Snow camping trip on Mt Stirling and Craig's Hut, Victoria

My first snow camp... It was the coldest I've ever felt, I swear the bones in my skeleton were frozen. I think it dropped to -6C with wind chill it was more like -18C. When cooking, I burnt my fingernail on my thumb not realising that the Trangia stove was alight.
Fresh snow on the trail.
This trip was from Mt Stirling to Craig's hut via the Clear Hills track. Craig's hut was the set for the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River
Craig's hut.
This was the second snow camping trip I did with the Melbourne Nordic ski club and indeed that I have done at any time. Camping with a good group of people in a famous location in the Victorian high country from sun to high winds. 
Tents pitched, time for a chat.
Chill: it was the coldest I've ever felt, I think it dropped to -6C with the wind it was more like -18C. When cooking, I burnt my fingernail on my thumb not realising the stove was alight !  This is nature throwing the good and bad at me and I am in it, I am hooked and want more.
It is so exhilarating to awaken to the sun beaning down on your tent, admire the beauty and expanse of the hills, snow laden trees and the azure sky: then quickly snuggle back into the sleeping bag! The group leaders and others are very skilled, providing many pointers and help when needed, assuring good enjoyable weekends. 
admiring views.
5:30am. who created such an hour ? Any normal red blooded young male would be busily recovering from the previous night's booze up. The morning was grey with rain laden clouds, adding to that unwillingness to do anything. I managed to arrive at Richard's place at 6:00am as arranged, only to find that Richard had succumbed to the very thoughts I had for the day's beginning. So, we left an hour and a half later for Mt Stirling and also delayed further picking up Robert, Richard's brother.
camp fire.
Choosing to travel via the Hume Hwy via Euroa proved to be efficient making for a quick arrival of 2.5 hours. The rest of the party, 9 of us met at much the same time at the telephone box junction day shelter. Some camped overnight and had a fire going.

And up the hill we go ; and up , and up, and........ "only one more rise (encouragement c/o Richard ) ~ and up........ (I learnt the truth of these little statements) and up.......
Yime for a rest break.
I soon discovered my fitness level (which didn't account to much ) and the importance of choosing good equipment for skiing. I hired some skis from E.M. which had loose fittings, loose basket on the stock and were too long for me. So check your gear before leaving the shop and do not accept inadequate equipment, it's your weekend at stake !
jumping on skis.
We reached a hut known as the Geelong Grammar school hut and paused for lunch & recuperation. It was fun entering the hut and playing blind man;s bluff until our eyes adjusted to the light.
Sitting in a hut
After lunch we dropped down the side of the mountain to find camp in a sheltered area. The snow proved to be so dry an packed that it was easy to pitch  the tents.
Richard, seeing the quality and depth of snow, found a good blow deposit on the side of the hill and proceeded to dig a snow cave. With group enthusiasm we had the cave finished in good time. We even attempted an igloo entrance, but somebody got too enthusiastic and dug the door opening before the key was in place.
snow cave sketch.
 Ray & Richard were temporarily submerged in large chunks of snow as a result. We put off any ideas of repairing the igloo and decided against adding the spa bath and billiards room.

Some of us headed to the summit  of mount Stirling to take advantage of the clear weather, and wonderful powder snow. I was even told off by Ray and Sue for damaging the untouched snow on  their intended descent whilst I was ascending !

On the peak, the weather turned foul: whiteout. All that beautiful snow - oh! Coming down was a guessing game of balance and interpretation of the surface conditions.
poor visibility.
Six of us remained on the mountain for an overnight stay. Michael went off to sleep and the rest of us convened in the cave. The evening seminar in the cave proved to be profitable, where we indulged in Richard's fruit cake and Peter's chocolate biscuits ( that required a special excursion to his tent, the temperature now dropped to -4C ) and brewed coffee. Many a tall story of adventure was told by the side of a candle lantern.

I exited the cave and slept in my tent. During the night I awoke thinking it was snowing in the tent. It turns out that the moisture in  my breath was freezing on my sleeping bag and the condensation the tent inner froze. Chill: it was the coldest I've ever felt, I swear the bones in my skeleton were frozen. , I think it dropped to -6C with wind chill it was more like  -18C. When cooking, I burnt my fingernail on my thumb not realising the stove was alight !

The sunrise was breathtaking, and what a beauty to awaken to. It was still very cold, but what the hell, such brightness was not to be wasted. so, we made an early start on the mountain ( that is around 9:00am) and headed for the clear hills track.

The snow was so deep that most of the trees were submerged and we had to traverse around to get to the trail. The trail needed good navigation as it for all intents was gone in many places.
trail almost gone.
 Robert was feeling ill, so he bailed early and returned with Peter. The going was tough and involved many traverses due to the snow laden track and steep inclines.

Arriving at Clear hills was sheer relief and was worth the effort. Such beauty deserves toil. It was a pleasure to behold and the snow was fun to frolic on.
frolic in the snow.
 At Craig's hut (built for the Man from Snowy river film) we signed the visitor's book and added our story to the tales.

After skating around and soaking in the beauty of this place it seemed unfair to have to return.
open field.
Time is short and duties of work etc call all of us. And.... what an effort it was to make the ascent back ! It took a good amount of physical and personal effort to make it, but make it I did.
time to leave.

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