Mt Feathertop via Mt Bogong

Mt Feathertop via Mt Bogong

Five km limits, one hour limits, 25 km limits, borders, restrictions, uncertainty, extreme weather. Getting to the summit of Mount Feathertop has taken a bit longer than anticipated; and via an unexpected path.

Not expecting the unexpected
Getting ready to start the hike at Mountain Creek Picnic Area
Mount Feathertop summit in the snow was the original adventure I signed up for in 2020. I hadn’t done an overnight hike before and it was something to look forward to after a few unexpected personal hurdles. I certainly wasn’t then expecting the big Melbourne lockdown which meant the Feathertop snow hike was postponed twice. I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be rescheduled a third time after it had to be cancelled at the last minute due to extreme weather in December 2020! When Eibhlin offered an overnight hike to Mount Bogong in May I thought I’d sign up as it would be ‘easier’ with less chance of snow and I already had all the gear from the previous year’s false starts. But following the ‘unexpected’ theme of the previous 12 months – there was a huge dump of May snow in the days before our hike. I’d be getting my overnight snow hike!
Pitching our tents in the snow clearing at Bivouac Hut

I spotted Mumm champagne...

The hike began with clear skies and I quickly spotted the bottle of Mumm champagne in Jeanette’s pack. There was some debate on whether a surprise was ruined, but it actually put me at ease that this wasn’t going to be a trudge of deprivation, this was an adventure led by capable hikers who understood the value of enjoying an experience.

The walk up began with nervous energy and chatter and regular breaks for a snack and a drink. Its a 21.4 km circuit loop, and a grade 4 (the grades stop at 5). Jeanette led the walk and talked about ‘Everest’ pace and ‘Kilimanjaro’ pace as we just put one foot in front of the other. Our first bit of snow on the track got the nervous energy and chatter going again, especially as we saw the massive snow-covered summit of Mount Bogong in the distance. 

The views were vast and stunning
I got my hands on the bottle eventually!

I am a night owl

We reached the campsite at about 4:30pm and as it was a bit too late to continue to the summit, we set up camp on the lightly snow-covered ground and got the kettle on. Suddenly stopping meant layering up quickly as we cooled down and we all commented on how cold our feet were.

Cups of hot tea warmed us up as Eibh got dinner on. Rice, lentils and bolognaise – it all disappeared. Then the weirdest part of the whole trip happened. We went to bed. At 6:30pm.

I’m a night owl so this was really strange, but there wasn’t anything else to do as it was so cold! Jeanette gave us a few tips on keeping warm by putting new socks on and throwing the used socks in our sleeping bag so they would be dry by morning, plus introduced us to body warmers. They’re big versions of glove warmers and you pop one on your chest and you have your own little hot water bottle – bliss.

It was a cold night and I was glad of the body warmth of my tent buddy, and my thermals, socks, body warmer and good sleeping bag. Somehow I did manage to sleep, mostly by refusing to look at the clock.

Me, on top of the world - well in Victoria at least! that's Staircase Spur in the background.

The sunrise was stunning

We woke to cold clear skies as we set off for the summit. The sunrise over the mountains was stunning as we rose above the tree line to see the huge snow-covered summit of Mount Bogong that still seemed so far away.
Trudging up to the peak was tough going even though it was a beautiful sunny morning with no wind. Deep untouched snow meant Jeanette leading and the rest of us stepping in her footsteps, which at times was bit of a stretch for my short legs compared to Jeanette’s!
Trudging along I knew I could get to the top, but also wondered whether I ever wanted to do anything like it again. The summit was quite windy but such a stunning view in every direction with nothing blocking our view. We were on top of our little part of the world.


We hiked back down to the campsite and the celebratory champagne was opened, which goes surprisingly well with porridge and coffee!

Morning glory

Say yes to opportunities

After packing up camp we set off down the mountain on tired but happy legs and again I wondered if I’d ever want to do anything like it again.

I was proud of achieving the walk, especially in the snow, and being able to carry the weight of the pack and sleep through a cold night. I enjoyed the scenery and the company of my fellow hikers. But did I need to do it again?

Back in Bright meant a hot bath and red wine and some very sore legs for the next couple of days.

A week later I was still ambivalent about doing the Feathertop hike and two weeks later we were in lockdown again and I was thankful I’d had the opportunity to do an adventure in May.

Being in lockdown got me thinking about the Mount Bogong hike and just putting one foot in front of the other and working towards a summit. Learning from others, leaning on others, supporting others, enjoying breakfast champagne (ok I didn’t do that during lockdown, perhaps I should have), saying yes to opportunities, following a leader, managing energy and expectations – it all helped on the mountain and in lockdown.

So yes, I will sign up for the Feathertop hike – wish me luck!

Written by Melissa Hendry, Get A Grip of the Grind Pioneer

The Feathertop hike is scheduled for the last weekend in August 2021.  We still have some vacancies but spots are limited and there is a queue of people getting the gear list together. 

#liveabiglife #getagripofthegrind #noregrets #impostersyndrome #adventurouslife #performance

If you like what you’re reading why not join us for our annual Get A Grip of the Grind festival held the last weekend in February in Bright, NE Victoria (25-27 Feb 2022) and get your own epiphanies. Our podcast AIFE tells tales about women who are rocking their world. As we learn to live with Covid our weekend warrior programs have recommenced as part of The AIFE Series. You can join us on one of these weekend adventures which can be found on our website.

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