We must be mad to try two peaks in one day.
Climbing Mt Sturgeon was so exhilarating. We all but floated down the mountain.
We check our watches and the sky. There’s loads of daylight left, so we decide to fit in another peak before dinner.
The Chatauqua Peak trail leaves straight from Halls Gap, just off Northern Grampians Road behind the sports oval. I mention it, because the instructions on the map are a little vague and if you’re not well versed in Halls Gap landmarks, you might walk around for a little bit like a lost git (speaking from experience).
We hope the downpour earlier that week is still working its way through the catchment. The first part of the trail leads to beautiful Clematis falls. The brochure speaks very highly of it. Unfortunately, when we get there, all we find is a dead end at a damp rock face.
Oh well, onward and upward.
Chatauqua ascends at a leisurely angle and it’s not long until we reach the first viewpoint. I look eastward over farmland and take in a deep breath. He’s wedged himself into the rock face looking south.
“Come here,” he says. “Stand here.”
I swap places with him and see this.
Halls Gap sprawls out before us, a long green valley carved between jagged peaks. You don’t get this perspective from either the ground or the peaks. The view from the middle is just stunning. Chatauqua isn’t as high as its neighbours and this could easily be the pinnacle, but we know it’s not. We’re savvy about that now. We see the trail and we keep going.
Towards the real peak, the rock scrambling begins and it’s not an easy hop and skip over boulders either. It’s a proper haul your whole body weight up and hope your foot finds a wedge, style of scrambling. The little yellow markers are well placed. They tell us to keep going even when we’re pretty sure there’s nowhere left to climb.
We’re balancing right on the ridge line of the range. In many places, it’s a giddy thrill when the wind blows and we try not to look down.
We see someone hopping up the rocks behind us like a mountain goat and jest that he’ll probably beat us to the bottom at that rate. He grins at us and says darkly,
“Only if I take the quick way down.”
“You don’t think he meant that, do you?” We muse as we follow the trail downward to Halls Gap.
“I doubt he’d be so good-natured about it.” I say, but I’m not 100% sure.
It’s 5.30pm and we’re starving. I’m craving steak.
I know this isn’t a food blog, but I feel like I ought to share what felt like conquering the third peak of the day, the Quarry Tower from Quarry restaurant. Yikes!