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Stirling Ridge Walk - Day 3

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The Third Arrow to Bluff Knoll


Since we still had a considerable distance to cover, the group set off with a renewed sense of urgency at first light. It took just over 10 minutes to reach the second arrow and we rounded the top and descended it without any issues. I was somewhat surprised by how much easier it was compared to the third arrow. The trail was clear, the incline gradual, and there were no obstacles that needed to be overcome.

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The ascent up to the first arrow was also surprisingly straightforward, the descent on the other hand was a different matter entirely. The route that we had to take dropped down the right side of the arrow shortly after the summit and then proceeded to edge its way back up the North-West pinnacle after passing the junction that lead down to the escape track to the North Mirlpunda track. Things became a little tricky as low clouds began to descend upon us, greatly limiting our visibility. The route that we were trying to follow ultimately ended up leading us to a sheer ridge that seemed insurmountable, and as we reached the edge, we noticed the presence of a rope that had been tied in as an anchor point for roped-descents. After spending some time mulling over our options, we decided that the best choice we had would be to track back along the route from where we came, and instead zig-zag and drop down the side of the arrow to the path that flanked the base on the right (Northern) side. This path ended up bringing us to the base of the sheer ridge that we had been unable to pass earlier.

The route carried us through a narrow cleft that split the rock castle right down the middle. A short descent down to the sheoak (Allocasuarina sp.) col before the ascent to Isongerup brought us to another clearing that could have been used as a camp site. After passing through the sheoaks, the ascent up to the peak of Isongerup North became much easier as the shrubbery began to open up, leaving us with some astounding views of the arrows that we had left behind us.

The view of Mirlpunda

The view of Mirlpunda (the arrows) looking West.


Isongerup


At the peak of Isongerup North, the path veered South and made its way towards the main peak of Isongerup. Quartz veins snaked their way along the rock as we walked by and they reminded me of the quartz dike that makes up the Tabur range back in Malaysia. There were also clumps of frail, whispy-looking, epiphytic air plants (Tillandsia spp.) that were scattered around, often amongst kangaroo (Macropus sp.) droppings.

Isongerup Peak

The peak of Isongerup (elevation : 994m) with the distinct anvil shape of Bluff Knoll towards to East.

Next : Day 03 - The Third Arrow to Bluff Knoll (Part 2)

Stirling Ridge Walk Index

Stirling Ridge Walk Index

After the peak of Isongerup South, the path continued South-West and descended down the hill. The terrain gradually changed from sparse plants and mud, to low-lying knee-high shrubbery, and finally to thickets of taller Eucalypts (Family: Myrtaceae). The path diverged once again with one branch heading left up the short walk to the peak of Moongoongoonderup Hill (elevation : 732m) and the other continuing North-West along the ridge. The clearing at the junction had flat ground that was spacious enough for a decent campsite.

The path continued along up and past a rocky ledge and on towards more Eucalypt thickets as it rounded the hill. There was another clearing for a campsite on the saddle and it was roughly around this point when we somehow managed to veer off the track far enough that we had to resort to a bit of unpleasant bush-bashing in order to get back to where the track was supposed to be. The escape route that joins the North Isongerup track veers off Northwards as this path rounds the next hill.

Looking to Bluff Knoll

As the trail veered South-West and began to descend the hill once again, I got the impression that this stage of the hike was having an enervating effect on the group. The long 2.5 km trudge from the base of Isongerup South through mostly nondescript terrain was probably to be blamed although I personally was left a little despondent by the wide swath that we had likely carved through the thicket moments earlier as I try my best to leave as little a trace of my presence as possible. Just as ennui began to set in, the trail once again began to ascend up towards East peak and the views that opened up seemed to bring a much needed feeling of rejuvenation to the group.

From East Peak


East Peak


East Peak was made up of several rocky terraces but upon rounding the peak, a dense white-out descended upon the group leaving us with a visibility of only several metres. We trudged on nonetheless making our way towards the chasm that separates East Bluff and Bluff Knoll. At one point, the long diagonal silhouette of Bluff Knoll materialised in the mist ahead of us, completely catching me unawares. Just moments after that we reached the peak. This all happened so unexpectedly that the entire situation felt somewhat anti-climatic. The glorious views and sunset that I had been looking forward to were utterly obscured by the white-out leaving us with no option but to carry on with the 3km walk down to the Bluff Knoll carpark.

Towards the end (and is always the case at the end of a good hike), I felt myself becoming a little lugubrious as thoughts of having to return to 'civilisation' entered my head. I suppose thoughts of the next hike will just have keep me going!

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Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

3a

3a

 The information from the Suunto Ambit for this trek can be found on my Movescount Page

For those who also have a Suunto GPS device, the entire route for the Stirling Ridge Walk can be found below :

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