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The Summit: Kosciuszko National Park: Final Day

©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016We were up by 7:30am and had our hiking bag packed with plenty of water and snacks for our hike up Mt. Kosciuszko. Originally we wanted to climb from Thredbo village to the summit but it would take us more than 7 hours one way. Also with unpredictable weather we didn’t want to risk getting stuck out on the mountain. We made our way to the valley terminal to see if we could catch a chair lift up some of the way. The only operating chair lift was the Snowgums lift that takes you 1930m up to where the Eagles Nest restaurant sits.
©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016We paid $35 dollars for our passes which gave us a return ticket back down the mountain, as long as we got to the chair lift before it closes at 4pm. We were approached by one of the workers in the valley terminal shop who was making sure we were aware that there was still a lot of snow on the peaks and strong winds. I was planning on tackling the mountain in some jeans but thankfully I have a very wise boyfriend that suggested that I hire a pair of snow pants for the climb. It is probably best to mention that I do not usually cope with cold temperatures all that well, so I was grateful that I hired some warmer pants.
©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016After a quick coffee and hot chocolate we made our way to the chair lift, we caught the lift around 9:50am. A minute into our ascent up the mountain I decided it was a good time to take some photos soI took off the lens cap to my camera and in the process I dropped it… But I managed to catch it with my legs! It was very lucky I didn’t loose it to the forest floor beneath me. After that ordeal it was a peaceful ride as it carried us over the tree tops and the gushing waterfalls that were a result of the melting snow. It took roughly 30 minutes for us to reach the end of the lift. It was 10:30am by the time we got off the chair lift and sorted out our bag and jackets. From where we got off the chair lift it was going to be a 13km hike to Australia’s tallest mountain of 2228m.
©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016Around 12:00pm we had reached our first stopping point in our hike. We had made it to the lookout point for Mt Kosciuszko it was here that we took a quick break. Just off to the side of the viewing platform we found some large rocks that we sat behind to help block out the strong winds. After 15 minutes we were more refreshed, we packed up our things and got back into the hike. At roughly 1935m I noticed that there was a lot of alpine plants flourishing. It is the result of the snow that has melted away in weeks prior. These plants sit dormant under layers of snow for many months at a time but it is once the soil reaches a certain temperature that these plants re-awaken from their dormancy. However as we hiked higher the flora and the pathway slowly disappeared under a thick carpet of icy snow.
©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016It was surprising just to see how much snow still remained on the track considering we are only a few months out from summer here in Australia. The snow was so thick there were a few times we were guessing the direction of the pathway beneath our feet. We discovered running water under some sections of the snow and large holes, so we took our time crossing sections of the hike.  ©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016We hiked for another 45 minutes before having another quick break before ascending the final part of the hike. From our second rest point we had an amazing view of Mt. Kosciuszko which is shown in the panorama picture at the very top of this blog post. I took that photo on my boyfriends phone and in the process it almost blew out of my hands. The winds we were experiencing were extremely strong, the wind speed would have been roughly 70-80km/h. After I took the initial photo my boyfriend noticed a small avalanche off the side of Mt. Kosciuszko. It looked fairly recent, we wondered if it had happened only a few days ago.
©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016By 12:45pm we were at the final point of the walk and we had exactly 1.67km left to climb until we could say we have been to the top of Australia. Looking up at the hikers in front of us, who were smart enough to bring along snow shoes, made us realise this was going to be the hardest part of the hike. We faced the issue of not being able to get a good footing due to the snow being very icy and slippery. But we were up for the challenge. As we got to the last 30 metres of the summit we could barely get a firm grip so we resorted to our only option of crawling up the mountain for a good 5-10 metres… It was all worth it as we got to the top. The final climb to the summit took us 45-50 minutes to climb.
We had reached the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko! Our views from the top were not as amazing when compared to others who have done this hike. But looking out into nothing but the white abyss I felt extremely happy I got to experience this climb in all types of weather and this to me was the best view I could have asked for at the end of it. Why? As corny as it may sound it isn’t about seeing the view from the top of the summit, for me it was about being able to achieve a physical, mental and personal goal.
The return hike back down to the starting point took us approximately 2 hours and we were back on the chair lift by 2:30pm. The last 30 minutes on the descend back down the mountain was when we finally felt tired. ©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016©BMHPhotographyTheGardener’sNotebook2016 By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

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