Although a cold change (including snow) was predicted for mid afternoon, the day was gloriously cool clear and sunny at 10.30am when we gathered and set out.
The original plan had been to do an anticlockwise loop, along to Junction Cabin and up to The Chalet (in consideration of doing the steepest section uphill for those with dodgy knees). This would have taken almost 5 hours. Some of us did this loop a few years ago.
Given the weather prediction, we decided to do the loop clockwise, in case the nasty weather came over earlier than predicted. This would give us options to shorten the walk if necessary, while still making sure we experienced the Organ Pipes Track.
So it was first up the Pinnacle Track and then a right turn onto the Organ Pipes Track. The new trackwork was excellent in most places, some lovely stonework has been done to stabilise the path and to enhance some dear little waterfalls. We'd had some wet weather recently and some parts of the track were a bit slushy as a result, but the path was heaps more comfortable than last time we walked it. There was some residual snow on the track - yay!!
The track was quite busy, with several family groups as well as visitors to the state enjoying the day.
Birds spotted: Scarlet Robin, Olive Whistler.
The Organ Pipes looming over our heads were still pristine and majestic. Of course we all agreed that pylons, cables and flying cars over the front of them would be bloody ugly.
Just beyond the Organ Pipes we came across a clear rocky area with superb views over the city and the Derwent. It was an enticing spot to stop for lunch. Bathed in sunshine and with calm clear air, we rested for 20 minutes to enjoy our sandwiches and drinks, and of course to chat.
Back on track, we appreciated some more of the newly solid and level trackworks. By the time we reached The Chalet the wind was picking up and darkening clouds were scudding across quite quickly. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour. To shorten the walk we would walk down the road to the Lower Sawmill Track and switch down that way to the Lenah Valley Track. That was probably just as well - as we walked past the start of Hunters Track there was a sign up saying it was closed at some point along there.
The walk down the road wasn't too bad. Drivers heading up to experience a bit of snow were fairly polite, although we did feel forced to the side a bit. Di lost concentration at one point, slipping on the loose gravel on the side and falling on her knee (thanks Caroline for suggesting the ice pack, I think that helped a lot).
It was a relief to switch onto the Lower Sawmill Track, a pleasant change from the road, but a fairly steep downhill section for those of us with tender knees.
At the Lenah Valley Track, we took a few moments to enjoy the view at Sphinx Rock, once again counting our blessings at living in such a beautiful place and with wild areas so accessible.
Then it was an easy stroll back to The Springs, where Council staff were in the process of closing the road to uphill traffic. We tested out the Lost Freight coffee kart. The coffee was nice, the ceramic mugs a nice touch (especially for those who had forgotten their keepcups, whoops). Sadly the staff lost points due to somewhat shambolic service - luckily we all eventually ended up with something like what we had ordered.
The relaxed post-walk conversation is often the best part of the walk, but a bit after 2pm we felt the first shower sprinkles and realised it was time to go. We made it back to the cars just before the shower turned to heavy (and very cold!) rain. Excellent timing, well done team!
The total walk time today was a bit over 3.5 hours, including the essential lunch and coffee stops.