Beeripmo – hardcore or marshmallow?

We gathered at Richards camping area, Mt Cole State Forest,  in western Victoria. The aim was to do the  Beeripmo Walk, a 21km circuit through Mt Cole State Forest and Mt Buangor State Park. There were seven of us in total but I had never met anyone else in the group; however, at a pre-hike coffee stop in Beaufort I noticed three people who looked suspiciously like hikers. “G’day” I said.  My suspicions were right. They were hikers and they were members of the same hiking group, a mob that calls themselves “Hardcore Hikers” which I joined on-line via a website called Meetup.

We started off wandering through a granite boulder strewn valley along a creek towards Raglan Falls, which were a sort of trickle over a number of cascades rather than a waterfall as such. Maybe they look different in mid-winter after a huge deluge but it was hard to call them a waterfall on this day. From the top of the falls we enjoyed great views down the valley we had just wandered up before climbing to Cave Hill through open forest and a series of views over the hills and plains – first towards Mt Cole and then as we headed north towards Langi Ghiran and the Grampians beyond. Lar-ne-jeering (Langi Ghiran) is Djab Wurrung for “home of the Black Cockatoo” but all we saw were the basically white Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

The walking was pleasant, wandering in and around granite boulders through open forest with the peaceful sound of cockatoos (SQUAWK!) and the distant hum of another common species found in state forests – the trail bike. The track led to a lunch spot perched on a rocky clearing with more views. After lunch was a climb to the top of Mount Sugarloaf (about the fourth Mount Sugarloaf I’ve climbed – Cathedrals, Kinglake and I think there was down the Otways somewhere) with views looking south back over our tracks. From Sugarloaf it was a short stroll to Beeripmo Camp and our overnight stop.

Hardcore Hikers do hardcore,  difficult hikes but the Beeripmo hike was listed as “introductory”, and some in our group were doing their first overnight hike, testing new gear and skills. This led to a number of discussions about hiking and hiking gear.

Between the seven of us we had six tents, three of which were on their maiden voyage. The age-old bushwalker pastime of comparing gear began with a tour of each tent. Is it easy to pitch?, Is it roomy?, Do the colours clash with my hiking gear? and other questions vital to acceptable standards of hiking were asked. Dinner and a variety of cookers were then compared for fuel efficiency, along with talk of recipes and freeze drying your own tucker. Naturally the talk turned to that favourite of all hiking topics – pack weight and ways to shed ten, maybe twenty grams.

A number of demonstrations of how to lower pack weight were then given. Things like removing the wine by pouring it into cups and then drinking it (shedding 200 gram for red wine, 20 gram for Port per cup, the process can be repeated if necessary to save additional weight), how eating the 250 gram block of chocolate reduces your pack weight by 250 grams and how toasting the marshmallows and eating them saves around 2 grams per marshmallow. All very important things for the beginner overnighter to learn. A lesson in the fine art of marshmallow skinning was then provided.

1)    Roast the marshmallow
2)    Remove the caramelised outer layer (the skin), leaving the soft inner core on the stick for a second roasting
3)    Repeat steps one and two until there is no more marshmallow

At around 9.30 (the “bushwalkers midnight”) we wandered off to our various tents to snuggle down for what was shaping up to be a star-filled, cold night.

Morning came with a cool wind blowing. Breakfast, pack, and off we go, in warm gear, but soon to shed layers as we headed towards Mt Buangor summit for photos and views. The summit is a side trip so we dropped packs. As I mentioned before, the forest appeared to have a resident population of trail bikes. This rather noisy species not digs up tracks but could, possibly, make off with a backpack, so we carefully placed them out of sight. 

The summit was soon reached, the wind had dropped, layers removed and photos taken.  From the summit we made our way to Mugwump Hut for an early lunch before continuing back to the walk start along an easy section of track next to a fern gully through open forest that looked like it would be superb in Spring with orchids and the local Mt Cole Grevillea.

Was it hardcore? No, but Beeripmo is a really good introductory walk. Marshmallow? Well they don’t weight much and are rather tasty when roasted.

Thanks to V from Hardcore for leading the hike, and thanks also to my hardcore hiking mates/cobbers/buddies who joined me on the trip

The lunch time view

Camp - the blue tent on the left is mine and the first time in the bush.

The summit of Mt Buangor.


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