This was a magnificent trip into the Jagungal Wilderness with such a lovely, fun easy-going group of people.
Party: Arius, Tom, Mike, Kamilla, Ana, Emily, Saulo, and Rachel (trip leader)
We drove through Cooma to Round Mountain and had approximately 20km to walk to Mt Jagungal. Many Jaffles were eaten during lunchtime and many rivers were leaped during the walk! We spent a little while looking in the charismatic O'Keefes Kosi hut on the way before ascending the ridge to Jagungal Saddle. Millions upon millions of ants live in this band between the lowlands and the higher alpine grassland moors. We picked our way through the bush, collecting pristine mountain water from little streams coming off the range. Finally we reached a stunning granite rocky knoll and then the terrain became less steep and we ambled our way along flat granite rocks and snow grass across the tops. As we rounded the last knoll before Jagungal Summit, we found our campsite: a beautiful flat grassy spot behind some whale fin shaped bounders with views spanning north-east and south towards the Main Range, which had snow on it.
Arius, Tom and I walked towards the summit to take photos, while everyone else enjoyed the campsite and started cooking meals. There was a lightning storm on the Toolong Range west of us and sunset brought out amazing colours. We could see grey rain beign dropped in wide streams all around us, while we stayed dry. We opened a bottle of 'Muddy Boot' wine on the summit to celebrate! However, we were eventually cowed by the incredible winds and hail that the storm closing in upon us brought....and ran for cover in our tents. What an awesome day. The next morning, we all walked to the summit, playing in SNOW on the way(!), and appreciated the views from 2052m. Then we all enjoyed a long walk home :-)
Below is a story of our journey through the scrub I wrote in my tent while it was hailing outside.
The silent rhythmic pace set by placing each foot beneath the tea tree undergrowth is a meditative movement. You get so absorbed in the moment, so focused, yet so detached. Letting the innate reactions take over, you can let go and be a traveller in a natural world that seems just as it should be. Even with the ants crawling over your feet biting you and the sun alternating between bright and dappled light.
It’s also very quiet, and that is so special to experience as the fresh clean alpine wind makes subtle sounds as it dances around your earlobes. The spooky bone like snow-gums that were burnt in the 2003 fires haunt the landscape. Up close they are like fossils with fine fractures and they frame my view like a wreath of the reality of the bush here. Walking through a stand of healthy snow gums closer to the snow line, you can notice their curved, bendable looking branches softening the rough granite outcrops. Then suddenly the snow grass cushions your step, and you walk with almost a bounce and with excitement of reaching higher ground and getting closer to the summit. The long grassy moor of the saddle stretches out like a hammock cradled by two rocky knolls. The silvery snow grass is seamless, and looks like a mammoth’s fur covered with snow slumbering away the day. Mount Jagungal seems to blissfully sleep during the day, while stormclouds gather and thunder threatens from the next ridgeline. We run and climb and crawl all over the slumbering animal’s back and ears and edge out onto the nose. The highest point is like a natural lighthouse where there are 360 views and you can see the storm rolling in.
By night, everything seems more aware. The water in pools on the mountain reflect the moonlight and look like eyes that are alive, the wind in the trees picks up. The rain connects you to the sky and it feels like you are even more connected with the earth as you sink into the soil and reach for the rocks to hold onto as they get more slippery and the ground becomes more difficult to discern as separate. It is all very exhilarating and even though the cold makes your fingers numb, you wouldn’t be anywhere else in that moment.