Date: Friday, 10 May 2019
Start: Grey Mare Hut
Finish: Mackays Hut
Daily Kilometres: 21.2
Total AAWT Kilometres: 516.5
Weather: Very cold and overcast with frequent sleet and snow showers
Accommodation: Mackays Hut
Lunch: Trail Mix
Dinner: Rehydrated Meal
Aches: None to mention
Highlight: None really
Lowlight: None really
Pictures: Click here
Map and Position: Click here for Google Map
After a very cold night, sleeping on hard wooden beds, we were slow to get going and didn't start hiking until 7:45. This didn't really matter, because given the forecast for very cold and snowy weather, we had already decided to only walk as far as Mackays Hut, just 21km further on. The next hut after that was a further 18km, so too far to contemplate in bad weather, and we preferred to stay in a hut, rather than camp, given the forecast.
It was very cold when we set out, and Julie was wearing pretty much every item of clothing she had available. The cloud was low, there was a chill wind, and regular sleet showers swept by as we climbed up over the shoulder of Jagungal across exposed open alpine country. There were frequent stream crossings that required carefully stepping on rocks about boot depth below the surface, so we soon had damp boots and socks again. My boots have done over 1000km now, and are showing definite signs of wear, including splits in the Goretex uppers, so the water seems to just go straight into the boots these days.
Despite the conditions, the scenery was still awesome, and between showers we could see far across alpine meadows and heathland that were drained by crystal clear and icy streams. In other places, we passed through misty and eerie snowgum forests. Magic. Given the conditions, we walked without stopping for 3.5 hours to reach O'Keefe's Hut, by which time, we were warmed up and Julie was ready to remove a few clothing layers. We had a late breakfast in the quaint hut, from where there was some mobile phone coverage, and did a quick catch-up on email, checked the weather forecast, and posted the past few days blog.
From O'Keefe's Hut, it was just 9km to Mackays Hut, which we reached by 2:30pm after several more snow showers. However, on arrival, the weather seemed to be clearing, and we gave serious consideration to continuing on for another few hours and camping. It was a toss up, and in the end we decided to trust the weather forecast which predicted continuing snow showers through to midnight, and stay in the hut. This puts us 10km behind where we want to be, so we will try and make it up over the next two days to reach our food cache on schedule.
We eventually got a fire going in the rustic hut and ate an early dinner watching the snow fall outside. Looks like we made the right decision.