Winter Squall Panorama from Trestle Mountain, Wellington Range

Winter Squall Over The Wellington Range (Trestle Mountain, Wellington Park, Hobart)

LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > HOBART REGION AND THE WELLINGTON RANGE – TASMANIA > Winter Squall Over The Wellington Range (Trestle Mountain, Wellington Park, Hobart)

 

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Wellington Park contains a large network of walking tracks and fire trails that not only provide access to Kunanyi / Mt. Wellington but also to other mountains that provide spectacular views of the Huon Valley, the Derwent Valley, Cathedral Rock and the surrounding mountains.

 

Kunanyi/Mt. Wellington is the most popular mountain of the Wellington Range, which towers above Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city. However, some of the lesser known mountains in this range are also very beautiful and just as loved by local bushwalkers. This shot was taken from the side of Trestle Mountain in midwinter, when snow squalls and high winds were buffeting the range.

 


 

Photographer’s Reflection:

 

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid…” (Psalm 56:3-4)

 

I suppose it was a bit ambitious to attempt to climb the summits of three different mountains in one day, especially given the short daylight hours of Tasmania’s winter. 

 

However, my dad was visiting from overseas, and this was the only chance we had to hike up into the Wellington Range. The plan was to climb Collins Bonnet, Trestle Mountain and Collins Cap, which was doable if we hurried. 

 

After a snowy, wet ascent from Myrtle Forest, we summitted Collins Bonnet, my favorite mountain in Hobart, due to its spectacular 360° views. It was all the more stunning blanketed in fresh snow. This is the the photo I took there: “Collins Bonnet Frozen” (Wellington Range, Wellington Park, Hobart)).

 

By that time we were already running behind schedule, so we had to choose between Collins Cap or Trestle Mountain.

 

We chose Trestle, the prettier, but less-travelled and less well-marked of the two.

 

Snow squalls were coming through all day, but as we climbed and looked behind us, the setting sun began to break up the clouds. The view was breathtakingly beautiful, but the clouds were moving so fast that I knew I only had a minute or two to capture it on camera before it was gone.

 

Adding to the pressure was the coming darkness, the exposed, alpine environment in subzero temperatures, icy boulder scrambling sections and the inclement weather.

 

But the scene was so stunningly beautiful, surely I could just spare a few minutes…

 

Thankfully, there was a perfect boulder just a little ways off track where I could get a clear shot, so I quickly scrambled to the top to obtain my shot.

 

We were only  15-20 minutes from the summit, but Dad felt the time pressure and, being an experienced bushwalker, called out that he would continue climbing and I could catch him. “OK”, I shouted back.

That, as it turned out, was a very poor decision…

 

The track up Trestle Mountain is minimally marked, hardly worn by foot traffic and hard to follow in places, even in the daylight. Given the low light and light snow cover, it was even more difficult.

 

As I tried to find Dad, it became quickly apparent that he had lost the track.

 

I called out and searched and eventually found him, but now we were both off track. 

 

As the light was falling my stress was rising. I had to get us safely off this mountain immediately or we could be in real trouble.

 

Trestle Mountain’s summit is a long ridge shaped like a stegosaurus spine of tall boulders. There is only one way you can get up onto this spine, and that is on the track. We spent some time trying to find the track again but without success.

 

I said to Dad:

 

“We need to get down quickly before these boulders ice over, or it is going to get really treacherous scrambling down them, especially for me with my 17 kg (38 lb) expedition backpack. I am not sure where we are in relation to the trail, but I know we are only 5 minutes from the summit. We have two choices: 

 

One, we could bush bash our way down until we hit the fire trail, but that will be difficult and potentially dangerous because I am unfamiliar with the untracked areas of this mountain. There is a possibility that we could run into a labyrinth of huge boulders. If we descend them and get stuck in a dead end, we might not be able to climb back up again because they’ll be iced over. We could get stuck in an iced over boulder labyrinth overnight.

 

Our second option is to continue climbing to the summit until we hit the spine. If we traverse along the base of the spine, I should be able to find its intersection with the trail, and then it’s a safer descent for us.”

 

Despite the setting sun, we chose to continue climbing up instead of down in order to hit the spine because we felt that was the safer of the two options. As we ascended, the most exquisite pink and orange setting sunlight fell on rugged, snow-covered Collins Bonnet. Oh, the photographer’s anguish of having to pass up a National Geographic shot in order to get ourselves out of our deteriorating situation!

 

Our course of action was based upon the presumption that when I hit the spine I would be able to tell approximately where we were. But when we we finally made it, a terrible sinking feeling came over me. I didn’t recognize a single thing; I had no idea where we were or if the track was to our right or left. We were way off track, and that alarmed me.

 

The spine  is made of many vertical boulders that are several metres high, and the fallen boulders down from it are difficult to traverse with their big crevices and drop offs. We tried bush bash across them to the left and then to the right, but it was treacherous and we were slipping and falling on the icy boulders. It was almost getting too dark to see and the clouds were beginning to build again and drown out what little light we had left. Our head lamps would be of little use to us in that confined, scrubby area.

 

We were potentially in a very dangerous situation of possibly having to spend the night on the summit of a mountain with snow squalls going through, and I began to panic a little bit. Although I had already been praying, I now began to pray in real earnest. 

 

It starkly reminded me of the only other time I got lost on top of another mountain at sunset, only it was in summertime. I was alone, and despite going around and around the summit several times for what felt like an eternity, I just could not find the track down. By the time I finally conceded that I could not find it, I was panicking and in tears. At that point I completely stopped trying and sat down and earnestly prayed to the ONLY One who knew exactly where I was and exactly where the track was.  I begged God to guide me in the dark back to safety. Straightaway, God heard my cry and faithfully came to my rescue and immediately guided me straight onto the track. Praise God!!!

 

I knew that here on Trestle Mountain God would faithfully come through for me again, so I fought my fears and cried out just as earnestly that God would save us and help us find the way.

 

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid…” (Psalm 56:3-4)

 

It was not long after that, much to my relief, that I all of a sudden found the trail again.

 

THANK GOD!!!

 

It was a long, careful descent in the dark, but God looked after us and protected us from all harm.

 

This photo is one of my favorites for a few different reasons. Perhaps the greatest reason is because the light bursting through the clouds reminds me of God’s divine and faithful intervention in response to our prayers.

 

“He [God] parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me…” (Psalm 18:9-12, 16-17)

 

 

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