This morning was vastly different from yesterday. It felt extremely cold and we all started out rugged up (I think it was more to do with the cold wind than the temperature itself). Today’s walk would take us from Waterfall Valley to our next campground at Lake Windermere. Today’s walk would be relatively easy compared to yesterday being close to flat for the whole day and only a distance of 7.8km. We planned to take a side trip today to Lake Will (an extra 3km) and we also planned (well me anyway) to take a dip in Lake Windermere which was challenge 3 of this trip. This was not an inviting thought at the moment. The Ranger had told us the previous evening that the water temp was 11 degrees Celsius (refer day ones post) and that there was an island there only a short swim called ‘Beer Island’ that had a surprise on it (intriguing). The altitude we would be walking at today would be all above 1000m. This whole area was on a plateau where glaciers had once carved the land smooth and now was a place of many lakes of all different sizes.
We set out on today’s walk and I started to notice pain on the outside of my left knee. Simon told me this was just Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) which is painful but not critical. This proved to gradually get worse over the day where, especially if I stopped and cooled down, proved extremely painful to start moving again.
We walked on through the morning and came to the junction that would take us to Lake Will. This was extremely exposed and freezing cold. We wrapped our packs up securely against the Ravens and Carrawongs and made our way down to Lake Will. Lake Will of coarse is an easy boardwalk of 1.5km but the sign also said Innes Falls which was a further 1.5km, this we had to see.
We walked reasonably quickly down to a small beach at Lake Will that was overshadowed by Barn Bluff, this looked like it would be a good place to have a swim (maybe in the middle of Summer). We relaxed here for a little bit taking in the breathtaking views, this little beach was out of the wind too so felt almost warm. We set out from here to Innes Falls, now I was intrigued, we had a pretty good view of the entire lake (the landscape was quite flat) and I couldn’t imagine where there could possibly be a waterfall. This walk was tough. There wasn’t really a well marked track and it was through heavy vegetation and mud so slow going. We felt like we had been walking for hours and I still couldn’t see any type of escarpment that would be waterfall worthy, had we missed it, I started to feel like giving up when Sam suggested that maybe the lake was at the top of the waterfall not the bottom (the penny dropped). We soon got to a place where we could hear the waterfall and it suddenly appeared. It was actually quite magnificent and we chilled out here for a while just taking it all in.
We returned an hour our so later to find our bags still in one piece and continued on our journey towards Lake Windermere. As you approach the lake it appears like it is in sort of a valley which it essentially is on top of a mountain plateau. Believe it or not the day actually started to warm up and when we arrived at our destination in the early afternoon the lake almost looked inviting. There is a section about 500m back from the hut and camping area that had a little beach, north facing and of coarse the infamous ‘Beer Island’ a short swim out. I almost stripped down and jumped in there and then to get my swim over and done with but decided it could wait until after we made camp.
The Hut here was set among the tree line shore, and there were heaps of tent areas overlooking the Lake. The afternoon was warm so we decided to set up our tents instead of using the hut tonight. Once we had stopped and started to cool down the swim in the lake was looking less and less inviting. I said to the others ‘now our never’ and we all walked back down to the swimming area for our arctic swim. I spent the whole walk down mentally preparing myself while the others hoped I would give in on this madness so we could all go back to the safety of our warm clothes. No way man, I was committed. There was no big heroic dive into this water, we made a pact that the first in would not crash tackle or splash the others, or run the risk of receive a beating later on. I gingerly walked in inch by inch and then finally did the drop in to my neck and finally my head. Then I just sat there getting my breath and watching Sam and Simon doing the same, happy in the knowledge that my pain was over. We probably stayed in the water for about 10 min and Sam being the big super hero decided to swim out to Beer Island (it was only about 20m but that is seriously a good feat). No beers unfortunately but plenty of biting ants, I took a quick blurry (Yeti like) photo of Sam on the island, for proofs sake, and he quickly returned to the shore. We returned to camp stoked that we had accomplished this challenge and proceeded to dress in every bit of warm clothing we had. Later that evening we went for a walk down to the swimming hole again where the wombats were out in force and we watched them go about there business until dusk. That evening was spent in our tents which proved worthy against the cold but (here is some advice) bring some earplugs. Not necessarily to combat the snorers but high tech mattress which sound like plastic shopping bags full of groceries in a bush turkey’s nest (Simon was one of many with these). I was also a bit concerned this evening (as I lay awake to high tech mattresses) the pain in my ITB had progressively got worse during the day to the point where I was limping and we still had 4 days of walking with packs.
Hope you enjoyed today’s journey and we will see you next time for day 3.