Visiting : Mt Beauty, West Kiewa Logging Road, Westons Hut
Distance : 36km
When : Thursday 25th May 2017, 9:00am @ Mt Beauty

Birthday Ride 2017. As usual, I over-thought, over-planned and over-packed in the leadup to this ride. As usual, I reaped what was sown.

A lot of things I’d do differently – some things I wouldn’t change for the world.

Plan for this ride was to start out of Mt Beauty, ride up to Mt Hotham and see the sights, bivvy somewhere and return to Mt Beauty the next day. I had plenty of Plan B’s lined up and no hard targets in mind. I was happy to just cruise around and see what I could see in an area that I’ve never ridden before but heard and read a lot about.

The pre-dawn drive out to Mt Beauty was amazing. A massive thin sliver of moon. Dangerously thick fog near Glenrowan that had me crawling along the Hume with eyes wide as saucers. I rolled out of Mt Beauty at the outrageously late time of 9am. On the back foot already. Oh well.

The fun started almost straight away. You don’t have to go far from Mt Beauty to get to the good stuff.

Mt Bogong just over the way.

And soon I was following the West Kiewa River. Steep valley, bench-cut track, the road all to myself. Happy birthday to me!

I was riding with a heavier load than usual and I felt it. I actually kinda hate riding with a heavy load. I guess most people do but then, y’know, you need to bring stuff sometimes so you suck it up, try to pack light and just deal with it. But I’m not reconciled with that reality yet. Sooking and just general discontent were not making for an optimal riding mindset.

But, then again, it was pretty hard to hate life when you’re out riding here :

Came across a campsite at the first river crossing of the day.

Good to know I was sharing this beautiful valley with fellow nature lovers.

Mt Feathertop in the distance.

Man, I was loving the views. Big mountains, top roads, and all brand new to my eyes.

Perfect.

Another river crossing. They were all shallow like this one. Barely got my feet wet.

Options for everyone.

I read somewhere that the main power lines for Mt Hotham run along this road, buried underneath to protect from lightning. Apparently they were visible under the bridges crossing the river.

Yep, that’d be them in the fat conduit on the left.

I was loving the valley. Peaks up high.

Diamantina Spur. I’d read a lot about this track many years ago when I was dabbling in trail running. Love to climb it one day.

Definitely not ridable though.

I started noticing the power company signs on the side of the road. Dial before you dig indeed.

Soon I was approaching Blairs Hut.

There it is, just down the way.

Looks like a nice cozy little shack from the outside.

But it’s a bit rude on the inside.

This place is right near the road so it sees a lot of 4WD traffic I understand. The easier a hut is to get to, the easier it is for uncaring people to get to it and, well, uncare for it.

It would make a fine shelter in a pinch. Just not very loved is all.

Fireplace outside was still warm. According to the hut’s logbook, I’d just missed a solo hiker who was heading up to Hotham and then down to Harrietville.

River’s just there too. Very handy.

Anyway, it was time to work out my next move. My original plan was to head up Machinery Spur and check out Mt Loch, Mt Hotham and resupply at Hotham Heights. Given my current rate of progress (i’d been stopping to take a lot of photos, as you can see) and the big climb up Machinery Spur, I decided that I’d rather save it for another day. Instead, I’d go Plan B – stash the bike and hike up the hill in the Falls Creek direction and check out Westons Hut.

I had enough food with me to not need the resupply at Hotham Heights and I’d studied the area pretty well in the previous weeks so I knew what I was giving up and I knew my Plan B was going to be just as sweet. A good case of planning and analysing everything at home so I could be flexible and safe when I actually got out there.

It’s a steep hike up to Westons. You could probably ride it but it was pretty clear through my reading that it’s designated walkers only. Well, walkers and horses. I guess horses are technically walkers. According to the Blairs logbook there’d been a group of 11 people plus horses who’d just come down from Westons the previous month. I could see evidence of them on the steep track – soft grassy sections churned up by the passing of many hooves. I don’t see how this is any less damaging than the passing of one or two bike riders but maybe it’s more about the spirit of the thing? Either way, I was happy to walk.

Tada!

Seems that the hike up from the road on one side, and the walk in over the Bogong High Plains on the other side serve as a good filter for the clientele this hut receives. Even though it’s only accessible by foot, it was well used and very well looked after. Didn’t hurt that it had been rebuilt quite recently either, after being burned down in the 2007 bushfires.

Even has a water tap. Luxury.

Shame it was so cloudy outside. I was missing out on some great views of Mt Feathertop just across the valley.

After calling home for a quick chat (there’s Telstra reception up there), I cooked up dinner on the stove and sat down to read the logbook. Schoolkids complaining about the hard walk in.

Some of them seemed quite pragmatic though.

I had the fire going, my bag set up. It was still early, before 7pm, but I decided to bed down for the night.

And so began an amazing journey.

I wasn’t very comfortable and I kept waking up but I wasn’t bothered by the fact. I thought and I dreamed and sometimes I couldn’t tell which one I was doing. I followed my mind where it wanted to go and I had what seemed like some incredible realisations. High up there on a mountain by myself, away from the noise of a million busy heads.

I took out my mind, placed it before me in the hut and watched it work. Over and again. Sleeping, waking. Thinking, dreaming. What’s the difference?

The night went on forever and I was in no hurry. Up there alone. A man on top of a mountain, lying down in the dark and dreaming revelations of connectedness.

I saw the faint outline of a daylit window.

Twelve hours had passed.

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