Monday 26 – Friday 30 August 2019
All photos by Karen
Day 1 (Tuesday) Porcupine Rocks: As you can see from the map this walk starts at Perisher Village and heads towards Porcupine Rocks on the escarpment. We had good snow cover which was firm, and perfect for getting used to the snow shoes. Our track was 8 km in total, and as the day was fine, clear and sunny we lingered along the way to soak up the magic of the experience. We came across a lot of very friendly cross country skiiers and several pairs of snow shoers who also couldn’t believe their luck in finding themselves out in the snow on such a gorgeous day.
We hired our snow shoes from Wildnerness Equipment in Jindabyne ($69 for 3 days), and Dave lent me his walking poles which had big crosscountry snow baskets at the base which helped a lot in the softer snow.
Day 2 (Wednesday) Cascade Trail: Our track today was 8.5 km and as we started walking the trail from the carpark, we were wondering if there would be enough snow to comfortably complete the circuit. The trail itself had good snow cover, but the surrounding hills were starting to look a bit bare. However, after crossing the Thredbo River bridge, we headed upslope and into deeper snow. I’ve spent very little time in snow, and I found this whole experience to be really quite something.
We had the back country above Dead Horse Gap to ourselves on this occasion and Dave unerringly led us off track in a wide circuit, and finished by descending through a mercifully unburned forest of snowgums. We saw one brumby near the start of the walk and once again, because the weather was fine, we were able to linger a while and enjoy the day.
Day 3 (Thursday) Plains of Heaven:
Having checked the weather forecast the night before, there was a high possibility that it would be snowing at Perisher today. However we were delighted to find, on opening our curtains at 7am, to see that it was actually snowing in Jindabyne!
So fully prepared for possible snow showers, we once again headed up Kosciuszko Road towards Perisher. Today’s start point was Dainers Gap, a popular roadside “play area” for non skiers, about 3 km past Sponars Chalet. Alighting from our cars we were instantly aware that today was going to be much colder, we would need to wear those extra layers that we had been carrying for the previous two days.
Due to its popularity the first part of the slope was pitted with deep boot prints, however as we climbed the snowscape changed to softer snow with fewer tracks. Continuing to climb in a northerly direction we soon left the road well behind, and found ourselves looking down over the “Plains of Heaven”, a narrow plain between us and Kerry View Hill. Before descending onto the plain we spent a little time examining an interesting cornice edged in fine icicles.
The initial objective of our intrepid leader Dave, was a Trig Point on Kerry View Hill. The lighter snow cover on the plain, which often just covered the ground hugging bushes, led to a more cautious stride in order to prevent the snowshoe breaking through the surface. Though it was a steady climb up Kerry View Hill to the Trig Station, as this was to be our morning tea stop, we could relax and enjoy the magnificent view across to the Main Range.
With snowshoes back on it was time to descend a little to the east before tackling “The Devils Staircase”. Though the descent, through beautiful snow-gum forest and around granite boulders, was continuous it wasn’t quite as difficult as its name had implied. Mind you, a few times someone’s snowshoe and boot would disappear as they broke through a false cover of snow.
Though Dave had hoped to push on to the next hill, which also had a Trig Point, we decided that we would have to leave that for the next snowshoe adventure.
A large granite rocky outcrop provided the perfect dry spot for a leisurely lunch before tackling the climb back up “The Devils Staircase”.
As we did not need to revisit the higher Trig, our climb was shorter taking us to a point where we simply followed a contour around the hill. Soon we were looking back down onto the “Plains of Heaven” not only with the knowledge that it was but a short walk back to the car, but regrettably knowing our days snowshoeing were coming to a close.
This has been an incredible snowshoe camp. We have experienced sunny days and snowy days. We have walked through open plains, snow gum forests, and around granite boulders. We have climbed and descended snow covered hills that offered incredible views. Except for the occasional animal tracks in the snow, we have been alone out there in this pristine environment. We have experienced all this, not only in the good company of fellow members, but also under the expert leadership of Dave, whose knowledge, skills and experience made for an incredible three days snowshoeing. The snowshoe camp closed with dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Jindabyne.