One of the great challenges of any trip to Lord Howe Island is the climb up Mount Gower. Mount Gower is 850m tall and stands next to Mount Lidgbird, which is 777m. Both Mountains dominate the backdrop of many a Lord Howe Island photo. BotF took on the challenge with two of his daughters and barely lived to tell the tale.
Our guide, the laconic yet loquacious Jack Shick (legend), has done the walk nearly 1300 times. You cannot climb Mount Gower without a registered guide – I now know why. The ascent took our party of 20 odd around 5 hours, and at about the two and a half hour mark – your correspondent felt he was about to draw his final breath. Some of the walk is along narrow cliff ledges where holding onto a rope prevents you falling 100m into the Pacific. Some of the walk is hauling yourself up ropes to climb slippery tree root infested paths. The real killer is the 300 or so metres of unrelenting ascent up a muddy rocky track before going above the tree-line at 500m. Only pride kept me going. That and the thought of the wonderful beer porn I could capture at the peak. However at the moment my lungs felt they would emerge through my throat, I questioned the wisdom of the extra weight of the two stubbies I was carrying.
Eventually after passing through 4 forest types, we emerged from the cool, mossy, ferny forest on to the 52 acres of summit plateau to be confronted by the most wonderful panorama imaginable. The varying blue hues of the lagoon, the beatiful crescent of Lord Howe Isand, the majesty of Mount Lidgbird, the ribbons of waves on the reef and the Admiralty Islands are laid out below. To top it all off a Lord Howe Island Wood Hen, down to about 40 birds in total at one stage, emerged from the bushes. There’s now about 400 (I think).
To celebrate my ascent, which at one stage seemed quite unlikely, I produced a stubbie of Sleeping Giant IPA – a relative new release from Gage Roads. After 5 hours in my back pack, the beer had warmed up, but it was still bloody fine. The euphoria aside, the Sleeping Giant would still be a great beer and I look forward to giving another crack in decent surrounds. A genuine IPA that is a worthy Australian addition to this competitive category. Seriously bitter and deeply hoppy – this is a definite contender. I was biased because a KB strained through my sock would have tasted good, but I anticipate keenly my next tasting.
The only regret about the Lord Howe Island trip was missing the wedding of BotF member, Ramesh, which occurred in NZ on Saturday. In his honour I carried a stubbie of Steinlager Pure with me. Ramesh has asked me to review this for some time. I am sure your wedding was better than this beer. Maybe the bar for my palate had been set too high, but this was just el blando. The beer label hyperbole suggested it was the right beer for the surrounds, but it just didn’t had enough for me. Again the warmth counted against it, and I’d better stop there – as I’ll get unfairly harsh. Congratulations Ramesh and Janessa – BotF hopes your day was great.