March has well and truly entered the room and we’ll soon be saying goodbye to Q1 of 2018. And if thinking about the year in terms of financial quarters isn’t already an indication of old age, I don’t know what is. Being a January baby has its pros and cons. Pros being that it’s a super cool first month of the year and I will gladly fight you if you think otherwise. Cons being that it often gets rolled into Christmas, New Years, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day (if you are so inclined), which means there’s nothing to look forward to for the rest of the year.
Around this time last year were some of the lowest points in my life. It’s a weird feeling, a comforting feeling and also one of immense gratitude to be where I am today, interested in the world and excited about what lies ahead. Thus, it seemed only apt to taking living life on a natural high literally and spend my birthday weekend climbing Mt. Kosciuzsko.
I take zero credit for the idea and for the logistics of getting to Thredbo Village, where the said hiking would take place. Messaging Flic on a whim on the hump day preceding my birthday, led to discussions about a day spa or some kind of variation of a treat yo’self in Sydney. But Flic’s raising of the feasibility of us tackling such a grand challenge won out against lazing about expensively in the CBD by a long shot. That same day, we booked our one night accommodation at The River Inn and after my birthday lunch at Moxhe, headed off on our adventure.
Hitting the Sydney to Thredbo road is a six hour-long car ride of which Flic commanded the wheel for the entirety of the drive. It’s been awhile since we’ve caught up so that’s six hours of making for lost time to some 90’s pop background music. The River Inn was as quiet as the village it lived in by the time we got there. A white envelope with my name sat at the concierge desk and held our room key. Two showers later, we were both passed out in bed.
We kicked off around 7 am the next morning, leaving our key where we picked it up. It seems we were going to check-in and check-out without ever meeting the prospectors of this place. It’s cool but not cold, which warranted a thin jumper but not much else. The road often travelled usually involves catching the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift when it opens at 9 am, to take you to Eagles Nest restaurant where you can begin your hike on Ramshead Range to the peak. Then there are your longer trails that involve starting a bit further away at Charlotte Pass (you can also ride up on a mountain bike). We opted to do Merritts Nature Track which sits in between in terms of difficulty. This allowed us to climb a challenging and incredibly steep sections to the restaurant checkpoint (because who has time and money to waste on a ski lift up?) and then take to the trail from there.
I have done a bit of bushwalking in the past, some in the Blue Mountains locale and pretty much everything that’s easily accessible from the CBD. I’ve never actually hiked up a mountain. One could argue that it’s not a lot different, when it’s all just putting one foot in front of the other for hours on end. But one would be wrong.
The irony of hiking is being out of breath at the top of the latest incline, only for it to be taken away again by the view you are afforded.
Hiking is also hungry business but don’t be a rookie like me, who tried to eat a granola bar (fuelled by gas station convenience stores) while going up. Your body can only multi-task so much, breathing should take priority and shovelling things down your throat prevents that. Or maybe there is some kind of art to it? Veteran mountain folk, feel free to enlighten me!
Trees disappear from the restaurant level onwards which makes the scenery less pretty and also leaves you very much susceptible to the wind. The ski lift is in operation by the time we reach this point so we started to see a lot more people on the trail. The difficulty that the wind posed makes it hard for any one group to overtake another. From a distance, we all look like nomads moving with the intention of paying pilgrimage to a sacred site.
There are a couple of points of interest, such as the Lake Cootapatamba lookout. There is also Rawson Pass where the old Kosciuszko Road from Charlotte Pass meets ours and is also where the highest public bathroom in Australia is located. Some of the people we see are on mountain bikes and some are dressed in their Sunday best, sandals included. But aside from the above, it’s a lot of grass, stones and stairs.
The last leg had us powering through like we were listening to ‘I’ll Make A Man Out of You’ from Mulan, with a strong emphasis on ‘-with the force of a great typhoon’. That wind seriously. My sole Sherpa-esque friend once told me a personal anecdote about the euphoria of biting into an orange at the end of a long weekend of beating your body up and down a mountain. Reaching the top of Mt Kosciuzsko, I was mixed with feelings of elation but also a strong desire for fruit.
Mt. Kosciuszko is the highest peak on the Australian continent, standing at a mighty 2228m above sea level. The act of hiking was challenging in parts but not terribly difficult. The significance of hiking on that particular weekend with one of my closest friends is one I will treasure forever. Some people spend their birthday weekend having an evening of fun and a day of nursing a hangover. I guess I’m into a different kind of pain, one that starts at your butt and creeps down your thighs and calves, leaving your legs like jelly for the weekdays ahead. Thanks Flic for the drive, the good banter and a healthy dose of the great outdoors. It’s never lonely at the top when you’ve got someone as driven and even more incredible by your side.