Travelling down through to tablelands of New South Wales from the coast reminded me of the rural life that I had experienced as a child when we would go on holidays. Its beauty and richness are second to none in this world. I did have to travel to thirty countries and spend a lot of time learning to appreciate this, but now I know just exactly what it is Australia means to me.
Our goal today was to reach the “Roof of Australia”. I know it sounds all very strange and questions are raised by this statement, however we do have a highest point in our country and I really wanted to stand atop of it with my lovely lady. It would be our second mountain in the year and it is by all account a very different place to be.
Karine was seemingly amazed at the fauna and flora of the area as we came into the Snowy Mountains Area. It was a cold and cloudy day, with minimal blue patches peering through the white cotton covers. We had packed for a good hike and by all standards it was apparently that. 13kms of well paved walking to the summit and back down. I thought a walk in the park……Literally.
When purchasing the lift tickets, I questioned the cashier about the hike and she said “officially today it is closed because of the overnight snow fall, however if you choose to go……Do so at your own risk”. I like a good disclaimer as much as anyone, said thanks and we took the chair lift to the top station.
Turning the corner of the lift station and seeing the beautiful granite formations forging their way out of the alpine meadows and through the snow was a wonderful site. We walked on and began snapping shots of the surrounds to try and capture memories of this amazing opportunity that we had ahead of us this day.
At this time of year snow this late is not a common occurrence and it had dropped a bundle overnight. Fresh powder on the ground and the old melt creating a stunning cascade of babbling brooks and flowing creeks was wonderful. The ice naturally creating magical moments that time-lapse photography can only create.
As we approached the lookout stop for Lake Cootapatamba, the highest altitude lake in Australia, I noticed the path disappeared up ahead into the snow. Footsteps continued on though and I was happy that we were not the only ones heading for glory. Lake Cootapatamba is located at 2,048 meters, which is about 800 meters south of the summit.
This is where the real beauty of the hike kicked in for me. I was in the high country, walking through snow and on my way to the top of Australia. I had wanted to do this for many years and for many reasons had not. Karine was slightly trailing behind with her camera working overtime, capturing this incredible landscape. I have always associated snow with pine trees and mountains, but this landscape is truly unique and truly ours in this great southern land.
Another snow drift ahead and then another as we reached about 2000 metres ASL. We were both really enjoying this experience far too much and I was ecstatic about this. It was now getting colder and according to the weather bureau it was apparently around minus five degrees celsius. Fortunately we had prepared for this possibility and were toasty warm in our down jackets and wind proof soft shells. Thanks again Patagonia and North Face.
I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful I was feeling as I was about to head out into the beautiful white wilderness ahead of me to begin the final section of this hike. I also knew Karine was really stoked to be here too. She loves a good hike and also loves being in the mountains. It is truly a place where all things become less relevant and pure joy pervades above all else.
As we reached the summit we were not a lone by any stretch. There was a group of high school children standing atop the mountain and a couple of others lurking around solo. We were standing on the highest point in Australia and it was beautiful, wild and rugged. The wilderness will always draw you in if you remain unaware of its agenda.
Staring out across the southern alps standing on top of Mount Kosciuszko, I smiled and thought of my dad and all he had made possible for me. I thank him most days for my good fortune and ability to approach my fears head on. I kissed Karine and we stood there for a while just staring out in amazement…..
Walking back down “the hill” we enjoyed the snow drifts again and the scenery continually changing. We wandered slowly stumbling from time to time due to a little fatigue as we had driven a long way and then completed our adventure for the day. We felt a sense of achievement that was only ours and we were looking forward to a warm meal and a nice glass of red wine.
The mountains are always unpredictable and exciting to be part of. 🙂