With gusty winds thrashing the trees and rain pelting on the windows I easily rolled over and snuggled under the doona, content to procrastinate getting up a little longer. The forecast of ‘rain clearing’ was fighting a losing battle against the lashing rain. Con and I had planned to leave at 7am for the hour’s drive into the Megalong Valley to start our two day hike into the Wild Dog Mountains.
Thoughts of campfire warmth battled with notions of frosty ice on the tent as the clock ticked and I stayed under the doona. I tend to wake early now that my daily rhythm is more in tune with the natural cycle, but my affinity for warmth is keeping my feet from planting on the cold floor. The clock strikes yet another quarter hour since the 5 am chimes, and eventually the campfire wins.
As the sky begins to lighten the rain stops, and we begin to see clear sky in the distance – towards the Melalong Valley. Procastinating no more, we get the start of the trail before 9 and the sky is blue enough in places to lift our expectations.
We take the fire trail option – a more gentle track to start, and not so hard going if the rain returns. We plan to camp at Mobbs Swamp and we’ve been told there’s a dry cave there where we can sleep if the weather deteriorates. Mobbs Swamp is not so swampy after all and there’s plenty of gently sloping campsites among the trees.
We set up camp and boil the billy by 1.30pm which leaves us plenty of time for a walk up to Splendour Rock to check out the view. Without 18kg to lug in our packs its a much easier walk even though its steep for the last few hundred metres.
From Splendour Rock the view to the east takes in the tail end of Lake Burragorang – the waters of Warragamba dam. And to the southwest we can look down the spine of Blue Dog Ridge – our route for tomorrow. Blue Dog Ridge will take us down to the Cox’s River right at the junction of Breakfast Creek about 700m below us.
Back at camp before sunset I get my chance to prove the value of lugging a half decent frypan to the wilds. As well I can lighten my pack by kilos as I remove the weight of rack of lamb and assorted vegetables for roasting over the coaly fire that Con has stoked up. With full bellies we hit the sack by 7.30 as the wind comes back with a vengence.
Sounding like jumbo jet taking off the wind roars up the valley to shake our camp trees before dropping to a quiet lull again. Such a gusty variable wind is harder to sleep with than one that stays constantly howling. Even so, sleep still comes and prepares us for our day’s walk down to the Cox’s River and then back up breakfast creek to our second camp.
A slight detour off Blue Dog Ridge takes us to Knights Deck for a closer view of Breakfast Creek. We stop there for lunch and speculate about which spur leading into breakfast creek is the one with the flat campsite.
Back to Blue Dog Ridge and going down can seem as hard as going up – especially with a pack being a quarter of my bodyweight. The track up Breakfast Creek crosses over maybe 30 times before the camp and at many crossings the track vanishes leaving us to wonder at the way forward.
We make camp by 4pm at a lovely river flat on Breakfast Creek and have enough light to get the fire going for Con’s special salmon risotto. Its a still starry night – which bodes well for a good sleep and a good frost.
Deep in the valley the sun doesn’t reach the grass until after 9 am so we dawdle over bacon and eggs breakfast while we hope for the sun to thaw out the ice on the tents. But its getting thicker as the morning unfolds, so we abandon hope of thawing and drying, and pack up anyway. The walk out takes a few hours and Con is patient with my slow pace uphill pace. We boil the billy at Dunphy’s campground before returning to the wilds of civilisation, hoping to keep hold of the inner peace that comes with being in the bush.