In crafting a small section of the 13-day Grampians Peaks Trail into a 3-day loop, VicParks included the official trail between The Pinnacle and Mt Rosea as the first two days, but today’s walk now takes us off the scenic, well-graded trail and onto fire trails whose only purpose is getting us back to Halls Gap where we begun. Our final day is pretty uneventful as a result, but the weather is fantastic and we’re out in the bush, so it’s still impossible to complain.
Trail stats: Borough Huts to Halls Gap
Elevation gain: 600m
Trail time: 3hrs
Highlights: hiking above Lake Bellfield; relatively short walk back to Halls Gap, completing the loop and stage 1 of the Grampians Peaks Trail
Despite plans to wake up early and hit the trail by 9am on our final morning, Nicole and I sleep in again, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and don’t actually get out of camp until closer to 11. We were just discussing last night how the trail must be entirely flat today, since we’ve done a lot of climbing and descedning over the last two days and now there’s nowhere to go but straight ahead to Halls Gap along Lake Bellfield. Famous last words.
Our morning begins on a flat, sandy trail that’s really more of a 4WD track. The ruts and sand are slightly irritating, but it’s just a leisurely stroll at this stage, so we don’t dwell too much on it. We keep waiting to pop out of the trees for what I’ve assumed is going to be a gentle walk along the lakeshore, but curiously, we don’t seem to be turning towards the lake.
There are a few incredibly steep hills, challenging considering all of the sand on the trail, but still not cause for concern. It’s only when we turn a bend and see our trail rising up a 45° incline that we really wonder what’s going on…
For the next couple hours, we sweat up 4WD tracks so steep that I’m constantly slipping and genuinely concerned about falling backwards down the hill, only to descend along an equally steep section that actually does result in falling a few times. I don’t mind a challenging climb up a mountain or to a spectacular viewpoint, when there’s some sort of purpose for the ascent, but this is entirely pointless. We break our backs going up only to break our knees coming down 10 minutes later.
All the while, we can see flecks of turquoise peeking faintly through the trees, but we never do get that view of the lake I’d been hoping for. We’re either several hundred metres above the lakeshore and completely blocked by trees or level with the lake and blocked by dirt. It feels a bit cruel, honestly.
The only good news is that we pop off of the Terraces Fireline sooner than expected and right onto the road, just 15min from Halls Gap. All the frustration of the morning’s walk is long forgotten as we stroll to our car in the midday sun, bodies slightly tired but feeling very charged by a weekend on the Grampians Peaks Trail.