hiking


It began about a year ago when I read Andrew Bishops account of a wild winter circuit around the Bogong region one winter.

Ever since a walk across the high plains from Falls Creek to Bogong  when Gavin and I were teenagers, I had always wanted to return in winter. Andrew’s comments made it all the more ‘do-able’, so that was the plan…

The team;

Scott

Scott Vawser (Team Leader – Perth)

Stuart - Big RiverStuart Young (Perth)

GavGavin Riches (Busselton)

Ropers HutCasey Ellery (Perth)

Ryders YardsRoss Lambert (Perth)

DaveDavid Gemmell (Alexandria, Vic)

The Trip

Day 1 (Saturday 6th July 2013)

After logistics and planning were complete we headed to our rendezvous point in Bright in our borrowed ute. We found Ross and Dave wandering the wet streets of town looking for a good spot to eat before heading off to Mountain Creek campground just past Mount Beauty.

Our Mountain Creek camp was established on the same evening that a group of Scouts were being evacuated from a car park just a few km from Falls Creek in a wild snow storm. The weather had unleashed all its fury in a giant snow dump with some massive winds.

Mountain CreekBack down in Mountain Creek we wore just the tail end of this bad weather in the form of constant all night rain…rain that was later to turn to ice as we pitched our tents outside of Ropers hut on our second night on the trail.

Day 2 – Sunday

Our car was left at Mountain Creek to be picked up by friends in Bright and parked somewhere safe for our return there in a week. We headed off into a cloudy day with light occasional showers. It was not long before we saw our first snow. We needed to fit our snow shoes at Bivouac Hut where we encountered 2 day-walkers deciding to stay or go, the weather was turning, the temperature dropping.

On BogongBy the time we were adjacent to the summit of Bogong, the temp had dropped to about -11 or -12 with the wind chill. Visibility down to less than 20/30m, snow poles hard to find.

Cleve Cole HutThe decision not to ‘peak bag’ was a good one, people were wet tired, very cold and Cleve Cole hut was a welcome site after walking from 9 to 5…a good days work! My great lesson from the day is that Seal Skin socks keep your base layer warm and dry! I loved them.

Day 3 – Monday

The day was cold yet clear. We didn’t take off until 9.30am and lost all yesterdays altitude by descending deep into the Big River Valley. It was here that Gavin gave us the best laughs of the trip by inflating a pink “Barbie Raft” to transport his pack then himself…almost successfully across the 1 foot deep, biting cold river.

The Barbie BoatThe other side of the bank introduced us to the other side of the valley and a steep painful climb back up into the snow line. Ropers hut was small and occupied by a lovely German couple in ‘old school’ ski gear.

Ropers CampWe pitched our tents and I personally experienced the coldest night of my life. The temp was -5. My shoes froze, my water froze…everything froze, especially our wet tent! Stuart managed to eat something that ‘disturbed’ him. He spend the night with vomiting and diarrhea.Ropers Hut

Ropers HutHere’s a tip from today – Turn your water bottle up side down in freezing conditions. The top freezes…which is the bottom…get it?

Day 4 – Tuesday

We left Ropers at 8.30am into an even more stunning day, long views of snow for as far as the eye could see.  Stuart dragged himself around with nothing in his tank after such a violent night. He still had diarrhea and nausea, we pumped as much hydro lite into him as he could take. He loaded up his pack and just walked and walked and walked, at lunch break he laid in the snow and slept for 20 minutes in the warm sun. We were aiming for Wallace or Cope Hut, but were all feeling the pinch of a very hard days walking in steep and deep conditions.

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Ice on poleWhen Stuart saw the sign indicating ‘just’ 5km to go until we reached the hut his F******* exclamation summed up what we all felt…that although we knew we had it in us to make the hut, a walk in after dark would just be a killer that we didn’t need. The decision was made to set up camp at the Langford East Aqueduct SES emergency hut.

Langford GapTents were pitched, toilets dug and some wood collected for a small fire to keep us warm before heading to the tents. Stuart…missed the fire part, and the dinner part, he was sound asleep after a full day of running on empty in what he referred to as “the hurt locker’! He slept 12 hours through a -7 degree night! Gavin and I chickened out and decided freezing on the floor of the small hut was better than freezing in the tent.

SES Hut2013-07-08 09.13.42

Day 5 – Wednesday

Gavin woke and packed but was tentative, a sore groin and knee and no doubt a weary mind, battling the decision to stay or go for some time. We were on the track by 8.30 and by 8.50 Gavin made the decision to turn back to the exit point at Langford Gap West, The Bogong High Plains Rd into Falls Creek. Some deep emotions felt as farewell ‘man hugs’ given and we went one way and Gavin went the other.

Scout ChaletNot long down the road we came to the impressive Scout Chalet where the group left from last Saturday and were evacuated from Langford Gap Rd just a few hours later. We chatted with one of the residents for a while and turned down a look inside in favour of keeping up our new found momentum and pace. This pace continued into the stunning day.

Through the deep clean powder we saw many footprints, we think we saw roo prints, deer prints, many rabbit prints and even a horse print, but rabbits were the only animals we encountered ‘live’.

2013-07-11 06.58.322013-07-10 15.31.29After some discussion around the interpretation of the map we turned left (not right!) and into what is known as Ryders Yards by 2pm, a beautiful picturesque campsite with about 3 tin shacks, one good for food prep and staying warm around the fire, one normally locked and another good for sleeping in. Here we met Pete alecturer in computing at TAFE who was a great talker and even out talked me! He loved his light weight outdoor hiking gear and prided himself on staying warm in dangerously cold conditions.

Day 6 – Thursday

We headed off at 8.30am. After filling up from the aqueduct and blasting the water with our Steri-pen we moved on into yet another blue sky day, Ross singing a song for every comment made, me trying to work out which band it was, the album and the song title.

2013-07-11 09.51.132013-07-09 07.58.17After a few minor malfunctions Dave’s snow shoe broke and so did his patience. Whilst taking a 2km short cut across a beautiful snow covered plain Dave dropped back and sorted out his shoe…and his bad attitude :-)

2013-07-10 11.02.00

Rangers

We came across 2 Park Rangers on snow patrol who pulled over and told us how impressed they were with our journey, took our photos and asked if they could write our story in the next Vic Parks Magazine.

2013-07-11 12.03.45It was the toilet that first appeared at Dibbins Hut in the Cobungra Valley around 3pm. The toilet was almost 600 m from the hut! A great night was had chatting and reflecting on the previous week.2013-07-12 11.36.09

Day 7 – Friday

After some strange antics and video making, we headed up Swindlers Spur at 8.30, a final killer climb into Hotham, not before some spectacular view of Feathertop and a relaxing ‘last supper lunch’ sitting in the smart looking Derrick Hut. 2013-07-12 10.55.20We placed every last bit of food on the table and had a feast.

2013-07-12 12.31.27 We arrived in Hotham around 3.30pm with enough time to change our bus from 9.30pm to 5pm, we also had time to move to the pub for some well earned beers.

Photo 12-07-13 3 52 06 PMAfter a meal…Indian feast in Bright we settled down to a showers and real beds in Poreopunka.

Day 8 – Saturday

We fare-welled Dave, a great new friend and a valuable guy to have in the mountains. We drove back to the airport to meet Neale Meredith for dinner, he had arranged our vehicle.

Whilst in Tasmania next January hiking with the family I thought, why not do an extended Wilderness Walk with some mates.

I have invited a bunch of guys from Perth and Melbourne to come with me, 10 in all. Not all confirmed but at least 8 are.

We are doing a walk called the Mount Anne Circuit in the South West National Park. Mt Anne is the highest in the S/W park and although the walk is only 4 or 5 days walking, it contains some of the hairiest walking I have ever done. Should be fun!

tasmania - Google Maps

Our family are doing the famous Overlland Trek, a 7 day walk in the central highlands of Tasmania, The Cradle Mountain – Lake St Claire National PArk.

Here are some nice snap shots I saw on the web over the weekend web surfing, these are taken on the track we will be walking-

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__ The Overland Track __Well, I have been hanging out for the 1st of July for a few weeks. Today bookings open for the Overland Track hike in Tasmania. It is a popular track with people from all over the world so they have a limited number of spots available each season for walkers to protect the environment/track/huts/tent sites etc. Bookings opened today, by the time I got online at lunch time already the 28th Dec was booked out, the next day had 15 spots left so we grabbed 5 of them for Christine myself and the 3 girls.

It is a 6 – 7 day walk depending on how many side tracks you take. It has some nice huts along the way, but you have to carry a tent by law in case the hut is full. They let a limited number of people onto the walk each day and you can only walk north – south. It sounds all regimented and I guess it is, but I think it is better than being crowded out on a walk that feels like St Georges Tce…Pitt Street? (depending on what your main street is!) There are many spots to camp and the camaraderie at night with other walkers is all part of the experience. It’s certainly is not a walk you do to be away from people, but away from everything else – it is! The country is amazing. I did this walk under cloud and rain in about ’87, then again in good weather in ’93 on my honeymoon. Christine and I can’t wait to share the experience with our kids!

Parks & Wildlife Service - Introduction

Thinking that another trip to Tasmania might need to happen. It has been 2 years this Jan, so I just need to work out how to get there (will we drive, fly?), what to do there when to go (next Jan?) and who will come. Christine and I would love to walk together in Tassie (again) and the kids are at a great age to do do a good walk (Overland?). But I would also like to do a hard core walk in the South West National Park like Mount Anne. So maybe we could work it all into the dream!

Mt ANNE CIRCUIT – SOUTH WEST NATIONAL PARK
Mount Anne from the shelf camp
DURATION: 4 Days
TOUR GRADE: T2 – Narrower but distinct tracks, which can be muddy in some places, in pristine natural environments. Facilities are minimal and you will encounter few other walkers. These moderate tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

Mt Anne (1425m) is the highest mountain in Tasmania’s southwest. It is perhaps one of the most spectacular highlights you will see on this circuit. The tour also features breath-taking examples of Tasmania’s recent glaciations such as dramatic ice-carved cirques, knife-edge ridges and dolerite remnants of former landforms. Wander through mossy alpine forests, ancient pandani groves and discover bright green cushion plants. This tour takes you deep into the heart of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, and allows you to explore one of the world’s last temperate wildernesses.

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POTENTIAL ITINERARY & TOUR DESCRIPTION

Day 1:
Main rd to the Eliza Plateau

Leave road and drive through a magnificent temperate rainforest at the start of the South West National Park to our start point at Condominium Creek. Climb the spur from the button grass plain through mountain forest past High Camp Hut and take in the spectacular views of Lakes Pedder and Gordon. Negotiate an incredible boulder field to the Mt Eliza’s alpine plateau and arrive at our campsite among the cushion plants.

Day 2:
Eliza Plateau to the Pandani Shelf Camp

Cross the Eliza Plateau, negotiate another giant boulder field and descend to the Pandani Shelf Camp to set up camp beneath the towering stockade of the dolerite columns of the Eliza Plateau. Option to climb Mt Anne or explore the pandani groves and pristine tarns.

Day 3:
Shelf Camp to Judds Charm

Flank the Eliza Plateau along the knife-edge dolerite ridge to the Notch, with views of the incredible remnant of Lot’s Wife. A steep descent to the Lonely Tarns by Lightning Ridge and through a lush ancient pandani forest to our camp at Judds Charm.

Day 4:
Judds Charm to Red Tape Creek and Main rd

Ascend the flanks of Mt Sarah Jane, explore the plateau, then descend through a dense melaleuca grove to the button grass plains of the Anne River .Arrive at the finish point at Red Tape Creek for our return drive to main rd.

Find the rest of my family somewhere in Tasmania…hopefully wait for me to come off the mountain!

Best in full screen, and I am sorry it’s not in High Def, but you get the idea, we had some fun… I hope it lasts with the music, sometimes YouTube cuts them when you broadcast someone’s song with the clip!

Well for those long term viewers and odd followers of my quirky ways, you may remember that I bought a pair of shoes over the internet a couple of years ago.

What I was too embarased to mention was that after recieving them in the mail they were too small. I have suffered painful feel for 2 years and have finally given up on these..dare I say…$250 paid of quality walking shoes.

With some of Mr Rudd’s generous $900 I went off to my favorite shop Mtn Designs last Saturday and picked up a pair of Salomon’s for the bargain price of $200. Heck I turned down the pair of Raichle’s I tried on for $275!!

I wore these nice shoes for a couple of hours before deciding to return them as they were too small. I took them back today and tried on a slightly larger pair of the Keen (the ones I bought on the internet) they were nice, but heck I like a change -

I ended up with the next size up of the ones I had bought Saturday. The Salomon Elios GTX.

Tonight my feet are killing me – I will push through! This weekend I have to walk over 40Km in these new shoes hmmm

Have a look at these shot from the bushfires in Vic a month after

Click here

I know, I know, many people write incredibly deep stuff on their blogs, spiritual stuff, and the stuff that makes for really good reading, even controversial stuff.

I pride myself on the ordinary! Like the Resurrection of an old sleeping bag.

jan-09-019You may remember that I got a new sleeping bag for my birthday/Christmas due to the fact that my 21 year old bag was torn, stitched, torn, stitched and… torn again. But I could not bring myself to throw it out after getting a new one (sleeping bags are a big deal to me you might have noticed).

jan-09-022So … In order to fully resurrect the old bag, it not only needed stitching but re-filling with down (as in the chest fluff of a small duck) Where would I find such material other than down at the local lake? Haaaa – When I was in Nepal in 1987 I remember buying a massive down jacket that was used in a NZ attempt on Mt Everest and sold to me after the attempt failed. I used this whilst up in the snow in the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal – and not once since! So I dug it out of a box and Christine and I started slicing and transferring fluff from the jacket into the bag.

jan-09-023The bag had 220 grams of fluff added to it taking it from a 1200g bag to a 1520g bag, not too bad. I think I just took it back down to about a -3 degree bag. But in the process Christine and I had some fun filling the house with VERY small feathery stuff!

Over the past year my trusty old sleeping bag that I got to go to Nepal and stay warm in has blown itself to bits. Well I guess Nepal was in ’87!  So 21 years, not bad! Considering I would sleeping in it maybe 90 – 100 nights out of 360!! Not always but over the last few years that has been the case. I think I went through a ‘no outdoorsy’ stage towards the end of the Whitford years. To busy doing ministry to enjoy God’s creation.

Last Sat night whilst sleeping on the floor in a church in Northbridge the holes all lined up and released a great dump of soft duck down all over the floor, up my nose, in my mouth and in other crevases of my body! So after trying to stitch it up so many times, I have decided to take advantage of Main Peak’s members sale and get myself a new bag. This will be a Santa Claus gift from someone so I am not allowed to see it yet.

But, do I go down or synthetic? All those in the game would know there are many issues surrounding this question.

Synthetic, you need more fill, to get more warmth, hence more weight and more size.

BUT – It keeps you warm even if it is a bit wet and it dries much more quickly. This is good for me as I am wanting to do a bit more Kayaking this year now my shoulder is on the mend. These bags are good solid bags and much cheaper…it was this last point that helped me decide – I am going for a Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20. For all you sleeping bag techs here are the stats – Welded layer construction so it maintains loft in the bag through repeated washings and compression cycles. This comfortable, roomy, mummy cut bag is insulated with ThermicMicro™ fill. Face gasket and Ergo Draft Collar work together to seal in warmth.

Rated at 20 to -6

Weight 1346 g

Here is a pretty pic for you –

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