The early morning call interrupted lurid dreams so bright they were my reality and despite the paucity of sleep I was glad to be awake. Four hours sleep was not enough and I could have easily rolled back into the borrowed bed. But we have seven hours of walking ahead of us on a loop near Mt Somers which will be a helpful warm up for the week to come. It is proves to be a walk down memory lane. How much is imprinted on our minds when we are young? More than two thirds of my life has been spent away from here yet lichens and trees, rocks and tussock, snow grass and birds, streams and insects, flowers and peat are all instantly familiar and, though I have never been on this particular track I walk with the conviction that from its edges I have never departed.
Despite the familiarity I have forgotten the predilection of these people to pull over beside running streams and setting up camp for a holiday and I am mildly surprised at how many are camped at the head of the track. The remote and gravel carpark is home to a handful of weekend gypsies making the most of the weather and the holidays. And why not? The water gushes past clear and cold while a gentle breeze carries the warm scent of the bush down the gully. They sit quietly and watch us unpack, kings and queens of their own patch of green turf, surrounded by droning bumblebees and ignoring the sounds of their out of sight children playing in the river somewhere. For a moment I fancy that I could stay here myself, and be forgotten by the rest of the world.
We depart, crossing waters so clear they make gin look muddy, and climb up into the heat of the day. We leave a handful of families unpacking and getting ready to walk the other way. We encounter them hours later on this loop, at Woolshed Creek Hut, along with other families and kids who have made their way in here to spend a few days away from civilization. Mind you this hut is very civilized and well appointed. They are all onto a good thing.
We have gotten there the hardest way, via high schist and tussock country, down through stone lined gorges and across more clear running streams. As we make our way I keep an eye out for orcs – it’s just that sort of country and I can easily imagine them appearing across any ridge in front of us or from out of the steep and close gullies we scramble through. With far less imagination I find I can’t shake my own Australian inclination to be watching where I put my feet least there be snakes – even though none exist in Middle Earth. We take our lunch at Woolshed Creek Hut say hello to the three couples who have made it their temporary home, and chat with the part time ‘ranger’ who is keeping an eye on things (and getting a break from her grandkids) before we climb out, up and over, past an abandoned coal mine site and down to the carpark. The same royal families remain silent and watch us from their reclining, half sunken canvas thrones as we cool off in the water, climb into our overheated vehicle and depart in a cloud of dust.
Diary 19 January 2014