My brother, Pete, and wife, Chris, drove us to Walhalla from nearby Rawson where we had all stayed last night. Walhalla is a well-preserved old gold mining village, nestling in a forested and steep-sided valley and was a very peaceful place, with no-one about when we arrived about 8am to begin our trek northwards. Pete and Chris walked with us for the first 5km which followed an old path along the side of the valley. There were lots of good viewpoints and it was a very pleasant way to start our hike, and settle into our packs laden with five days of food.
After Pete and Chris left us we followed the Thomson River northwards on a pretty trail that passed by several historic sites before we crossed the river on a 120yo steel bridge and began climbing. I'm not a fast walker and it soon became apparent that the order of the day was for Julie to gradually disappear into the distance ahead of me, especially as the trail climbed higher and I became more tired. However, this arrangement was fine and we both had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the peaceful eucalypt forest as we ascended the side of Mt Erica.
After lunch at the site of an old mill, the track became more overgrown and climbed steadily and there were many fallen trees to negotiate, which made for hard work on warm afternoon. I didn't spend so much time savouring the peaceful forest on this stretch, and was very glad when we reached a forest road that we followed for three kilometres to the Mt Erica carpark. I expected this first day to be tough, with a full load of food and unpracticed legs and backs, but I was finding it really tough.
Anyway, with the bulk of our distance for the day behind us, and the sun beginning to wane, I struggled on. The towering Mushroom Rocks were a highlight as we wended our way through cool chasms, but my legs complained mightily as we climbed over Mt Erica, from which there were no views, and descended to the Old Talbot Hut site where we camped by the brick chimney stack, the only surviving remnant of the hut. By this time it was almost dark and quite cold. It’s snow country up here on the Baw Baw plateau, and we are surrounded by lovely snow gums and huge boulders. It wasn't fast, but we got the tent up and had a wash with some heated water before changing into warm clothes and enjoying our dinner.
I'm hoping my body recovers a bit overnight, and am looking forward to less climbing tomorrow. Julie is cruising and I think I'll be seeing a lot more of her disappearing into the distance.