I wake early and am on the cross country trails clipping my feet into my skis before the first downhill lift has even started turning. I have decided to test myself today by heading towards Mt Gwinean, some 12km (8 miles) return from the resort. Over half the trail will be an ungroomed black cross country run but I decide to take a calculated risk. Besides, if the trail is too challenging I can always walk as most of the snow is firm and icy so I won’t destry the trail.
I feel in tune with nature and aware of the season changing around me. Small shrubs poke through the snow. While it signals the end of the ski season, it is also a tangible reminder that the winter cold, like challenging periods in a person’s life, are impermanent. If you just go with the flow you too can poke your head out of the snow to bloom and grow in another joyful spring and summer.
Ice and snow form gorgeous shapes in the cold morning air. I am mesmerised for ages taking photos and generally admiring Mother Nature’s handiwork before continuing on my travels.
At Baragwanth Flat I turn off the groomed trails and head into Mt Baw Baw National Park. I feel excited about the upcoming adventure. I have long dreamed of heading away from the crowds in snow capped moutains and now the dream is becoming a reality. I still remember my first childhood trip to the snow when Dad took us up to the top of the chairlift and pointed out the snowcapped peaks to us. That was when I decided one day I was going to explore those peaks rather than being stuck going up and down the lifted runs with the crowds. And here I was, heading off to Mt St Gwinear to do exactly that.
While the trail is ungroomed and challenging, it is well signed and stunningly beautiful.
And stunningly beautiful.
The further I travel the more confident I become. While I walk most of the first section of the ungroomed trail, by the time I reach the summit of Mt St Phillick the snow is starting to soften and I am no longer as scared by the trees that stand closer to the trail than they did on the groomed trails. I still take it easy and only ski where I feel it is safe; walking some of the steeper downhills.
The last kilometer between Camp Saddle and Mt Gwinean is unskiable because the snow has pretty much melted on this section of the mountain. But the bursting of spring is stunning and something I’ve never witnessed before. The sun is shining and it’s warm. T-shirt skiing … something super cool.
On my way back to the resort I have some practice runs in each of the bowls and flats I pass. These are great opportunities to get comfortable going fast down small hills without the risk of running into trees. I try some gentle turns and get a better feel for the skis. It helps and I am able to ski back in sections of the trail I had to walk on the way out. By the time I return to the lodge I am pleasantly exhausted, having traveled more than 13km.