Golden Crown to Sentry Box, Saturday May 23 2009
Trip leader: Colin McNatty. Trampers: Alison Greer, Murray Goss, Gordon Tapp, Alex Thomasen and reporter Jude Paton
Six hardy souls set out in the teeth of a southerly gale forecast to deliver 100km-plus winds, lashing rain and who knows what else? We decided early on to reverse the direction of the planned route, to have the southerly at our backs. This also enabled us to stash the bike (a twist on the usual scenario) in a safe spot near Masters Shelter to await our return.
We set off from Sentry Box at 8:15. Icy patches soon showed up on the sides of the track. With Colin setting a steady pace, we ascended into the mists and with a brief stop for smoko along the way, crested the ridge at 10am where we paused for a photo shot or two.
With an eye to the approaching front, we agreed to continue. Gordon set a cracking pace on Jude’s instructions, to warm us all up. We undulated our way along the main ridge admiring the snowy conditions underfoot and around us. Most of the way, we were in stunted scrubby bush with some protection from the full onslaught of the icy wind. Eventually we found a lunch spot with watery sun that was out of the wind, but minus a view (ah well, two out of three ain’t bad!). Twenty minutes was enough to refuel, cool off and want to get moving again.
Another half hour and we reached the signposts for No Mans and Masters Shelter. Gossy drew the short straw and was duly dispatched down the hill to recover the bike and retrieve the van 7km up the road. The rest made their way leisurely down, knowing there’d be a wait at the bottom. The wind picked up and a couple of the lighter weight members dropped to their knees and hung onto a bush or two on the exposed rocky section. As we got lower down, we warmed up and started to discard hats and gloves. More watery sun greeted us, rather than the rain we expected. A family with two young children had made a fire in the BBQ (no sausages, mind!), a welcoming sight, and told us Gossy had a 20-minute start on us. This was just before 3pm.
After a snack and a natter, we headed on down to the road, where we waited … and waited … and waited, sheltering in a shallow hollow behind a couple of trees, rugged up once more against the freezing cold wind. Eventually the family drove out, stopped to check we were okay and offered to drive up the road to find out what had happened. They arrived back to report that the bike had a flat tyre and Gossy had had to push it, but he was nearly there.
A few minutes later the van pulled up, we piled in (no way were we exposing ourselves under those conditions), pumped up the heat and off we went, looking back up at the rapidly receding hills as the southerly closed in, congratulating ourselves on our excellent timing and wondering about future multi-sport days out!