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In the second week of the April holidays, a group of eight Duke of Edinburgh students from Years 10, 11 and 12, Ms Bortolussi, Ms Constable and Outdoor Education contractor, Jannik Koop, visited the Alpine National Park and completed a four-day hike across Mount Speculation, Crosscut Saw and Mount Howitt. A phenomenal yet challenging experience, this hike really gave everyone a new appreciation for the outdoors.

On the first day we arrived at Tintern at 6.00am to finalise packing our food, water, tents and clothing and group gear for the four days. We then drove to our starting point at the intersection of Bindaree Road and Bluff Link Road (near Mt Stirling) arranged a bus shuttle for the final day and hiked 8km to our campsite at King Hut. This was a fairly relaxed walk as it was on a gentle downhill gradient and the scenery was beautiful. Once reaching our destination at the campsite, we spent a few hours settling in, exploring the area, setting up our tents and preparing the delicious meals we had brought with us in our small groups.

The second day was harder and was spent hiking to the Camp Creek Campsite, next to Mount Speculation. We began the day by hiking up a spur and a section called “The Staircase”. This was particularly strenuous as when we were close the top of the spur’s peak, the terrain gradually became steeper. The views at the top were astonishing and the group’s undying spirit made the walk even more enjoyable. In addition, lunch had never tasted better!

In the afternoon, we hiked along an undulating four-wheel drive track which was in stark contrast to the morning’s path as it was significantly easier. The mountainous landscapes were beautiful to look at while hiking to the campsite and made all the hard work from the morning worthwhile.

The Camp Creek Campsite was fairly remote, with no toilet and was a great place to hide from the wind as we were protected by Mount Speculation. It was dark when we cooked dinner but it was one of the highlights of the day because we all sat in a circle, talking, and absorbing the heat from the trangias. Whilst tiring, Day 2 was again a positive experience.

The next day was my favourite day out of the four. After waking up and setting off, we climbed Mount Speculation and had a 360 degree view of the Alpine National Park. The views were the best I had seen and we took many photos. Little did I know what views we would encounter over the duration of the day.

We climbed over many peaks and saddles and the scenery just kept getting better and better. Once we reached the Crosscut Saw, I was amazed at how breathtaking it was and just how many mountains I could see across to the horizon. The highest elevation we reached was 1700 metres and we spent most of the day up around this elevation.

My favourite part of Day 3’s hike was walking along a spur when the sun was coming down because the surroundings were just incredible, the temperature was perfect and the hike was entertaining due to the optimistic and amusing people in the group. I was surprised at their constant positivity and encouragement and this is one of the reasons I will always remember this hike. This hike was different from others I have done because everyone wanted to be there and liked the outdoors. We were all keen to give this hike a go and achieve our own personal goals. We eventually reached the Macalister Springs Campsite and settled down for the night.

After a very early start due to a long drive back home, the group set off to Mount Howitt and Howitt Spur so that we could reach the bus at a reasonable time. We decided the night before that we would begin hiking early (6.00 am) and eat breakfast on Mount Howitt Peak to save time. It was incredibly windy on Mount Howitt and several of us hid under the emergency shelter for protection. Hiking was also very difficult as we had one side facing the wind, but I found the weather exciting and refreshing.

After breakfast, we made our way down the mountain and the very steep spur. We walked 14kms to reach the bus. It felt strange sitting down after hiking for so long but it also felt good to do nothing for a few hours. We had lunch at the park in Mirimbah at the base of Mount Buller and snacks at Yea, but we spent most of the afternoon driving back to Tintern. Once reaching school, we packed up and organised the group equipment, returned any borrowed items to the outdoor education centre and left to go home.

I am very glad I decided to do the Mount Speculation, Crosscut Saw and Mount Howitt hike. It was a great experience and gave me the opportunity to meet new people outside of my year level. I also challenged myself physically as I had to walk on more difficult terrain for longer distances. I will use this experience for my Practice Adventurous Journey for my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and I encourage others who are thinking of doing their Silver Award to do the similar hike that will take place in the September school holidays.

Natalie in Year 10

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