THE JOURNEY

An ascent of Mount Honey
New plant record
Albatross on north face
Lunch time
On summit of Honey
Honey summit view
Matching photo points
Plant transect
Two tarns to sample
Tarn sampling

An ascent of Mount Honey

Today dawned in spectacular fashion with calm waters and not a cloud in the sky. Given the fine, windless day and the arrival of the Orion tourist ship, a planned trip up the Col Ridge with botanist Colin Meurk was soon changed to an ascent of Mt Honey from the north face, rather than the usual track up the west flank. Mount Honey is often covered in clag (low cloud) so we had to make the most of the perfect conditions to get up there, and with the arrival of the Orion ship there was the added bonus of cutting three hours off the trip by a quick boat ride across the harbour.

The boat left us at the north-facing foot of Mt Honey with the peak looming above us at 11.30am. This was a special moment for two reasons:
1)  This was the first time I had worn my tramping boots instead of waders and the comfort and ease of walking was delectable.
2)  This was a symbolic day for Colin and I. Heading to the top of the highest peak on Campbell Island together; after three years of fundraising, organising, and generally doing the hard graft; would be a moment to celebrate our achievement of making this trip a reality.

The day had another special moment in store for us as Colin found a new species record for the island soon after we started the ascent of the revegetated south slip – a diminutive grass (sorry Colin, I have forgotten the name, but most certainly a photo moment anyway)!

The slopes of Mt Honey soon steepened into bluffs covered with Bulbinella and snow grass (Clinocloa) and my height issues were challenged as we scrambled up vertical bluffs - albeit only several meters high, but with a 200 m high steep slope below that gave plenty of scope for one to splatter amongst the lovely ferns covering the hillside (what pretty patterns it would make), and a 1.5m long kicknet on the side of my pack that liked to get stuck in the vegetation at the most inopportune nail-biting moments. With a last climb up a bare slip face and comparatively easy walk up the west ridge we reached the top of Mt Honey. As we stepped onto the large rocks atop the ‘mountain’ the wind dropped away, the sun shone through a blue sky, and 360 views that seemed to reach to the edge of the world awaited us. I could think of no better way to celebrate our achievement than to stand at that point on such a day, and it was nice to think that the island turned out this day just for this very moment.

But work awaited us and so we made our way along the east ridge, re-sampling Colin’s plant transects and photo points, before dropping down on the southern slopes in search of tarns for me to sample. The south slopes were marred with peat scars, interspersed with low growths of Bulbinella and P. hookeri, with Royal Albatross wheeling overhead. I found two sizeable tarns on the southern branch of the hill overlooking Southeast Harbour where I collected water, sediment, and invertebrate samples, and notes for Krystyna to possibly return to core. At 6.45pm we finally packed up our gear and made our way back up Mt Honey and the long walk home around the head of Perseverance Harbour. The conditions continued to remain accommodating, with a wonderful twilight sky and exceptionally low tides around the Harbour, allowing us to reach base and a cup of tea by 10.15pm.

[Shelley McMurtrie]