Saturday, January 11, 2014

Alpine New Year

In a last minute spur of the moment burst of spontaneity, we decided to head to the mountains to bring in the new year in style.

Brian got online to look for a place to stay and found us a lovely chalet at Lake Crackenback in the Snowy Mountains. A bustling mecca for skiers in the winter, the resort in summer was full of families and couples looking to explore the many walking trails of the high country.

 A family friendly kind of place, the resort offered trampolines, archery and bicycle rentals.

Canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards were left on the banks of the lake for guests to enjoy. We took the boys out for a very short paddle which would have been more enjoyable had Riker not been so wiggly and eager to peer over the side of the canoe (and then the other side and then the other side again).

The boys share a cuddle while watching a content mob of kangaroos.

 The boys and I with Lake Crackenback in the background.

 Riker flashes a cheeky grin. 

 The boys head off on a walk.

 And check one of many wombat holes for any residents.

 A loving moment by the river

 A mama emu...

 ...and her two babies wander freely just outside the entrance to the resort.

 The view from Charlotte Pass

 Looking down on three tributaries to the Snowy River

 The boys come to find me after waking up from a nap in the car.

We're not ones to make big plans for ringing in the new year (or even stay up till midnight for that matter) but Brian wanted to do something special while we were in the mountains.  So, on January 1st he got up at 4am to drive back to Charlotte Pass and make the 18 kilometer journey to the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko and back.

Those of you who know Brian won't be at all surprised by his decision to take on a hike to the tallest peak in Australia in the wee hours of the morning, but even I was surprised that he ran the whole trail and completed what is usually a six hour return hike in only three hours and was back in time for breakfast and checkout.

  Sunrise over a mountain stream.

Stunning - wish I could have been there!

 The rewarding view from the top of Mt Kosciuszko

 Seaman's Hut

 Snow gum

On our way back to Canberra we made a detour to go to a place that we'd been wanting to visit for a long time, the Yarrangobilly Caves. We stopped at the visitor center to get tickets and have a picnic before heading into the caves.

Riker flashes a charming smile.

 This delightful tunnel of trees leads us to the entrance of the caves.

 Rounding a corner the boys spot the giant mouth of the cave. The path to the cave was covered in small pebbles and we warned the boys to be careful after Ari fell down. To which Riker replied, "My muscles won't slip. My bones have brakes." Good to know.

Yarrangobilly consists of several caves, some of which have guided tours but South Cave was recommended for our family as we could go at our own pace. Inside, we followed the path as it wound through some spectacular formations which were conveniently lit as motion sensors detected our presence. Here, a few of the best photos from inside the cave.

I was worried that the boys might not like the cave, get really bored or worse, really scared once inside. My fears were unfounded though as they tolerated the cave tour really well. Riker didn't especially like all the water dripping from the stalactites and Ari needed to be carried part of the way, but other than that we had a great time.

After our cave tour, we decided to visit the park's thermal pools thinking that a quick dip would tire the boys out enough to ensure they would both sleep all the way back to Canberra. This was an excellent plan except that the path to the pools was nearly a kilometer long and involved a long steep descent. The pools were not particularly warm (though they would be in winter) and Ari cried the whole way up the steep ascent back to the car. At another time of day, this might have been fun but we wish we'd been warmed about the steep hill at the visitor center!

As much as we've loved our many recent trips to the beach, this trip reminded both of us how much we love the mountains and crisp alpine air!

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