Alpine Getaway

When you love mountains and it’s your birthday where do you head for a 4-day long weekend? To the Victorian Alps!

On Friday 10 May I finished work early and headed home to pack and ready for our road trip south. Over the weekend away Roger wanted to hit some big mountains as good training for his Hardrock Hundred race in July, and I wanted to do some hiking and breath in the fresh country air away from the big smoke. We hit the road around midday to beat the Friday traffic and took turns driving to share the long journey (with a stop for snacks and a toilet break along the way). When we were about an hour from our Air BnB in Mt Beauty we ordered some Takeaway pizzas from a place called Stockpot. The pizzas were delicious!

On Saturday we were both up early and I drove Roger to the Campground at the start of he trail to Mt Bogong, he planned to do a few repeats while I was heading back into town for the local Parkrun. The morning sky was covered in fog and visibility was low, so low in fact that you could not see the top of Mount Bogong from afar, nor the pond that we ran around for the Parkrun course. It was a beautiful Autumn day and the colours of the leaves on the tree outside our Air BnB made for a beautiful photo.

I arrived at Mount Beauty Parkrun about 10 minutes before the start, just enough time to make a toilet stop and chat to a few of the locals before we got started. I was 24 weeks pregnant so toilet stops had become quite regular and I was unsure how much actual running I would be able to do. My plan was to start running and go until it felt uncomfortable, or until I just couldn’t run any longer.

There were 14 people at the start line and 2 of those were kids. It was a really friendly bunch, and aside from myself (from Sydney) there were just 2 other runners who weren’t local and they were from Melbourne city. We set off running when the organiser yelled “Go!” and I reminded myself not to push too hard and just try to maintain a steady pace the whole way. I overtook a mum and her child who were going a little slower than I felt I could manage, and after about a minute I sat in behind a gentleman in a yellow shirt who seemed to be going about the same pace. I felt like I was pushing myself a little but felt it was manageable.

I looked around to try and take in some of the view but there wasn’t much to see with all the fog. My legs felt really good and my bump didn’t feel uncomfortable so I kept running and stuck with the guy who was about 50m ahead of me. At the turnaround point I had closed the gap on the yellow shirt guy and he seemed to slow down a little, I used this as my opportunity to get closer to him and thought I could possibly overtake him. I passed him at about the 3.5km point and he seemed to be breathing quite heavy and starting to struggle. I tried to keep my pace consistent as I passed him and when I looked down at my watch I realised I had been sitting on 5min/km, a pace I didn’t think I’d be able to run in my condition. I felt a little out of breath but great otherwise, so I kept up the pace and kept my focus ahead towards the finish. I could hear somebody behind me starting to gain, and all of a sudden the child I had passed earlier overtook me. He was making it look easy, so I cheered him on as he kept moving way ahead of me.

Eventually I could hear the Netball players who were on the courts near the start/finish area, and in no time at all I was crossing the line to the cheers of the local volunteers and other runners who had finished ahead of me. I realised I was the first female to finish (out of 4, ha ha) and found out later I finished 7th overall. I was surprised with how well I ran but very happy. I chatted to a friendly lady from Bright and she recommended some great trails and some great local eating spots for us to try during our stay. After cheering everyone over the line and thanking the volunteers I headed home for a nice warm shower and planned to head back to the Bakery for breakfast.

After showering, breakfast and a nap, I got in the car and decided to head south towards Falls Creek. The fog had lifted and along the way I could see Mt Bogong in the distance, so as soon as the road widened and I had a chance to stop the car and park for a photo I took it.

I saw a sign for Fainter Falls and thought this might be a nice short walk, so I parked the car and headed for the trail. It was only about a 700m walk to view the falls, but it was all uphill on the way there. My legs felt good and I had decided to wear the new Hoka One One ‘Sky Kaha’ boots I’d gotten for my birthday and they were super comfortable.

After some time at the falls and a short walk back downhill I got to the car and headed back the way I came, as we had planned for me to pick up Roger from the Campground after his tough day of training. The sun was setting as I got there and he was putting on some warm layers while waiting for me. I drove back to the Air BnB and made some spaghetti for a nice warm, carb-loading dinner. Tomorrow would be a big day of hiking for both of us.

On Sunday (my birthday) we got up and prepared ourselves for a hike up Mount Bogong, Victoria’s highest peak at 1,986m above sea level. The base to summit has you climbing about 1,600m which makes it great training for Roger and hard work for both of us, but we were planning to take it easier than usual due to my bump.

We arrived at the Campground which had a few tents pitched, parked the car and put our layers on to stay warm. There was about 3km of fire trail which takes you to the start of the trail, and after some stairs it’s just a long slow climb all the way up to the peak.

I had brought my poles to help me with stability and to ease the load from my legs a little, especially now that I weighed a little more than usual and my centre of gravity had changed (both of which can make you a bit unsteady at times). I noticed I was getting out of breath more than normal but this was the new normal for me, I just kept going at a steady state as we chatted and hiked.

Eventually we got to Bivouac Hut and there was also a toilet here which I had been desperately waiting to use for most of the upward hike. So I visited the ladies and then we took rest in the hut while having some food and drink, but we didn’t stay too long as our bodies were getting cold fast. We added some thermal layers and made our way along the trail towards the peak.

The fog was really thick and you could not see the peak of Bogong until we were right up on it, it felt like we had risen above the clouds. There was nobody around for miles and as we hiked up to the top we had snowball fights and mucked around trying to keep warm. It was such a beautiful day, a birthday to remember forever.

We started to get cold and decided we should start the hike back down the mountain, so we followed the trail and headed back into the mist and clouds. My legs were feeling pretty good but I was a lot more cautious than usual because I was more afraid of falling over with precious cargo onboard. The poles helped a lot to keep me balanced and we hiked non-stop all the way to the bottom.

The mist had lifted by the time we got down to the start of the trail and I had removed a few layers as I felt much warmer too. Roger was going to head back up the mountain for another repeat which would be good training for his upcoming race (and probably a lot quicker than when I was with him, ha ha) and I headed back along the fire trail to the car. Once I was at the car I headed to our BnB to have shower and get warm, then headed back to the campground to get Roger at our agreed time. I had a nap in the car while I waited for Roger and soon enough his headlamp came bounding down the trail. What a legend, I was pooped and he had just done double!

Back at the house we got ready and headed to dinner at Roi’s in Tawonga, they do such a good feed and we always visit when we are in town. We cannot recommend them highly enough! After some huge meals and chatting with the owner we hit the road and were crashed in our bed exhausted and asleep within a few minutes.

Tired feet, quiet mind.

On Monday we got up early and I drove Roger to Porepunkah, a small suburb near Bright that has a long, rocky trail which is perfect training for Hardrock. I dropped him and his ‘stash bag’ off at Roberts Creek Road and I headed into Bright for a cooked breakfast at one of the cafes. I didn’t have a plan for the day but eventually decided to go and check out Mount Buffalo National Park that was about a 40 minute drive away.

Once I’d eaten my Smashed Avo on toast and downed a Hot Chocolate, I jumped in the car and drove to the ‘The Horn’, the highest point of Mount Buffalo (1,723m). Luckily I could drive most of the way to the top as my legs were pretty sore from the previous days hike. After about a 1km easy uphill walk I reached the end feeling like I was on top of the world.

There was a lady at the top who was busy setting up a flag/banner than she was trying to hang off the side of the railing, but it was so windy she wasn’t having much luck. She had a photographer friend who was somewhere out on the ground ready to take some photos, but her flag and the wind didn’t want to cooperate. I offered my help but she refused and said she would be fine, so I took some snaps and headed back down to the car as it was really cold and windy.

My next stop was another short walk to ‘The Horn’ via ‘The Cathedral’ which was a short drive back along the road I had been earlier. Again there were no cars or people around so I had the trail to myself. It was an all uphill hike again to the top but nothing too steep and easily manageable. The views along the way and at the top were fantastic.

My next stop was Eurobin Falls via Ladies Bath Falls, another trail I had spotted earlier in the morning and thought I’d come back to if had enough time. There were a lot of cars at the trailhead so it would be a more crowded hike than my previous hikes for the weekend, but it would be worth it. Both of the falls were magical and I spent quite a bit of time at both of them, just sitting listening to the water and the birds. I felt so relaxed.

Then it was back to the car for the short drive back to Porepunkah to collect Roger from his training day, with a quick stop at the local Woolworths to get some supplies for dinner. He was looking pretty happy to see me when he came running down the trail, and he skulled down the Ginger Beer I had brought for him as a treat. We headed back to Mount Beauty and ended up having dinner at the local pub, the only place open on a Monday night in town. The steak was really good and the service was lovely, we would definitely come back there for a feed next time.

On Tuesday we got up when our body alarms woke and slowly packed all our gear ready to head for home. We stopped at the local Bakery for some warm drinks and light snack before hitting the highway headed for home. The trip was a beautiful one with lots of winding country roads, but unfortunately our peaceful trip had a bit of a hiccup with our poor girl Kitty getting car sick. She vomited all over the back seat and I’ve never seen so much vomit come out of one dog. We stopped the car, cleaned it, gave Kitty some fresher and when she looked better we put her back in the car and hit the road again. But no more than 10 minutes down the road and she vomited again, this time not quite so much and thankfully contained so it didn’t make much mess in the car. So another stop for some cleaning, some fresh air and to give Kitty some water. After a little while she seemed eager to get back in the car so we let her, and she was totally fine after that. Kitty was fine and snored for the rest of the trip home, lucky bugger.

Finally we were home and greeted by our two other fur babies who had clearly missed us, but I’m sure had been spoilt by our house sitter (thanks Alana). It had been such a fantastic birthday weekend, probably my best one ever!

Thank you Roger, you’re the best!