I said I'd write about sailing sooner or later and here it is. My sailing adventure didn't really happen when or how I expected, but it was an incredible experience all the same. Here's what happened. On the June long weekend, I was visiting my family in Canberra. I'd just sat down for lunch when I got a text message that threw me into a state of bewilderment, excitement and panic. "Do you want to go sailing from Bali to Broome at short notice?" Short notice meant leaving from Bali in just over a week. On a 36ft yacht. With two people I'd never met. To sail for 6-10 days across the open ocean.
I've covered Twynam and Tate so now it's time for the big one: Townsend. The second highest mountain in Australia, at 2,209m, wasn't on my original list of mountains to go to over the summer. But...well, I was at Mt Kosciuszko and it was just so tantalizingly close. With perfect weather and, being the beginning of February, plenty of daylight, the temptation was too great to resist. Before setting off, I checked my GPS - 3km it said. That didn't sound so bad. It was about 11am and I didn't have to be back at the chairlift until 4pm. So I left the hoards to Kosciuszko and proceeded along the main range track towards Carruthers Peak. After leaving the main Kosciuszko track, the main range track goes down. Quite a long way. I didn't really notice on the way out to Townsend, but I certainly did on the way back! Just before the track started climbing again, I decided that this was as good a place as any to leave the track and make my way to Townsend. I couldn't see a marked trail, but with the peak easily visible I just followed the contour. I stopped for some grasshoppers along the way (which I was quite excited about since I hadn't seen a single one between the top of the Thredbo chairlift and the summit of Kosciuszko) and, after scrambling across a few boulders and weaving my way through huge tussock grasses, I stumbled upon a track! All of a sudden the walking was a lot easier. However, the track is obviously not well-used as it frequently vanishes, only to mysteriously reappear several metres up- or down-slope than where you expect. Having stopped for grasshoppers along the way, it was nearly 2pm by the time I reached the summit - cutting it fine for the 4pm chairlift closing time. The views were spectacular though and, to my great surprise, there were a lot of grasshoppers right at the summit! I quickly collected a few grasshoppers, took some photos and then decided it was probably time to start making my way back. On the way down I tried to follow the track, but it did it's mysterious vanishing act and I lost the trail for a few hundred metres. However, with good weather the end point of the track is clearly visible and losing the trail is not cause for concern. I also came across a very cool alpine metallic cockroach (see photo) which I've only ever seen once before! It posed nicely for some quick photos. By now I was really behind schedule and realised that walking was not going to get me back to the chairlift in time - I'd have to run! So, after climbing back up the aforementioned hill to get onto the main Kosciuszko summit track, I ran most of the way back to the chairlift then collapsed on the chair completely exhausted. It had been a great day, but 22km felt like a very long way!
What can I say? I love the mountains. That's what drew me to my PhD project and I've been lucky enough to spend most of the summer and autumn up here. Here you'll find some ramblings about various mountains I've explored in the search for grasshoppers, as well as other adventures. Enjoy!