Today’s official route has us going over Big Hill. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty big hill. It also has us going up over Roses Pass. Neat.
On the map there’s a nice river and a trail that runs along next to it. No hills. Let’s do that!
In the day or so leading up to this I’d been scouring the Internet looking for information about this trail, what conditions might be like, etc. I’d found info about the Arrow River portion of the route, which would allow us to bypass Big Hill, but nothing further along. Our biggest concern was water levels of the rivers we’d be following as we assume we’d be doing a lot of crossing. Since the trail up Big Hill and the trail up the Arrow River start in the same place we decided to check it out and make a call when we get there. As for the upper portion of the river, we’d make that call when we got to the split.
The Arrow River section was actually a local trail, on local trail signage, so that was a decent indication that it would be fine. And fine it was. The river was a gorge, and the trail was a 4×4 trail which had 2 options: cross the river a lot or take the high road and not do that. We took the high road.
Waterfalls. Lovely views. Nice road. Lovely.
Finally we arrived at the decision point up the river. We crossed the stream we’d be following and it was just fine, so we decided to go for it. While looking for the trail we saw a really janky looking trail and a bit of road leading up to it, and further down the trail a road that had a private road, no public access sign on it. We decided to go back and check out the janky trail. It was jank. But I figured if it got us to something good, it would be worth it. Well, a short while later, it did. A nice 4wd track. I suspected it was actually the private road we saw a ways back but hey, I didn’t see one this way!
Well, turns out someone had thought of that. We got to the stream again and on the other side was a big fence and another scary sign. We turned back. All in all we’d done about 3k getting there and back.
So, back to the official Arrow River route up to Macetown. The 4wd Track kept crossing the river, but almost always there was a side trail for walkers. In fact in one place there was but we missed it. We kinda saw where we needed to go but I couldn’t get there. Frank managed, but I saw a way through the river so I just went for it. In the second crossing I lost one of my poles, but fortunately it floats and got caught in a little eddy and I was able to fish it out. Pro tip: strap your poles on when crossing a river.
Further up the trail we got to where there used to be 8 Mile Hut. The footbridge is still intact though. Barely.
It honestly didn’t feel much more sketchy than any other swingbridge, so it was fine.
We get to Macetown, find a lovely spot to stop and have lunch next to a stream we’ll need to cross. This spot would also have been a really great spot to camp. Further on we bumped into some 4wd folks who were driving extremely happy trucks. One of them had picked up a couple of hitchhikers who were walking this section of the trail and were just dropping them off. While I waited for Frank to Ford the stream, the 2 guys took off down the trail, saying we’d probably catch them. Spoiler alert: we didn’t.
What followed was probably the sketchiest and most unpleasant 5k of trail I’ve ever walked. Sidling with no benching. Steep scree slope crossings with almost nothing in the way of footholds. Huge steps with nothing to get ahold of other than thorny bush to pull yourself up. Really really awful.
And then finally we made it to our climb for the day, up to Roses Saddle.
Really nice view from the top, including of our hut for the night, 600m below and 2km distant.
Upon arrival we find that we are people 17 and 18 in a 12 bunk hut, so the place was crowded as. After a long day of walking the last thing I wanted was a sardine can where I can barely move. Frustrated, I made my dinner and did the needful and tried to figure out where I was going to sleep. I didn’t want to set up my tent, the ground didn’t look like it was going to be very comfortable. I considered sleeping out on the deck but was afraid I’d gotten eaten alive by sand flies. I ended up setting up on the floor under the table. It worked ok.