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Monday

Walk Mount Zero!

Hollow Mountain and Mt Stapylton from the Mt Zero Summit, Northern Grampians, Victoria
Hauling myself up the rocky drop-off towering above my head, I desperately clung to the cold hand rail, slippery with drizzle, hoping like hell my arms wouldn't give way. Vertigo kicked in as I scrabbled for a foothold. Looking neither to the right (dizzying drop off) or the left (dizzying drop off), I focused on wedging the toe of my trusty Aussie T-boot into the cleft in the rock.
Looking down the track
This probably wasn't the best time to test exactly how non-slip my boot soles really were ...

Sweating like a pig Glowing gently in the October 2011 Grampians spring day humidity, I thought longingly of the splendid Halls Gap Bakery lunch we'd left in the car, a couple of hundred metres below.
This walk was a fairly short – and moderate – one wasn't it? On that, Pilchard and I had agreed. We'd climbed Mt Zero, northernmost peak of Victoria's magnificent Grampians many years before and we both remembered a climb to a fantastic vantage point from which the Dadswells Bridge Big Koala was ALMOST visible!

'Let's knock this one over before lunch,' Pilchard had suggested as we pulled into the car park, ready for some Northern Grampians action. 'It won't take long.' I agreed. How hard could it be?

Yeah right. Who's sorry now, I wondered, toiling up the last pinch before the summit. The track wasn't familiar and I was beginning to doubt that we HAD previously hiked it – until we'd reached the grab rail. THAT I recalled. But why had I thought the hike was easy?
Looking North from Mt Zero summit, Grampians, Victoria
Thankfully a grab rail surrounded the summit – so I could enjoy the staggering 360ยบ view overlooking the plains of Victoria's Wimmera district to the north, and the great bulk of Mt Stapylton and Hollow Mountain to the south. And to think! Down there somewhere, hidden in the undergrowth near the car park was a scenic public toilet just itching to be photographed (see if you can spot it in the top photo!!). But not from here – it wasn't visible from this distance ...

We peered down the sheer cliff dropping away to the plains beneath. Where was the 'other' track of yesteryear? The 'easy' one we both remembered climbing last time??
No wonder it's not visible from the summit!
Nada.

A light drizzle drifted under my visor, its misty drops speckling my glasses. I exhaled. My glasses fogged up and my vision went from 'blurred' to 'non-existent'. How much fun would the descent be if the rain started for real?!?!

Slowly, we picked our way back down over the track's now-wet rocks and slippery clay. A dramatic panorama opened out in front of us – even better on the descent and even more atmospheric in the deepening drizzle. Clear days were REALLY overrated.

Although my shorts MIGHT have survived better if the steep bits of the track I scooted down on my bum had actually been dry ...

Back in the carpark, our bakery lunch quickly becoming a distant memory, I checked the track notes in the Grampians guide. 'A steep climb for the adventurous family …' it began, going on to describe the rail-assisted ascent. No, it wasn't the most difficult walk in the park – but nor was it the most relaxing!
Coming down the mountain - wildflowers on Mt Zero track!
How could we have thought this walk was easy? Were we losing our minds and/or memories?? What possible explanation could there be for our amnesiac poor judgement???

The more we thought about it, the more we were drawn to one inescapable conclusion, the only explanation that made any sense.

Sad ... but true.  The last time we'd climbed Mt Zero, we were 20 years younger … so that explains EVERYTHING!!!

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41 comments:

  1. You're really courageous! I would be so frightened! But what a gorgeous place, breathtaking view!

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  2. You're a braver soul than I am but Wow! what a view - well worth the effort.

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  3. Yea, You were 20 years younger, faster and with more power, but now You could delight in majesty of these mountains and describe the beauty of the landscape in new way :)))

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  4. Hi,
    Look on the bright side, it may have been a bit easier 20 years ago, but you were still able to do it. :)

    Fantastic photos, the scenery is breathtaking.

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  5. There is a reason scenery is so often described as breathtaking, and I suspect it has a lot to do with effort.
    Putting a grabrail at the TOP is a bit like shutting a stable door after the horse has bolted.
    But wonderful photos of wonderful views and, as always, a great read. Thanks!

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  6. @Francesca - Haha! Just between you and I, I'm actually a bit of a coward ... but you're right - the view makes it all worthwhile!
    @Dianne - One day one of you will break my cover and reveal the walk to be tame ... but until then, I'll take the accolades!!
    @Ken G - You're right! There's no way I would have described it like this 20 years ago!! Thanks for the reminder!!
    @Magsx2 - Ah yes, the ultimate ageing barometer ...
    @FruitCake - Haha, never thought of that!! And you're right about the level of enjoyment being proportionate to the effort! Maybe I should start petitioning for a travelator??!!!

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  7. Very gripping narrative, Red. When I climb a mountain, there's only one thing I dread, going back down hehe

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  8. I tend to do more dangerous things now than I ever did 20 years ago. I guess it's good not to have a reference point from the past or a lick of good judgement. What type of things you ask. Hiking steep mountains on the day I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine, kayaking in an inflatable kayak in the open ocean without shark repellent, canoeing over the top of a ten foot alligator (I really thought he would dive under the canoe), driving in South Florida in the rain. Yep - my life is one long death wish. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

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  9. oh you're not that far away from me. Gorgeous photos and impressive achievement - thanks for doing it so I don't have to. X X annie o'dyne

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  10. You are brave to tackle that walk 20 years older. I bet you felt chuffed by the end. Great story and photos.

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  11. Bonza photos, boring toilet no style. Twenty years younger time does take its toll on the best of us, but you were still able to make the climb, i guess to a little bit of puffing was involved :-).

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  12. Awesome post!

    Have largely given up the dangerous stuff in life, mainly because my health insurance would not cover the injuries.

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  13. Damn, it's hell to get old(er) isn't it? ((I wouldn't have been able to climb that when I was 20s but my grandkids would love to do it now!)

    Beautiful scenery. I had to laugh at "gently glowing". My mother used to say that ladies glow, men perspire, and horses sweat. My mom never lived in Florida.

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  14. @Aleah - Used to think ascending was more difficult, but now I know better!! Although sliding down on your behind is a good compromise!
    @SFlaGuy - Well, you're either a daredevil, or mid-life crisis victim?? Whatever, reading YOUR blog makes MY adventures look tame!
    @Annie - Haha! How good that my adventures have become vicarious!!
    @diane b - I sure did! It's a never-ending battle to PROVE I'm not yet past it ...
    @Windsmoke - A LITTLE bit of puffing? You have NO idea, my friend! Or do you??!!
    @Beach Bum - Happily, my insurance is as yet untested - for the serious stuff, anyway!!
    @Sallie - Ain't that the truth! Love your 'sweat' saying - a well known Aussie song says 'I come from a land downunder ... where women glow ...'!

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  15. Sometimes I sit and wonder at what I could achieve twenty years ago, but I don't worry about it. It is just interesting to remember. Mind, if I have the toilet location correct, it looks to be quite a distance away and rather a lot lower.

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  16. Hi I am new here and I am awed by your awesome treks, amazing! I am not built like you so I can only view and read with envy. Even passing those two rock walls intimidate me. OMG!

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  17. @Andrew - the loo is in the carpark btw Mt Zero and Mt Stapylton, but sadly without a clear view to either, so it doesn't deserve it's own post ...
    @Andrea - Welcome and thanx! I'm sure I've made it look more difficult than it is because I'm a drama queen!

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  18. Those views are amazing! I'm so glad I got to see them here though and didn't have to scale a cliff for the experience.

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  19. Thanks for the great description of this place. You describe it so well and I feel like I will have to go there one day and see for myself. It looks like a great challenge at any age.
    I loved the "glowing" bit too. It made me laugh.

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  20. Hi there - that part of the Grampians really is splendid.

    About 10 years ago I did the walk along Hollow Mountain. You have to lower yourself into a cave system to get off the top! One day I'm going back!

    Splendid post.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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  21. Hahaha! I was waiting the whole way down for you to come to that conclusion Red, but I take my hat off to you, you must be in pretty good shape to be able to do that climb and I so enjoyed the view through your eyes, truly spectacular!!

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  22. What an amazing walk! No wonder you were 'glowing'!

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  23. I would have been stuck terrified at the top and required rescuing, so you did VERY well, even if 20 years has passed!

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  24. @River - Glad I could show you!!! Taking shots is a great excuse to rest - no one gets that that's what I'm doing!!!
    @Nikki - The whole Grampians area is marvellous - there's walks and amazing sights for all fitness levels! You too can glow ...
    @Stewart M - Haha! One day I'M going back to Hollow Mountain too!!
    @PDP - I wish I WAS in good shape! This was a relatively short hike - it's just a fantastic vantage point to get a great view!
    @ladyfi - it wouldn't actually take much of a walk to get me 'glowing' - or 'blowing'!!!
    @NJAMB - So would've I if not for my unique descent technique - slide down the steep bits on your butt!!!

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  25. wow lovely photos..the scenes are awesome! thanks the add in TBEX...feel free to visit my blogs..thanks..

    See The World
    Travel Euroasia
    Europe Travel Pad
    Countryside Trip

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  26. Mmmh, A steep climb for the adventurous family ehh? Better learn the meaning of all Aussie signs for future reference :-).
    You are right, I missed the link to my most surprising post, which happens to be a travel post http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.com/2009/01/trip-to-kawau-island-on-board-of.html

    the funny thing is that a few people commented that they went through my links bla bla bla and nobody noticed :-) hahahaha

    Ciao
    Alessandra

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  27. I think you nailed it with the age thing. I haven't done this type of climb in ten years. Time does catch up with you, but you are still a spring chicken and no excudes are acceptable. I'm so glad you made the summit. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  28. A wonderful post, and I can really relate. Absolutely can't do the things I did 20 years ago (or if I do, it's a lot harder!!).

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  29. @RedRuby - Welcome, and thanx! Will catch up soon ...
    @Alessandra - Hahaha! I've blown their cover!!! Thanx for the link - it's obviously got a keyword people are still looking for!
    @Mary - Ah, no excuses wanted either! Would SO rather be able to do it than not ...
    @Spare Parts - (me too) Lets make that our little secret!!!

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  30. That tracks looks VERY narrow! I would like to bag that peak though. Thanks for the tip;)

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  31. you're my hero! i'd be so frightened!

    truly beautiful photos and landscape! great views!

    big hugs!
    betty X's

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  32. @Annabel - If I can do it ANYONE can! And most of the track isn't quite that narrow ...
    @Betty - I'm the world's biggest coward! But it's SO worth it for the view!

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  33. Fantastic photos!
    Thanks for sharing all these great places to go :)
    Have a nice weekend
    Yvonne & Raphael

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  34. I'm proud of you for making this hike. I'm not sure I would be brave enough to try, but the view looks amazing. We're also finding that the hikes we take have gotten longer, steeper than they were 20 years ago. I just don't understand how that happens.

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  35. somewhere near The Grampians is Mackenzie Falls and I climbed up/down to that and it nearly killed me but of course was worth it.
    wishing you happy trails ...

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  36. Great story supplemented by excellent photos!

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  37. Holy cats! You actually climbed that! That's daunting at any age.

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  38. Raphael&Yvonne - Thank you! Hope you get to see them for real one day!!
    @George - Thank you too!! It's weird how that 20 year thing happens, isn't it!!
    @Marshall Stacks - Did the McKenzie Falls walk this time too, for the first time in AGES! I think it took about 3 times as long as it did last time, and I swear the track was steeper ...
    @NixBlog - Welcome, and thanx! Plenty more where these came from ...
    @Cathy - Your amazement is my reward!!

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  39. Great shots of a very beautiful area. I love mountains, and that sounds like just the type of trail I'd love - somewhat challenging, but not needing technical skills or equipment. Where I live there are many mountains over 4km high that can be climbed without technical skills, including our local one which I've driven up several times in my little old Corolla!

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  40. Yep. Vertigo and me, we're old friends. What a glorious view! But I'm glad you photographed it for me. I would have a hard time achieving it for myself!!!

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  41. @Al - Climbing in the Corolla sounds like a GREAT way to go!! I'm no mountain climber - so most of what I've 'conquered' has been easy enough without extra equipment! And that's how it'll stay ...
    @Diane - Maybe we should form a 'VVLP' (Vertigo Victims Loud & Proud) club??!! I think you'd find it easier than I've made out - I AM a drama queen, you know!!!

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