We have high hopes for our first day in the Grampians. Geddit? High …
The sky isn’t promising. It’s blue when we start out but then the cloud gets low and we pass through showers on the drive down from Hall’s Gap. Did we make the right decision to go south today? If we climb the mountain, will we see anything at all?
Mt Sturgeon is at the southern tip of the Grampians in Dunkeld with expansive views north over the ranges and far over the surrounding farmland and countryside. It’s a 7km walk and we’re confused when we see the sign that says – Mt Sturgeon 3.5km. We all have derp moments. Don’t pretend like you don’t.
The start of the walk is an easy sand path with grass trees all around. We think we’re in for a cruisy time until the climb begins. Then it’s a steep ascent up a rocky path and hot work
The view north toward Mt Abrupt reveals itself gradually. We’re quite high up almost before we know it.
We think we must be nearly at the top when we pass a group of hikers on their way down.
“How far?” we ask and they look at us with pity.
“About a third,” one of them replies and we think he’s having a laugh.
The vegetation thins out. The trees are stunted and wild looking and the leaves grow thin and hardy. It must get cold here, battered, bitter and windy. It’s stark and beautiful.
We get to a rocky outcrop that seems like it could be the summit. It looks east over farmland and tiny trees dot over the landscape like fluffy sheep. We catch our breath, shake out our legs and celebrate. This mountain hiking business is awesome.
Except, there’s a path continuing south.
Why is there more path? Why is it going downhill? We’re pretty sure Mt Sturgeon is supposed to be a return track. Where does that trail go?
“I wonder if we’re supposed to get up there,” he says to me, pointing to an unstable looking cliff edge. “I think I read something about there being a rock scramble.” We contemplate whether our punished legs have another climb in them and also how we’d survive the night if we get lost up here.
Yeah, we can get dramatic.
Here’s an important lesson about the Grampians. If it looks like you can get higher, you can bet your patootie you ain’t at the peak yet. You have to keep going, even if it isn’t obvious how you’re supposed to get there.
Trust me, when you reach the summit of Mt Sturgeon, you’ll know. It’s only another fifteen minutes or so and definitely worth it. There’s a 360 degree view . You’re on top of the world.
It rained on us, but we didn’t mind. That hot cup of tea tasted so good.