Overnight hike in Baw Baw National Park - Whitelaw Hut ruins
In early February is was time to get out into nature again. Living only a couple of hours from Mt Baw Baw I decided to pack my backpack and head out for an overnighter. Avoiding the freeway and taking the roads through the forest, via Powelltown and Noojee, was an interesting alternative and a good start to the trip.
After checking in with the Ranger I left my car in the carpark, changed into hiking clothes, put on the backpack and walked towards Whitelaw Hut ruins. It was late morning and sunny. Nice to feel the legs moving and the pack on my back. It always feels so good to walk into nature, leaving the car and the ’normal’ day behind.
About an hour into the walk clouds moved in and it got a bit colder. The trail initially followed some dirt roads and tracks around the Baw Baw resort, but at some point it became narrower and was partially overgrown with shrubs. I guess the frequent usage over summer kept it from being totally grown in. Getting into more dense forest I started being followed by a herd of blowflies who took a liking to my bare legs - they had two to choose from. As I walked they landed on the leg which was not moving, and as soon as I lifted this leg they flew off and landed on the other leg. Not much fun.
After a few hours I arrived at Whitelaw Hut ruins. I had just finished setting up camp when the rain and wind started. I was relieved that the blowflies finally disappeared. It rained hard for a minute, then it calmed down, and as soon as it stopped the mosquitos showed up - now it was time the get the head-net out and quickly over my head. Wind pants and wind jacket protected me from the little suckers.
I went to get some water around a 100 metres from where I set up camp. Not far, but far enough to get soaked while walking through the wet shrubs. I only had a 2 litre water container with me, so I had to go later again to get more water for tomorrow… hmm...clever, very clever.
Back at the campsite the wind calmed down and eventually stopped. It was dark and the sky was covered in clouds - the dense snowgum forest turned into a ghostly dreamlike arena while I got my stove out to rehydrate some black bean stew and rice for dinner. The mosquitoes were relentless and as soon as I had finished dinner and having my gear sorted I slipped under the tarp and into my bivvy. Nice to be able to avoid the crowds (mosquitoes) but I could hear them all night long, buzzing around, 15 cm from my ears - exactly the reassuring and calming sound I needed to fall asleep ;).
Woke up early the next morning - there was barely any wind but intermittent short showers. By the time I got up, ate breakfast and packed up the rain had stopped. As I would hike back the same way I had come in I knew the trail back to the car was overgrown and I would get totally soaked in a minute - like walking through a carwash. I wore my wind pants and the water from the shrubs was running off nicely, and cooling down just the right amount. My feet were soaked all the way back but never got cold. The sun came through a bit now and then and I really enjoyed the walk. About halfway back the weather changed and a south-westerly wind brought in some colder air. After a short while I found myself walking in cold wet clouds. Where there were large clearings in the forest I was able to see the clouds moving up the hills and over the tops, making the trees and lower vegetation disappear within them. Stunning to observe.
Back at the car I changed into to dry clothes, made a coffee, refuelled with some bars and reflected on the past 24 hours. It had been a wet and coolish outing but I really enjoyed it and felt energised.
Now that you’ve read this, maybe you too want to get out?!
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