Our arduous hike in the rain the previous day ensured a great night’s sleep for me on the second floor of the Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut. There was about a dozen hikers, including our group of 7 (we advised JN and M to go onto the Waterfall Valley hut rather than doing the treacherous trail we did) that lined up our sleeping bags side by side like one big happy family to spend the cold night together. We woke up earlier than we intended (ah-hem, noisy lady who started packing her things up right next to us at 6AM and continued for an hour!) and groggily wished everyone a very happy New Year. It was January 1, 2013.
I found out after I finished the hike why the place we stayed on New Year’s Eve was called “Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut.” In 1965, a student (13 year old David Kilvert) and a teacher (Ewan Scott) died in a blizzard by Lake Rodway and the school community built this hut in their memory to make sure there is a safe shelter for future hikers. We were certainly grateful to stay overnight in this cozy bi-level structure. This was my first experience sleeping in a hut with fellow bushwalkers, cooking my own dinner and breakfast, familiarizing myself with drop-toilets, watching out for leeches, etc, and everything was new and fun to me. While having breakfast we spoke to an European couple who had a bottle of wine and other “non-hiking friendly” items with them. We found out they were only there for a day or two, not needing to carry 7 days worth of food like us. Another couple was walking out of the park that morning but the group of three ladies (with Ms. Noise) was heading the same direction as we were.
As we were getting ready to leave I could see a patch of blue sky in the distance but I mentally prepared myself to have another cold and wet day. We had a pretty decent walk ahead of us (5+ hours) with a stop at the Waterfall Valley hut to pick up JN and M on the way. I have no photos of us going from the Scott-Kilvert hut to the top of the ridge because all of my energy and focus was on the climb. It. Was. Hard.
It was so cold and gusty at the top we couldn’t pause for a break. I had to practically hold on to A to keep steady; both of us had a flashback to the arctic winds on the glaciers in Patagonia.
I can spot the hut there…
We had a very happy reunion and a quick lunch inside. We learned that there were close to 25 people at the Waterfall Valley hut the night before and the next hut at Windermere was very small (capacity ~16). Of course everyone was long gone by the time we arrived at Waterfall Valley so we were sure some of us would have to tent out in the cold that night. But we brushed that thought aside and started to walk again. We had at least another 3 hours before we were going to see Windermere.
We stopped every now and then to take in the scenery.
Walking from Waterfalls Valley to Windemere was a piece of cake compared to what we’d already done. There were duckboards laid out on the trail to make the hike even easier.
And finally! Windermere!!! I made it there in 2 hours and 45 minutes from Waterfall Valley AND I saw my first wallaby.
The hut had just two bunk beds left when S, M, and I arrived. We spread our stuff out to make sure our group could sleep inside; we squeezed in 4 on the bottom and 4 on top, with M sleeping on the floor. The group of three ladies who arrived after us were not pleased that we took the last two bunks. We were branded as “the Naughty Nine” that evening for “reserving” our space in the hut by the three ladies and that reputation preceded us for days.
On my way to the toilet, I found this guy on the side of the path just look right at me. I was too afraid to pass him by so I returned to the hut. J saw a large wombat and showed me the photo she took. That wombat looked like a brown bear! Thank goodness I didn’t run into a giant wombat and I’m sure this wallaby was harmless, but I was not used to seeing marsupials in the wild yet.
Since there is no electricity in the huts everyone cooked and ate dinner while there was still light outside, and turned in when the sun went down. We tried to stay up a bit but were in our sleeping bags by 9PM. I knew that the next leg of the hike was going to cover the longest distance of our trip, 17km (~11 miles) but not fully understanding what waited for me ahead, I went to sleep totally oblivious and happy.