, we decided to head back down via Staircase Spur, but we were rather out of sorts. Total blurcase(s).

Staring at our maps*, which weren't properly marked out, we weren't sure where Staircase Spur was. We didn't see the sign anywhere when we made our way up (to the summit)!

*the maps I had were from a blog, saved in my phone. the real map was in the hotel. yeah, silly us!!

So he went off to try and find the track and told me to stay put. With the wind blowing, I took whatever shelter the cairn could give me and watch him disappear into the fog.

But funny how things work.

The skies soon began to clear not long after he left. I was hoping he'd turn back immediately, because I had a strong suspicion he had gone the wrong way.

But I wasn't (and didn't!) going to run off and chase him haha!

Obligatory selfie while I waited for my hero's return.

The skies were so blue!

Worst case scenario, we would take Eskdale Spur again.

That was the direction where we and everyone came from.

And there were other people coming!

We are sssssssaved!

Two groups arrived and take photos. A lady took out her long pants to put them on. A younger lady remarked that I was brave to show my bare legs in the crazy weather. Which made me wonder whether I should put on my waterproof pants, too.

They had come from Staircase Spur, and I asked where it was. Apparently it was just beyond the crest (as she pointed towards the direction they had come from) and a left turn. The younger lady told me that the track was obvious with snow poles marking the way.

Now that the skies were clear, it was easy to spot the track, but you wouldn't have noticed it in the fog. Dang!

The group must have thought we were clueless (quite), having to 'lose' our way so easily. (It doesn't make sense now, but you'll have to read on and I'll reveal it later.)

They might have sniggered behind our backs, "Check out those loonies in tights! In this weather!" *snigger snigger*

Who knows? :)

When my hero *cough cough* returned, I told him where Staircase Spur was. Not wanting to be caught in the crazy winds again, we headed off.

We found the junction, which wasn't noticeable at all, unless you knew where you were going!

The tiny sign above a snow pole laughed at us for missing it in the first place. Hmmfh!

One of the guys had told me that I would enjoy scrambling down Staircase Spur and he was right. However, I kept stopping every 2 minutes just to admire the view.

Damn our timing!

If we had arrived at the same time as they did, we would have had a brilliant view of our surroundings.

Check out those curves ...

Icy patch on the track!

It was that moment we were waiting for - of blue skies, of greenery, of solitude (kinda), serenity and tranquility, why trailrunning (and hiking) pays off and makes the crazy adventures worth while. :)

Loved it.

If we had come up via Staircase Spur, the ascent would have been slightly steeper than Eskdale Spur and I bet I would have grumbled all the way.

You'd feel exhausted just looking at how far you'd have to climb to get to the summit!

On our way down, we met a lot of hikers and a runner couple on their way up. Some were dressed warmly and some were dressed like it was summer.

A hungry me.

The views were often obscured as we descended so there wasn't much of a reason to stop and take photos. I did read somewhere that if you were to descend via Eskdale Spur, the view was better.

When the track was more runnable, the hubs disappeared like the wind and left me alone to go at my own donkey slow and steady pace. As much as I wish I could tackle the trails like Emelie, Anna or Kilian or my faster friends, I am no speed demon. (I can't explain. Probably for fear of twisting my delicate ankles? Hehe. But if I were still in my teens, I'd be running down and showing off how fast I can go!)

At the end of the track, we stood and stared at the sign that had eluded us all along.

6KM to the summit!

How could we have missed it??

We took the scenic route back to the car park, through Tree Fern Walk.

Decided to take another route instead of getting my feet wet!

We opted for the shorter route which took a while anyway, since we stopped to take a few photos.

I wanted an artistic pic but my photographer said my choice of location was crap.

Simple scenery which made me miss my macro lens.

We came out from where the vehicle was parked.
Now, if you have climbed up Mt Bogong, you would be puzzled with my story, how was I to miss the Staircase Spur junction or how did I miss the track in the first place and ended up going up via Eskdale Spur.

I confess that my map reading skills were poor and I failed to study it carefully, although I thought that I had studied it sufficiently well.

Image source

At the beginning ...

The plan was to take Mountain Creek road - Staircase Spur - Mt Bogong Summit - Eskdale Spur - Mountain Creek road. Information stated that the tracks started from Mountain Creek picnic area, and that Staircase Spur was 2km away from the car park.

We arrived at 7am and it was still a bit dark. We got our packs out of the car and move out as quietly as possible, as there were campers around. We didn't want to wake them up.

We headed onto a track and kept an eye on our GPS watches. 2KM went by and Staircase Spur was nowhere in sight. Perhaps it was further in, we thought, and continued on the 4WD road.

The mountain was on our right, so we knew we were heading the right direction. Yet we were puzzled as to why the mountain was quite a distance away.

Bogong, why are you there and I am here?

It was frustrating not to be able to get a reception on my phone, as I wanted to check the map online whether we had gone the wrong way so we could turn back.

When I finally located our position on the map, the colour drained on my face. I was right! We were soooooo far away from our destination!

The hubs, unfortunately, had gone far ahead (and left me behind) so I couldn't run fast enough (and uphill, too) to tell him the horrific news. I tried blowing my whistle (weakly) but it was for naught.

Yep, he's always far ahead.

By the time I had caught up with him, we were at a crossroad. We saw the road signs, so we weren't  far from the right track!

We thought we had taken Mountain Creek road, but instead we had taken Trappers Gap road in the State Forest, hence the reason why Mt Bogong looked (and was) far from us. Anyway, we turned right onto a path parallel to Camp Creek Gap road thinking it was an unmarked part of Eskdale Spur!

So near, and yet so far!

The boogey wabbit watched us getting lost.

After that little detour, we found ourselves back on Camp Creek Gap road. We looked around for Eskdale Spur track, not believing for a second that we were not going to find it this time.

 It was well hidden among the foliage, almost as if it was rarely taken.

I needed more food, to be honest.

It was good to know that it was only 4km to the summit, which turned out to be longer than that.

With alpine trees to greet us, we knew that we were reaching the top very soon.

We couldn't wait to see the view!

The view behind wasn't too bad, either.

Mitchell Hut.

Well, that was the beginning you missed. 

What we had done from the picnic ground was to take Trappers Gap Road - Camp Creek Road - Eskdale Spur - Mt Bogong Summit - Staircase Spur - Tree Fern Walk - picnic ground.

While traipsing around quietly in the dark, we didn't see the track inside the car park area. That was Mountain Creek road.


The hubs has banned me from being the race director for our future excursions. I don't blame him, but I had a good laugh! I said he should have checked my work. :D

Nevertheless, it took us 8 hours which wasn't too shabby, especially when we covered an additional 8-9km, which was double our intended distance.

We're so glad that no one else had joined us on this trip and relied upon us to lead the way, or else they would have been grumpy queens and grumbled all the way!

Putting all of that aside, we had fun, anyway. At the end of the day, I laughed so hard! :)

We should have taken Mountain Creek road which goes along the river, which marks the border of
State Forest and Alpine National Park.

We were sensible enough to pack our mandatory gears (gloves, jacket, pants, food, first aid kit, beanie, headlamps, etc) and they were put to good use. Except that we should have brought the actual map instead of leaving it in our motel!

Mt Bogong is the highest peak in Victoria at 1986m high. 'Bogong' means 'big fella' in Aboriginal language. It is one of the places to ski during winter.

One of the trail events held at Mt Bogong is the Bogong 2 Hotham challenge, where participants need to traverse 64km in 12hours.

Possibly related posts:
Melbourne Eats: Eating Out in Mt Beauty


  1. Yeah, listen to him, you should give up being race director. Reminds me of the time we got lost in Batu Dam ... hahaha!

    But the scenery looks splendid la! The things only a Sky Runner gets to enjoy ....

    1. Whatttt ... JP made the call to turn back during the Batu Dam excursion la, not me! hahaha

      you can hike it when you're here! the best sights are outside of Melbourne. :)