Crosscut Saw Hike
Alpine National Park
January 9, 2009 - January 11, 2009
Who: Crystal, Richard, David
One of the hikes we have been planing to do for a while is the 'Crosscut Saw'. After a few reassurances to my hiking buddies Richard and Crystal that it wouldn't be too difficult we decided to walk from the Howitt carpark to Mt Speculation via Macalister springs. This makes it a 13km hike each day... easy! (I have never been one to obsess too much over contour lines)
It's a fair drive to the starting point (Howitt Plains), which took about 6 hours including a dinner break. The drive was made slightly more tedious by the short wheel base Patrol's hard ride, not to mention the twitchy handling on the gravel roads. The trip up was uneventful nonetheless and we camped at the Howitt Hut for the night. I was going the ultra light minimalist approach so my 'tent' was a cheap 6x8 blue tarp strung up between two trees. Because of this I woke up pretty early. At least my sleeping arrangements allowed me to catch a good glimpse of the sunrise! We divided our 1kg of muesli into 4 portions for our brekkys, it turns out 250g is a fair amount to chew through. (Crystal stuck with Nutri-Grain). We finalised the packing, I was pretty happy with my 11kg pack which included 3L water. It was time to head a couple of kms up the road and start the hike.
From the (busy) carpark it's an easy 1 hour walk into Macalister Springs. This site has a good hut, good water and a good loo. Otherwise known as the "Loo-with-a-view". There were a fair few tents setup too but not many people around. We had a quick rest and then headed out to the main part of the walk. A quick look at the map revealed some intimidating locations - Devils Staircase, Terrible Hollow, Horrible Gap, Mount Buggery. Lucky we didn't have to actually traverse all of the horrific locations, still it wasn't encouraging! Not far from Macalister Springs there are good lookouts of the surrounding country so we took the opportunity to take some snaps. We didn't stick around for long as we found a long black slithery friend nearby. I was quite surprised as it was pretty cool but I guess it's summer and the snake was getting what sun it could. I doubt it enjoyed the view as much as we did though.
We headed towards and on to the Crosscut, and had a bit of lunch on one off the teeth. It is really a spectacular view from up there both to the east and west. Mt Buller was in view giving good mobile reception which is reassuring if anything goes wrong. Not that we were alone anyway, there were plenty of others out on the tracks so it was pretty safe. Even with the sighing of a snake and numerous funnel web spider holes.
Not being in prime fitness we thought we were tackling the peaks with relative speed and efficiency, that was until we were easily overtaken by a pack of oldies on a similar mission to reach Mt Speculation. They were probably double our age, but looked like pretty seasoned walkers. To their advantage they seemed to have acquired expert skills in the art of walking poles. A skill I will soon be learning as I always seems to get a twinge in the knee.
Our original goal of reaching Mt Speculation and most importantly water was looking less likely as we progressed. By mid afternoon we were totally over walking so we decided to camp at the top of Mt Buggery. There was a good camp site and it was really quite peaceful and relaxing. We didn't have much water but we made it last and prepared some dinner. The chosen topic of conversation was limited to the cause of gas production which had been ever increasing in frequency and potency over the afternoon. Was it the KFC on the way up? Muesli? The humus on our lunch? Scroggin? We didn't come to a definite conclusion, one thing I can say is that my ventilated tarp was advantageous over a well sealed tent in terms of fresh air supply.
I got a fairly decent sleep but woke up early. We were on the trail by 7am heading back to Macalister and the car. To me the return walk seemed easier. Perhaps this was because we didn't go too hard with only 2L water between us, or perhaps it just seemed quicker as we were familiar with the area. We had some noodles at the hut and were back at the car by 1pm for a nice corned beef sandwich.
I can recommend this walk and the general area very highly. We are hoping to return again, perhaps even in the snow.