It was a Friday. It was the first snow of the season, so I went where I usually go when it snows.
The first part of the track to Lady Lake Hut was fairly ordinary, Dale Brook was flowing fast beneath the bridge and scatterings of unremarkable brown fungi were visible along the rooty rocky track. About 3/4 of the way up I started to see patches of snow and a bit further on had to pull out my rain cover as it was melting rapidly from the treetops.
Once on the plateau, I was met by a blast of ice so I put on my jacket and gloves. There was a good few inches of snow cover and the sky was blue. I exposed some frames of ‘the tree‘, a beautiful lone pencil pine growing at the edge of a tarn and then headed to the haven of Lady Lake Hut. The hut sleeps 8 and has a metho heater for cold nights. There is a metho cooker as well, some nearly spent candles in glass bottle holders, maps with track notes on the walls and a book or two left by past visitors.
Sitting at the table I did what I usually do; wrote a few lines, ate some food and drank my tea. Snow started to fall and it was time to leave.
In 1879 at the age of 29 Syd Higgs cut a track that ran parallel to Dale Brook, from the valley to the plateau. This would later become known as Higgs Track. The steep but evenly graded stock route would enable cattle to access the grazing pastures at Lake Lucy Long. In 1911 at the age of 60, Syd Higgs was commissioned to construct Lady Lake Hut which would encourage fishing and recreation in the area. Some of the timber was sourced from the surrounding forest but all other materials had to be carried from the bottom of the mountain (they did it tough). In 1961 the hut burnt to the ground during a bushfire and was finally rebuilt by Mountain Huts Preservation Society and a group of 70 volunteers in 2002, with building materials flown in by helicopter.
There is rich aboriginal heritage in the area dating from at least 2000 generations before the cutting of Higgs Track. The mountains of the spirits (kooparoona niara) or the Great Western Tiers as it is also known, is spiritually significant as the meeting place of three aboriginal nations. I feel some of the significance of the mountains whenever I’m there, and would like to learn more.