Written by Lucie
While the rest of the gang lived the dream with copious hot cross buns in a house in Mansfield Mark and Lucie went for an Easter 2015 hike in the nearby Alpine region.
Starting at Sheepyard Flat on Howqua River we hiked up Eight Mile Spur to Eight Mile Gap.
The first section was a pleasant track through the bush uphill. As we climbed the track became more and more overgrown. After a while we found ourselves bush bashing, still climbing uphill (fairly steeply). It was also really hot. We found a shady spot and stopped for lunch. After lunch we continued our uphill bush bashing slog and then, eventually, the ground started to level off and we reached the top sweaty, scratched and tired. The views were worth it though, we could see right across the river valley and up to Mount Buller.
We found a new track and walked through the bush along the flatter land as the new track started to fade. We reached a clearing in the trees with no visible tracks. After consulting the map, compass and wandering around slightly lost for a short space of time we dropped down and found the road dirt that we needed to follow for a short way.
We reached the track that would lead us up to The Bluff, which we were planning to take. However, we didn’t know if there was going to be water at our campsite and there were no water sources over The Bluff. Looking at the map again we saw that the dirt road crossed several creeks and decided that we should take the path with more water opportunities.
After walking along for a short way we crossed a creek with water and Lucie climbed down to find a point where the water was running at a decent speed. She found a mini waterfall in a little pocket of rocks and filled up all of our water bottles. Meanwhile Mark had a chat to a nice man who was ferrying some friends around the mountain.
Once we were filled up with water we got back on the track and walked towards Bluff Hut. The other creeks we crossed were all dry so we were very happy that we had filled up when we did. As we walked the road climbed steadily uphill and seemed to just keep on going. As the sun set we thought we must be nearly at the hut but around each corner our path just kept on going onwards and upwards. on the plus side there was a gorgeous sunset and a spectacular moon.
Eventually we made it to Bluff Hut, set up our tent and then went into the hut to cook dinner out of the chill. Inside were a nice family who had a fire going. We had a chat whilst cooking and eating, played a few hands of cards and then decided to turn in. The stars were beautiful.
We started our second day by going up onto The Bluff that we had missed out on the day before. It was a very foggy morning (or perhaps we were just in the cloud) and so visibility was very limited. It was like we were back in the winter wonderland from our ANZAC AAWT hike). Even though we could see far it was still beautiful. We found places where the path would drop off to the side and all you could see was cloud. On the way back it had cleared in places and we could see how far down the cliff face went. The cloud moved, sometimes it would start to open up and you could see sun touched trees in the distance, and then in the same breath the clouds would close back in.
As we dropped back down to Bluff Hut the sun broke through and it became another warm, sunny day. We met a Meetup group of hikers and had lunch with them, then we picked up our packs and started on down 16 Mile Spur towards the river. In contrast to the day before, this path was very steep downhill the whole time – sometimes it was really hard going!
Eventually we reached the river and path undulated until we reached Pikes Flat. We set up our tent, went for a wash in the river and then relaxed: played a few hands of cards, cooked dinner, played a few more games, gazed at the stars and went to bed.
Our third day was relatively easy as we were following the river. The path was up and down, very narrow in places, sometimes exposed to the sun with great views down the river and sometimes through trees. We passed Richies Hut which is a great spot for camping – there’s a decent sized area of flat grass, a nice hut, it’s on the river and you can only reach it by hiking so it’s very quiet.
We continued our path out to Sheepyard Flat and then a little further to where we had agreed to be picked up at the end of our hike.
Total Ascending: ~1800m
Total Descending: ~1800m
Total Distance: 41km
We can’t find any of our own photos so the picture of Mount Buller and the snow gums are both borrowed with thanks from Mick Stanic under Creative Commons licenses.