Considering the number of teenagers in the campsite we still had a peaceful night and slept well.
We take our time with tea and a cooked breakfast (poached eggs and baked beans on toast) and prepare provisions for our loop walk around Mt Staplyton today.
We head off at 8.30am and it's still quite cool and an easy start, with the first 1.4km being flat path from the campsite to the junction of the loop walk. We make good time. At the intersection we turn right and start to climb. For the most part it's steps and path intermingled and quite gradual but soon has us warmed up and muscles loosening. It's a great path through the forest and as you rise you get more and more visibility of the surrounding plains and mountains.
The path curls around the back of Mt Staplyton and about 45 minutes later we start clambering up rock slabs. Easy grip with the Rockers walking boots (we love these shoes from Rivers!) but up and over the rock is the only way - the path is marked with red arrows so you can't get lost.
We take our morning tea break and what feels like the top (HA HA) and then continue into a gully where we encounter 3 Vic Parks workers having a break from doing some path repair. They were certainly doing it in style with their own personal fuel burners and espresso coffee makers. The smell was soo good we had to move quickly so we did not resort to begging!
More rock slab clambering - it's smooth and stable underfoot but quite steep. At times the path is a small rock ledge traversing a bigger slab. Sometimes you need your hands and/or your bum on the rock to ensure you keep your grip. This is all very mentally challenging for Di who is not that keen on rock clambering or heights and even Hans admits to 1 or 2 "hairy moments". We now understand why the path is described as hard - up until then we would have said medium.
The walk down from the mountain is still steep and on rock but the last 5km is a lovely walk through the forest and a gradual winding down the mountain. We pass 20 of the teenagers coming the other way and a few girls ask about the path and of course we tell them it's tough and requires scrambling and some sliding on your bum and they groan (very funny for us).
The total 12km loop is supposed to take 5 to 5.5 hours but we complete it in just over 4 hours (even with a short detour to see Mt Zero and have a break). A good walk which raised a decent sweat and back at camp we take a bush shower, which is set up by national parks with a bucket and shower nozzle. A bit of warm water, soap, shampoo and we feel like new people.
We head to the next campground near McKenzie Falls, Old Mill, and due to it's size we expect some large groups but we are pleasantly surprised to find it nearly empty and really lovely.
It is also surrounded by forest but has great sites with tables and chairs and very protected from the elements. It takes but a moment to settle in with a cup of tea. Nice.
Dinner is wurst with mexican rice and some... red wine.
As we are sitting there, enjoying our post dinner wine, a Mercedes turns up at the campsite and stops at the tent just next to us.
Out come, Ken and Katie, the 2 guys that Hans bumped into on the way up to Mount Abrupt, the same guys that Di talked to at the parking area once they had finished and Hans was still up there somewhere.
Anyway, they sat down with us and we all drank some wine and chatted like we've known each other forever. Very nice people. After some 1.5 hours or so, they left to have their dinner before it goes too dark and we probably all had enough wine for one night. Fun!