AAWT Stage 13 (trip 10) – Cowombat Flat Carpark to Deadhorse Gap
More than one year later and from the other side of the earth, I am finally writing a post for hike that Julia and I (aka Team Fun & Appreciation) did from Cowombat Flat to Deadhorse Gap as part of the 2014 AAWT Challenge. That Challenge has since been successfully completed and my certificate issued under the condition that I write this post or risk revocation of said certificate. Since I’ll soon be back in Australia for a visit, and I’m rather attached to my certificate now, I decided it’s time this post got written. I’ve had to rely heavily on my photos to jog my memory…
So the first photo I have is of a map.
Team Fun & Appreciation, I think it’s fair to say, comprises some of the less experienced trekkers in the AAWT Challenge group. So before setting off we were happy to get some guidance from the more experienced Adventure Gangers who took us through the route on a map so we knew which turns to take and which not to. Map sprawled out, photos for record, I think Julia might have even partook in some yellow highlighting activity, Team Fun & Appreciation were ready to set out on their own. First just to figure out how to drive Jon’s four-wheeled drive…
After a short drive of about 20 minutes (I think. I may have made that up considering it was a year ago) we found the beginning of the trail. Success #1.
From the start point I have no photos until we reached camp our first camp. But I remember very clearly why that was! The hike started off well. We had our first brumby spotting. A little black one not far from the track. The young ones were always easier to spot, not yet having learned to be fearful enough to stay away from people. We later saw some more, including a champagne coloured one, which for memory were the ones Julia liked best. We were hiking for some time and were not sure that we were on the right path. The bush was high and thick so it was hard to tell where we might possibly be by reading the contour lines on our map (something else we were not particularly excellent in). I remember climbing quite steeply for some time and then it started to rain. But the rain wouldn’t stop. It must have gone on for a good few hours. And we had to break for lunch in the middle of it all. We were wet and cold and stopping for food wasn’t going to make us any wetter but it was going to fill our stomachs. So it was a good decision. Hurriedly pulling out wrap ingredients and trying to cut cheese and tomatoes standing up in the rain, then stuffing said hurriedly made wraps into our mouths before it got too soggy, we set off again only about 5 minutes after stopping. It was still raining, and we were still not really sure we were on the right track. Also, not a great time to learn that my (fairly expensive) Macpac rainjacket had decided that it no longer wanted to repel water. It had worked fairly well at the Iguazu falls the previous year but this time I could feel water on my shoulders and falling down my spine into the top of my pants.
Insert more rain and hiking.
Then all of a sudden after a fair bit of climbing we came to a clearing. This looked rather like what the guide book described, and yes it had the remains of a plane crash too – this must be it! Almost like it was planned, the rain stopped and we revelled in the fact that we had reached our destination AND it was no longer raining. Our first impressions of camp when we arrived around 2pm looked something like this.
And here’s the plane crash remains which cemented for us that we’d found the (right) camp!
We explored, barefoot, the green pastures, crossed the river that divided Victoria from New South Wales, back and forth (it didn’t get old), pranced around the squishy green grass, all the while trying to avoid stepping on horse poo (there was plenty of it), balanced across fallen tree trunks and lay down soaking in the beautiful expanse before us.
Here’s a picture of Julia with one foot in Victoria (the left) and the other in NSW.
And some of our tree trunk balancing.
With the rain stopping and the sun clearing, it was a pretty nice spot to spend the rest of the afternoon.
Here’s Team Fun & Appreciation with a nice cup of tea and all nice and dry at our camp site.
And our make-shift clothes line to dry out our wet gear.
Day 2: Pilot Creek Trail
Happy to wake up to a sunny, rain free day, we set off in good spirits. Challenge 1 of the day was taking the right turn at the T-junction – it was the Pilot Creek trail and not the continuation of Cowombat Flat track as marked on the map that we need. Success #2 (if you don’t count the make-shift clothes line as a success, which it was, until it fell over on itself).
Someone clearly had some fun with this sign:
The next part of the trail was not particularly memorable. I recall climbing very steeply for some time until we hit a sign saying ‘Snowgums’ at which we make a sharp turn right. I think we stopped for a water and snack break at the top of our upward slog. There were a lot of fallen and burned trees, some twisted white ones standing. Still, they had their own beauty.
Not too long after our snack break, we hit a pretty nice look out and decided it was time to properly break for lunch. No standing soggy wrap eating-under-the-rain this time.
Onward and we descend into a really lush opening, where there used to be an old miners hut (I think, Julia correct me if not!) And more brumbies! This time caught on camera:
Some walking and admiring of beautiful views and overhanging crazy white trees, we turned a corner to find Caroline and Mark heading toward us! We stop for lunch and then make our way toward camp. There’s a clever little hidden turn off. Which Caroline and Mark had already seen on their way to find us. And just as well that they had because there is no way I would have seen it from the path coming from the direction we were travelling. Camp really was very nice. It had a wooden seat and even a hut, but we decide to sleep outdoors because of the likelihood of spiders in the hut.
As for the rest I’ll leave you to refer to Caroline’s post which was written much closer to the date and therefore is probably a much more accurate account of what I would have written here. I will however add a few more pictures so you can see what a gorgeous afternoon and next day it was as the four of us hiked to Dead Horse Gap.
Total Ascending (TA): 1405m
Total Descending (TD): 1020m
Total Distance of AAWT completed (TKM): 41.5km
AAWT Points: ((TA+TD)/1000)*(TKM/10) = 10.06 points