Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
September 2018
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Cape Pillar hike

The June long weekend brings with it the opportunity for extended Scouty activities, and this time two of the older Scouts had organised their Adventurer level hike down to Cape Pillar. It has been a while between hikes for me and the last month or so has been ridiculously meeting-infested and so my fitness level was somewhat below par but my need for the outdoors was high.

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Day one held promise of sunshine when we arrived at Fortescue Bay (seen above), but ended up bringing a sequence of sudden severe showers, which dampened our enthusiasm and enticed an entire army of leeches into attack mode with bloody consequences. The Scouts were given a head start while a parent and I stalked them at a reasonable distance, catching up with them at various points to see how they were going. They started to tire towards the end (this was the first major hike for most of them, and one was quite young), and so it was heading for the early winter dusk by the time we arrived at Hurricane Heath in search of a campsite. The strong winds and gathering gloom meant that we were very relieved once we’d found a sheltered place to camp at the aptly named Perdition Ponds. It wasn’t until the light of next morning that we realised that this site is only about 30 metres from the edge of  some very dramatic cliffs (see photo below, taken on our return journey the following day as we climbed back up onto Hurricane Heath; our campsite was in the sandy spot between the pond and the cliffs, and there are two very tiny figures just to the left of the right-hand end of the pond on the far side to give you a sense of scale).

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On day two — with everyone feeling much chirpier — we left most of our gear at Perdition Ponds and made our way out to the end of Cape Pillar, where the views of the cliffs, Tasman Island and other landmarks are very dramatic. The weather had improved although unfortunately the light was a bit flat for really good photographs. The first photo below shows Tasman Island, and the jagged narrow cliff at the edge of the mainland is called “The Blade” (of which more anon). The lighthouse on Tasman Island is no longer manned, but the lighthouse keepers’ houses are still there and you can see the remains of the cableway used to haul material from the most implausible of landing places.

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The sun did manage to sneak through the clouds from time to time, creating interesting effects on the water.

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The next photo shows Cape Hauy to our north-east, with sunlight providing some nice contrasts.

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Out at the Blade, after a group photo overlooking the west-side cliffs to our north, most of us ventured to its summit. It’s a little bit “airy”, but the views are quite spectacular. To give you a sense of scale, the second photo below shows the view from further south, with someone in a fluoro top climbing the ridge line. After returning from the Blade our attempt to continue south to the Chasm was halted when the track became a little rough and nervy and we started to run out of time.

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Back at Perdition Ponds, the Scouts finished packing up and headed up onto Hurricane Heath to make their way back to Bare Knoll campsite. They made reasonable time, and the leeches remained in hiding … although later that evening, when we’d set up camp and were having dinner, a stealth ninja possum mounted several raids on our campsite and wouldn’t be discouraged.

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Our final day dawned cool and the clouds started to clear, leaving us a nice easy walk mostly in the sunshine to get back to Fortescue Bay (having decided that the longer route around Mt Fortescue was going to be just a bit much for most of the expeditioners). There were banksias still in flower despite it being winter, and there was a pretty cool tree arched across the track. We arrived back around lunchtime, with the Scouts feeling a good sense of accomplishment after their 33km trip.

Come to think of it, I did too!

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