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The Acropolis

The Acropolis

There’s a swarm of insects buzzing around my head – not just mosquitoes, but sandflies, bees and other flying bugs I can’t identify – and they’re very persistently staying there despite all the insect repellent I splattered on myself. Still, it could be worse. “My” rock is high enough off the ground that I’m not particularly worried about snakes, and while there are a few skinks scurrying about, they’re shy and fairly harmless. Ants are few and far in between, and it’s not really a tick or spider sort of terrain. All in all, it’s not a bad place to sit and wait.

Why am I on a rock in the first place? Well, to backtrack, we spent yesterday making our way to Pine Valley Hut as planned. My Fitbit tracked a distance of a little over 17km from Echo Point – which seems more or less accurate – and while the first 12km or so went smoothly, I managed to twist my ankle a little after the Pine Valley junction and spent the last 3h or so limping along at a snail’s pace. We still made it quite a while before dark, but climbing the Acropolis the very next day didn’t seem like the wisest of choices, so I decided to accompany Bruno to the foot of the climb and wait for him to make a trip up to the summit.

Carved steps

It proved to be a good walk from Pine Valley nonetheless – flat at first, but soon winding upwards over a narrow and moderately steep trail of tangled roots, rocks and the occasional log. Compared to the Overland, it definitely felt more as though we were pushing our way through bushes and trees rather than moving along well-trod paths. It wasn’t as muddy or slippery as I initially feared, though. The clear weather from the past two days can probably be thanked for that – I’m not sure I’d have felt too comfortable doing the same hike in heavy rain.

The track continued for half an hour or so before opening up to a bit of a clearing, where we crossed a few planks and made our way to another uphill section. The vegetation became sparser and bore the distinct appearance of plants we typically find in more exposed terrain. We could see the Acropolis rising above us, as well as some of the other mountains in the Du Cane range. There didn’t appear to be many rest stops up ahead, so I found myself a rock and Bruno left me with our daypack as he continued onwards.

Clearing before the Acropolis climb

He’s been gone now for perhaps twenty minutes, and by this stage, the insects have calmed down a little too. (I’ve discovered that if I’m careful not to move much, a few dozen of them just perch on me rather than flying madly around me.) It’s a gorgeous day for a climb – clear blue skies with nary a cloud in sight – and it’s also by far the best weather we’ve had since we arrived in Tasmania. I imagine he’s making good progress, but I can’t seem to find him even with his zoom lens and extension tube so he’s probably on a face not visible from where I sit. It seems as good a time as any to munch on almonds and catch up on some blog entries.

(I’ll segue over to Bruno now, since he actually did the climb. I pick back up further below.)

Bruno's path (before I lost sight of him)

Bruno:

No es la primera vez que dejo “estacionada” a Angel mientras apuro el paso para explorar secciones de las caminatas que de otra forma nos sería difícil hacerlo a los dos; ya sea por estar con tiempo limitado, o por prudencia. En este caso, la torcedura de tobillo que Angel había tenido el día anterior nos invitó a ser cautelosos, y ella tuvo la gentileza de acompañarme hasta la base de la relativamente corta subida a la Acrópolis (se le llama así a esta montaña tasmánica debido a las dramáticas formaciones rocosas de dolerita cerca de la cima, que parecen pilares de un templo griego) y esperarme hasta que volviese. Por lo mismo apuré el paso y, armado nada más que con mi cámara, pude hasta trotar sin problemas cuando la superficie lo permitía. Desde la base de la montaña, las estimaciones de tiempo para los caminantes varían desde dos a cuatro horas; Angel me iba a esperar por tres antes de comenzar a descender, por lo que tenía que asegurarme de subir, tomar fotos y bajar antes de ese límite de tiempo.

Si bien la subida constaba principalmente de acarreos de roca grande y firme, la calidad ígnea de este tipo de roca le da un agarre mucho más sólido y permite un poco más de velocidad. Sin embargo, en la sección final había que subir por una sección bastante vertical, escalando unas tres o cuatro rocas bastante grandes antes de acceder a la cresta de la montaña. Una vez escalada, he de admitir que sentí mucho respeto por todos los padres que llevan a sus niños a la cumbre (vimos unos cuantos ya bajando mientras nosotros íbamos hacia la montaña).

Acropolis - the climb

Salté de roca en roca hasta llegar a la cumbre, saqué un par de fotos del paisaje simplemente sobrecogedor, conversé un par de palabras con el guardaparques que también estaba ahí, y comencé el camino hacia abajo. Esta vez lo tuve que hacer un poco más lento, pues las rodillas me estaban reclamando por la falta de práctica en este tipo de terreno.

Un breve rato después, ya estaba con Angel a la vista. El tiempo total que demoré fue una hora y media, y las increíbles vistas que ofreció el buen tiempo hicieron que la subida valiera totalmente la pena. Se puede apreciar aquí la vista panorámica desde la cima.

View from the Acropolis

Angel:

Well, that only took him an hour and a bit. I was actually in the middle of fiddling with the lens to try to spot him in the distant mountaintop when I glanced around and found him next to me instead. (He was quite pleased with himself.) Judging by his descriptions, it would have taken me twice that time just to climb up on my injured ankle – I’d still like to do it some day, but preferably in a healthy state. As it stood, we made our way back down quite a leisurely pace and stopped for a few snapshots along the way.

I will finish off by pimping the panorama which Bruno took from the summit, where you can see the Du Cane Range rising majestically under crystal blue skies.

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