Sunday 20 December 2015

Games at Little Throne

Let’s start in the middle. It’s day two of a three day pre-Christmas walk. Tim and I have set off with few expectations, walking to an area neither of us knew and of which we’d heard little. It’s just good to be out in the bush, and on a walk that will allow Tim to test out his injured shoulder without too much risk or effort.

[View from the campsite towards Middle Lake] 
In a case of worst-laid plans going aright, we’d discovered a delightful campsite, sheltered in a stand of pencil pines, just a short walk from a large lake. We’ve had a peaceful night and a lazy morning, and have wandered around the eastern rim of Middle Lake to the shore of Little Throne Lake. Of the hundreds of lakes that dot this part of the plateau, these two are among just a handful with names. The latter lake is named after the humble but conspicuous crag that sits above it: Little Throne.

[Tim spies Little Throne (left back) from Blue Peak] 
And here the games begin. Little Throne Lake has many spiral arms, making crow-flight walking impossible. We check our map; conjecture about possible short cuts; look at short wades that might get us to our destination more quickly. But we end up surrendering to its convoluted shore line, content to take in the ever-changing scene.

At one point we pause to check out a wedge-tailed eagle that’s busy doing the same to us. She rafts on the warm air; circles with a slight tilt of a few feathers; sails towards us then away again: all the while keeping her head still and her eyes at least half on us.

[Broken reed patterns at the outlet of Little Throne Lake] 
A corner or three later we’re entranced by rafts of wind and wave blown reeds that have accumulated at the lake’s outlet. We invoke Van Gogh, Mondrian and other abstract artists. But which of them could have created this incredible work, its pieces not only intricately and artfully stacked, but also undulating due to the water flow beneath them? After several minutes of enchantment we reluctantly depart for the summit of Little Throne the peak.

The previous night we’d spied this knob from the summit of Blue Peak. While it’s lower than the surrounding peaks, its bluffy shape and cleft, gun-sight summit had invited further exploration. And so here we are, ascending through low scrub, on a sporadically cairned route, to the top of Little Throne.

The games continue when we find that there are three contending summits. Fortunately it doesn’t take us long to ascend all three, and then we settle down to lunch with a grandstand view. All around are landmarks that are familiar – the distant Walls of Jerusalem; the nearer Forty Lakes Peak; even our campsite beneath Blue Peak – as well as lakes that are largely unknown to us. Despite its relative lack of elevation, our little throne could just as easily be named Hundred Lakes Peak. I count more than forty just to the west. The count to the east would exceed that easily.

[Panorama west from Little Throne, over Little Throne Lake] 
Tim and I seem to have remarkably similar views on many things. We often come out with the same thought/joke/response at exactly the same time. This has led some believe that we were once joined at the hip. We respond, quite reasonably, that this would have made life remarkably difficult for our mother, given we were born five years apart! Nonetheless, when we come to our final game of choosing where we’ll go after lunch, it proves a short one. We simultaneously express the same preference for walking back around the far (western) side of Little Throne Lake. And so we do.

[Looking north to Blue Peak over an unnamed lake] 
Although it’s a much longer route, the journey back to our tent takes almost the same time as our journey out. We arrive back just in time to get inside the tent before the rain gets heavy. I snooze while Tim meditates (see, we’re not identical!) and the rain stops in plenty of time for cooking.

Afterwards we have another chance to photograph sunset over our unnamed lake, before heading back to the tent to discuss gratefulness. Because whoever has been rolling the dice for this walk, we’re very grateful. Our Blue Peaks/Little Throne sojourn has hugely exceeded our expectations. Who said it can't be all fun and games?

[Sunset from our campsite]

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