Hiking alone can be daunting, but when things go wrong and you only have yourself to rely on, these are the moments you really find out what you’re made of.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


Last year I set out on a solo road trip – hiking and working remotely down the southeast coast of Australia. My quest was to spend the weekdays working and my weekends exploring new areas and hiking new mountains, with the goal of hiking some of the highest peaks in each state, known as the State 8.

For different reasons, I wasn’t able to tick ACT or NSW off the list, but that’s another story. This story is about Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong, and how my first solo overnight hike was almost a disaster! But in the end, it became the best hike of my life.

If you don’t know anything about Mt Bogong, the one thing you do need to know is that it’s 1,986m above sea level. It starts out steep and stays that way for the entire time.

Being an avid hiker and choosing one of the steeper routes of Mt Bogong, Staircase Spur, I’m no stranger to the feeling of starting a hike and wondering why on Earth I’m doing this. But I’ve played that game enough times to know that my body will eventually warm up and I’ll find my rhythm.

Starting Bogong, my legs felt tired, but I pushed through the feeling knowing it should eventually fade. However, (spoiler alert) this time the feeling never faded and was an omen of what was to come.

With my goal to make it to the top for lunch and camp at Cleve Cole Hut on the other side of the summit, I kept pushing myself to make it there as quickly as possible. Mainly so I could eat lunch, enjoy the views, and get to camp before sunset.

As I kept climbing, I noticed my legs were getting more fatigued and weren’t warming up like I was expecting they would.

Despite this, I was still able to make it to the first camp, Bivouac Hut, in good time and felt positive I’d reach the summit soon.

Within a couple hundred metres of leaving camp, I was really starting to struggle, and I could barely walk even a few steps without having to take a break. I tried to work out what was happening as I’d never experienced something like this before, and finally decided to take a 15-minute break and eat a bunch of snacks, hoping it might give me the energy to keep going.

After three and a half hours of walking, I popped out of the dense scrub and got my first clear view of the summit which was still covered in snow from the end of the winter season.

This was not only my first solo overnight hike but also my first time hiking in the snow.

Read more: Essential Gear For A Snow Camping Trip


Eyes on the prize

Starting the snowy part of the trail is when things started going wrong.

It was now 2pm and the sun had turned the snow into a slippery slush. Attempting to traverse this section is a concern on the best of days, but it was made even worse by the fact that my legs were finally showing me what they’d been planning all along and started cramping so badly I couldn’t walk anymore.

With no one around, a heavy overnight pack on my back and the knowledge that I was alone due to the time of day, I was literally stuck in the middle of the snow on the side of the mountain, not able to move and aware that one bad slip would surely send me sliding down the mountain, never to be seen again.

Read more: Alpine Back Country Winter Safety

After taking an ironic selfie smiling through the pain, I tried my best to walk back to a patch of grass so I could reassess what to do.

Now I had summit fever.


Decisions, decisions…nah, I’ll take a selfie!

I could see the summit in the distance and it felt so close, however, the weather was starting to turn and the peak was slowly disappearing into the fog.

Devastated that I was so close but could no longer physically go on, I decided to Facetime my friends to ask for advice as I needed someone to help me decide what to do next. The decision was made to turn around and stay overnight at Bivouac Hut, the camp I’d walked through earlier on, and to attempt the summit again in the morning after many hydrolytes, a feed, and hopefully a good night’s sleep.

Read more: Evading Near Disaster on Mt Feathertop’s ‘Hot Triangle’


Pretty good view for an unplanned sleepover

At camp, I met another couple who were doing the summit for sunrise so I asked if I could tag along as this was my dream, but I didn’t feel safe enough to do it alone. Thankfully they said yes!

Waking up at 4am the next morning, the sky looked to have cleared up but I was anxious that my legs would have a repeat of the day before. So I stuffed my face with food, skulled another hydralyte, and we were on our way. The tired feeling started like normal which made me nervous, but thankfully this time it subsided and I was able to make it back to the point where I’d turned around the day before, so far cramp-free.


Brrr it’s cold out here


Once we traversed over the first section, we took a moment to turn off our headlights and watch the full moon make the snow glitter in its light. It was already an achievement for me to get to this point, knowing that I was most likely going to make it to the summit this time around. But standing in the stillness of the mountain embedded this feeling in me.


Snow actually sparkling in the moonlight


Something I’ve done for years when I experience a beautiful moment like this is to stand still and take note of everything around me; the sights, the smells, the sensation on my skin, in order to soak it all.


I like to think of these moments as ‘A secret between me and the universe.

I recognised a long time ago that these moments of true beauty will never be replicated again no matter how many people have been here before or will be hereafter, and that this moment is just for me and Mother Earth to be our secret forever.

As we kept moving towards the summit, the snow had hardened making it significantly easier than the day before, but it was still a heart pumper if you took a wrong step.

As we closed in on the summit, I underestimated the sudden temperature drop, but thankfully I’d brought enough layers to keep just warm enough. Although I did have to put an extra pair of gloves down my pants to keep my butt cheeks warm!

The sun started to make its way over the mountains just as we reached the ridge, with one final stretch to get to the true summit.

Over the other side of the ridge, we saw the full moon, which had turned bright orange, setting over the mountains in the distance. It took my breath away once more. We were so lucky as it was such a clear morning that you could stand at the true summit, spin around 360° and see the full moon set whilst the sun rose on the other side.

Watching the sun’s rays slowly take over the mountaintop and wake the world up, it was not lost on me how incredible this moment was, and how it nearly didn’t happen.

When I turned around on my first attempt, I felt so devastated and deflated that I wasn’t able to summit, and the truth is if I had any other aliment that didn’t literally stop me from walking, I would’ve pushed through.

Looking back, had I come up the day I planned, I would not have seen any view and worse, I could’ve potentially been seriously injured. This realisation reiterated for me the fact that everything happens for a reason and why I wasn’t meant to summit the day before.


Let’s be honest…it’s all worth it for views like this


To be able to tick off Victoria’s highest peak and do it solo was such an accomplishment. The truth is, I like it when things go wrong, as it’s always a great story. But it also showed me the power of trusting the universe and that sometimes when things go wrong it’s because you’re meant for something else – and that’s the true adventure of it all.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace