So began another year and we found ourselves, once again,
escaping the bustle, crowds and humidity of a Sydney summer for the generally
cooler and drier climes of the lovely Snowies.
Whilst our main base was Jindabyne, the trip was bookended by sleepovers
in Thredbo; firstly with the Duggins, then the Dugans, to wit.
Each year we try to mix the riding up a bit, on top of our
main Jindy staples; Kosi via Charlottes Pass, and outings to Thredbo and back,
the latter including pastries and coffee, and a traverse of the TVT which,
after quite a few passages now, has lost none of its magical charm. Don't waste your bucks on the chairlift, the
TVT is just as good and costs you nothing.
This year’s dabble in adventure was a two day jaunt from
Jindy over the main range to Khancoban, before returning via the sealed Alpine
Way the following day. This of course
required more planning than usual, and some luck. We had to cut our kit down and travel light,
and also needed some good weather. Not
too hot, and not the deluge of last year.
The weather gods smiled, offering a blustery but otherwise perfect
Day one had us rumbling out of Jindy and straight onto the
new singletrack linking the village and the trout hatchery. Once again, some terrific new trails and a
taste of what is to come when they finally link up with the TVT, which should
be completed later this year. We swung
onto the pavement briefly to cross the Thredbo river, before turning off
towards the Jindabyne pump station.
We'd been given a tip from a fellow working in one of the
bike shops that Island Bend could be attained by following a 4wd track, owned
by Snowy Hydro, all the way up the Snowy River from the lake itself. In theory this would eliminate the otherwise
heinous road slog from the river (900 m) up to Rennix pass (1600 m), only to
descend back to Island Bend (1200 m) before continuing to Guthega. He did mention he had an E-mtb at his
disposal when exploring this, and the utility of this became apparent given
some of the nasty pinches we had to tractor over. But the diversion was nonetheless picturesque
and worth a gander, if not a little bit naughty.
From Island bend we were back on sealed road briefly,
following the Snowy River to Guthega power station, where the real climb over
the main range begins. Whilst the first
km was a bit nasty, the rest of the climb up to Schlink Pass and our high point
for the day (smack on 1800 m) was actually quite pleasant, although the horse
flies that hang out at altitude prevented us enjoying being stationary for too
long. With a few snaps under the belt we
were soon cruising at 40 km/hr down to the first of a few alpine huts we'd
visit. Lunch was enjoyed inside the
fly-free zone aptly named the Schlink Hilton.
Shortly after, more high speed cruising came to a shuddering halt at the
Valentine's Trail turnoff. Smooth gravel
was replaced by a lumpy tussocked grass course that was barely double track,
and in many spots barely rideable, especially now that the legs were getting a
In the end, what was more of a walkers’ trail had to be
endured for approx 20 km. We'd roll what
we could, but with every uphill pinch, or even up hills that weren't so pinchy,
we'd invariably stall and resort to pushing, encouraged forward by fond
attention of the flies, which would be shed once we got on a roll, but there'd
always be a new batch to replace them.
We found respite in the lovely Valentine's hut half way along this
stretch, but the relief was short lived and it was back to grovelling and fly
We eventually descended out of the ghostly limbs onto an
expansive grassy bowl, and merged with the Grey Mare and Round Mountain trails,
where finally we were able to enjoy more of a pleasant roll, with Mt Jugungal coming
into spectacular view on our right hand side.
This was of considerable relief, as if the trails had continued in the
style of Valentine's, we might well have had to bunker down in one of the bush
huts for the night with nought but fruit cake to sustain us. You can imagine how thrilled Anita was about
With the clock reading approx 5 pm, and 95 km on the dial, we finally gained
sealed road again at the Round Mountain car park, turned left, and proceeded in
the knowledge that the day was winding down but we still had 40 km to travel
with energy and water levels near empty.
In our favour, we were still at 1500 m, with Khancoban at 300m. This could have meant we had a lovely even
descent to look forward to but, in true mountains style, it unfolded as a
series of steep plummets through cuttings, separated by pinchy ups which we'd
really had enough of by this stage of proceedings. Nonetheless we slipped down into warm air and
rural open paddocks, making a B-line for Shano's milk bar and the promise of a
milkshake or three, which we'd been fantasizing about for hours.
Predictably, Shano's had already closed for the day, as
had the nearby servo, so we settled for soft drinks and ice blocks at the
caravan park instead, before checking into palatial cabin digs, having a quick
shower, and hitting the pub for an all you can eat and drink extravaganza as
the sun dipped. It was a nice way to
finish a hard but satisfying day, of 135 km, 11 hrs and 2800 m of vert. Birds
of the day were the grey currawongs we disturbed early on the Snowy River.
Needless to say we were early to bed and slept like logs,
before getting up with the knowledge that another tough day lay ahead. But the positives were numerous; breakfast at Shano's, fantastic morning
birdsong whilst climbing Scammel's spur, and a road we'd ridden before. Despite the fact we were on sealed roads, we
were on mtbs, so knew the climb to Dead Horse Gap would be tough. It was, with a combined elevation gain of
approx 2500 m for the first 70 km of the day.
But the climb was made more bearable with the knowledge that all manner
of pies and milkshakes awaited at Thredbo village.
Somewhat refreshed, the lure of the TVT was too much, and
we had fun surfing shaded lines down to Crackenback Resort, whence commenced
the last major obstacle for the day before dropping down to the village to
close out a 115 km, 10 hour and 3000 m vertical jaunt. Given that the hour was late, we made the rare
decision to skip the bakery altogether and headed directly to digs at the Jindy
Inn, where cold beer, snacks, as well as GK and Gillian awaited.
More dreamy days of riding, swimming and walking followed,
to the extent that I feel I've had about three holidays packed into one, which
is just as well as these solid memories will have to, in part, sustain me till
next time I manage to escape the inanity of a life mostly governed by labour