There was a significant birthday to celebrate. Pantoneys Crown is hard to beat for a venue.
A group of us (Chantal, Mitch, Peter, Myles and Jane) set off from the hill above Baal Bone Gap on Saturday morning. Down a very steep hill – watching some 4WD antics on the way – then out to the Gap and the pressure reducing station. Our latish start mean it was better to walk the fast route to the Crown on the Saturday, and return via the longer but more scenic Baal Bone Point route on the Sunday.
From Baal Bone Gap it is a steep descent along the road that follows the water pipeline. We found a nice sunny and grassy spot for lunch at the bottom of the hill, then a little bit more road walking before we could turn off – at first for a few hundred metres up a small side creek then up an open ridge that led to the Crown.
Close to the Crown, the ridge became a lot steeper. But it was still easy going right up to the cliffs that flank Pantoneys Crown. Not far around on the western side lies our pass. It is a steep scramble up through the cliffs to the top of the Crown.
Then, we found ourselves in a wonderland. The top of Pantoneys Crown is an amazing place. It is a long thin plateau – more like a mesa. From anywhere on the top – there are great views in all directions. There are many possible campsites. We chose one near the south end.
After setting up camp – we wandered around taking in the views and taking photos. For me there were a lot of photos to take. It was sunny, but a quite cold day with a brisk breeze coming from the south. It was right on the golden hour – where the sun is low providing a soft light on the delicate and intricate rock formations.
Competing with the photo opportunities, was the offer of crackers, cheese and wine while watching the sun set. A difficult choice….. but there was a birthday to celebrate.
When the sun did set, we all retired to a cosy seat by the fire and continued with our birthday celebrations. Not long after dark – Albert and Penny joined us.
It was an clear and starry night, helped by a new moon.
I was hoping that the clear conditions would continue in the morning – as there was an alignment of three planets and the moon to try and photograph just before dawn. But when my alarm went off – it was quite cloudy. I dozed off for a little more sleep – easy to do when it is cold outside. But I did eventually get up before the sun did and walk the short distance to see what dawn would bring.
The actual sunrise was pretty ordinary – not surprising give the cloud cover. But a few rays of sunlight did emerge in the east. I was about to pack up my photographic gear when a good light show started. It was another golden hour – with golden rays of the sun merged from the clouds and penetrated to the bottom of the Capertee Valley.
When the sun rose high and the light show faded, I headed back to camp – to find most of the party still in their tents. They had missed the spectacle.
But once a roaring fire was going, only an hour or so later, the others got up and we enjoyed our breakfasts.
Then is was back to the pass, and down through the cliffs, across the saddle and then up to Baal Bone Point. Then is was fast, easy walking back to Baal Bone Gap with a lunch stop and a few photos stops on the way. The last part of the walk was back up the steep hill to the cars.
This is magnificent country to spend a few days in. Thanks to Chantal for organising the walk.
More photos are on my website here.