Day 1: We got a late start from St. Arnaud, not leaving the carpark until after noon. The first section, the "Pinchgut Track," was about an hour of switchbacks straight up the ridge. More like the "Knee Cruncher Track." We then took the Robert Ridge track... felt like we were walking on top of the world. There were sections that had very steep, long drops on either end, and we were working our way over somewhat unstable, uneven rock piles, but I did ok. The sun had just dropped behind the mountains when we arrived at the final descent to Angelus Hut. It was the single most beautiful moment of the entire road trip. Pure magic. Angelus Hut had just been rebuilt and reopened the month before, so it was new and very nice.
Day 2: Long day. We started down from Angelus Hut around 9:00 a.m. on the Cascade Track. The first section of the track went pretty much straight down the back of the ridge. It was slow going, especially due to my knees. It leveled out a bit eventually, but we still had many hours walk through the beech forest. Basically, we had to walk all the way around the big mountains. Would have been much easier to go straight over! We got to Hopeless Hut around dusk (5:30 p.m.). Hopeless was an apt name. We shared the six bunk, single room hut with a very creepy hunter. I'm very glad I wasn't staying there alone with him.
Day 3: Fortunately, Mr. Creepy Crazy Hunter got up before light to head into the bush, so Dave and I were able to relax with a cup of tea in the morning before hitting the trail. We backtracked part of our steps from the previous day, following the Travers Valley. We were only on the trail for about a half-day, arriving at Coldwater Hut in time for a late lunch. We found two more hunters at Coldwater Hut, but they were completely different from Mr. Creepy Crazy. The four of us had a raging fire going, and spent most of the evening talking about everything from guns to movies. They were great company and great conversation.
Day 4: After breakfast, we hit the trail for the last time. We were only about 2.5 hours walk from the carpark. The first part of the trail was more of the same (beech forest next to a body of water). The very last part followed a gravel road, which was monotonous and boring, but it's always great to see the van after some time in the woods (and even better when the engine starts!).
The trip was great. Arriving at Angelus at sunset... the interesting trail down Cascade Track... great company with the hunters at Coldwater... definitely my favorite hike.
Check out the pictures. The ones from the first day are stunning. It was even better in person!