And after that brief interlude, back to the adventure ...
When we left Bright it was overcast. It had rained the night before heavily, but even so it didn't look like we would get much rain and the threat of the winds over the mountain the next day made us grateful to get ahead of the worst of it.
It was about 10am when we left, our destination that day was to be Lakes Entrance.
Here's the map
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As we were leaving Bright I remember saying to Terry, "I hope that the mountain I can see ahead of us with it's head in the clouds isn't Mt Hotham." That's the mountain we were to cross over.
We turned up onto the road that leads to Mt Hotham and we started to get into the tight corners straight away. And it wasn't long before we got a little bit of rain too.
It stopped though, and I was happily navigating my way the first real mountain twisties that I had ever encountered. It wasn't as bad as I thought, we were going up hill and I don't mind tight bends up hill. I feel like I have more control than when they are down hill.
Then the rain started again, and we could see now that this was indeed the mountain that had it's head firmly buried in the clouds. Visibility was becoming worse.
A couple of other things were noticed, first the trees had become slowly scarcer and spindlier until they were nothing but blackened, stunted branches hugging the side of the mountain. The view would have been stunning from here if only we could have seen more than a few feet ahead.
Then Terry said .. "That's not rain .. that's sleet!" my visor had to go up not long after that because of the fogging up, and I realised that it wasn't just on the inside that I was misting up, the sleet was sticking to the outside of it too, I only opened it a crack to see through but that sleet still managed to get my cheeks and eyes and it hurt!
The other thing we'd noticed was the bright yellow and red stripped poles along the side of the road, and the sign that said "stay to the right of the snow poles" At first I didn't really understand that, once the visibility got bad I was glad of them, and now I understand what it must be like trying to get up this road once the snow has covered the road completely. Great idea.
We were crawling along at only about 20 or 30km/h by now, and I was wishing so hard for somewhere to pull over that it was almost like a dream when I came up a rise to see a hulking shadow to my left, that must be a building!
That's it, the side of the road was wide enough, I couldn't care less, for once, that we were parking the bikes on loose pebbles that were going to slide all over the place under my wheels and the stand. We stopped!! We jumped off the bikes and ran for the shelter of the locked tight building beside us. We took shelter where we found it and were grateful!
We were both freezing.
But strangely happy
and I for one was excited too ... this was snow!!!
Once the sleet stopped and the soft little flakes of snow started falling, the visibility got a bit better. We could see the sign on the building across the road, and it said 'refuge'. We headed straight over and were immensely happy to find an open door into warmth. And toilets with hand blowers to warm our frozen fingers.
At this stage we had no idea what we were going to do now, it was just nice to find somewhere out of the elements. As we were poking around another couple walked into the building. They were there for some kind of meeting or something but kindly offered to escort us up the road a bit to the two ski lodges that were open. Yay, we quickly dragged on our cold wet gear and jumped on the bikes. I was in front and could just see the tail lights of the 4WD in front of us, they went slowly, and it was only about 5 km's up the road before they turned into the driveway for the first lodgings. We thanked them for the millionth time, I cant express how grateful we were for their kindness.
And that was the last photo taken by the GoPro as we pulled into the parking area. Yep it was really snowing now.
By the time we got inside we'd decided that we could give Lakes Entrance a miss and just stay the night in a ski lodge for something different. All we wanted was somewhere warm to snuggle for the next 10 hours, and a hot shower!!
Roxy did look pretty dressed all in white, but by the time we'd booked in to the room and come back for our luggage it had started to rain as well. The snow was melting almost as soon as it hit the ground. it continued to snow for a couple of hours then it turned super cold with the rain. We didn't mind cause we had luxurious warmth all around us for the rest of the day.
It was a split level affair with the living part upstairs and the bedroom downstairs.
And great views .. when you could see them.
A break in the clouds that lasted maybe 10 minutes.
We didn't care, we had our warmers.
Now do you remember the whole reason this adventure started at the beginning of the day. We'd decided to beat the weather right .. well no one had said anything about snow! And now the weather bureau was telling us that yep those winds were still going to hit Mt Hotham the next day with a vengeance. We'd wait and see what it was like in the morning, so we slept like babes in the woods, or is that perched on the mountain tops. And woke early the next morning to ...
.. winds that were threatening to tear the whole place down. According to BOM the gusts were up to 80km/h, that was fast enough to make me think about being blown over the sides of roads and down the cliffs lining this mountain. We stayed put for another day. It was relaxing :)