Thursday, 24 December 2015

Ben Lomond

22nd - 23rd December 2015

Legges Tor
Mensa Moor

Day 1
For this short overnighter on the glorious Ben Lomond I was lucky to have the company of the ever poetic Bert, an old friend and fellow Tasmaniac. We started our walk at Carr Villa after having an early lunch of crackers and dip, very fancy! The gentle ascent beneath Misery Bluff took us up to the wonderfully named plain, Land of Little Sticks, (we had a lot of fun on this trip observing the interesting names of the area). Walking was easy and scenic along the flat lands towards Legges Tor and we stopped frequently to look at the wild flowers and alpine vegetation. Just underneath the first Abel of the day we arrived at a few old alpine huts where skiing enthusiasts have been spending winter nights for many years. One hut in particular has mountains of character, due mainly to the rubbish tip piled but a stones throw from the front door. Old cans, several stoves, Vegemite jars, even a scrap scarecrow! Within an hour and a half of starting we had reached the small blip of land that is the second highest point in Tassie, Legges Tor. From here we could plan our route towards Mensa Moor and the rest of our day.

We dropped off Legges Tor and headed south west till we had a great view of Coalmine Crag with Mensa Moor in the distance. From this vantage point we decided against taking the track on the map we had, as it looked more scrubby than our alternative option. That option was to walk down to the almost dry creek bed of Rafferty Creek. Here the walking was wonderful, rock hopping for a few kilometres towards the base of Mensa Moor where we planned to camp the night. The creek bed was interesting, with several spots laden with coal and mudstone and others with chunks of well worn sandstone. Eventually we climbed out of the creek bed and headed towards the tree line at the base of Mensa Moor to set up our camp. We found a nice spot not too far from the creek with comfy, soft alpine grass and coral fern ground cover. By the time we had set up our tents we had plenty of daylight left, so headed for the summit of Mensa Moor.

A bit of a scrub bash was faced at first as we climbed through the tree line, but when we got to the top of the plateau it was clear and easy walking. We had about a kilometre of walking across the top before we reached the small summit cairn on the far south-west corner, and the view was well worth it! We had a wide panoramic view of sweeping dolerite cliff faces with tumbling scree slopes below them, and out towards the midlands there were rolling hills and farms. Super great! We spent a nice amount of time on top, the weather was calm and we were in no rush. Eventually we headed back to camp, only taking about 45 minutes to get there. Scrub bashing is always easier when facing downhill! We had dinner which comprised of various left overs from both of our fridges and topped it off with some custard... YUM! The sun treated us to some gorgeous colour on the peaks before we jumped into bed. I read a chapter of my book and then fell asleep to the sounds of mozzies buzzing outside my tent.

Bert on the march upward!

Land of Little Sticks.

Mountain rocket and scoparia. 

Legges Tor dead ahead.

This place oozes character, and rust.

A rubbish pile.

Scrap Scarecrow, or Scare-currawong.

Legges Tor - The 2nd highest point in Tasmania.

Interesting layering of mudstone and coal. 

It almost looks like a black and white photo!

Mensa Moor poking up above the scrub.

Bert bashing in the scrub.

Easy walking on top though.

Trigger plant, so much fun!

Grant Cirque from the summit of Mensa Moor.

Not a bad place to have a sleep - view to Magnet Crag.

The last hint of sun before it set fully.

Day 2
We got up a few hours after the sun and birds did. A short day ahead, just needing to get back to the car. We decided against taking the easy way up Rafferty Creek this time, instead choosing to follow the general path described in both the map and in the Abels book. This had us hammering straight up Magnet Crag, through rather thick scrub and not as many scree patches as we hoped. Although it was tiring, it was worth it when we got to the top. The terrain flattened out and the shrubs became more like a garden. Easy walking with a great view of where we had just been! The 'path' was non existent, but that was no matter. We made a bee line for the north side of Legges Tor and strolled on till we eventually met up with the path that heads back to Carr Villa. By this time, we were only an hour or so from the car and the call of the blueberry muffins in the Subie was loud! In all, it was a great walk. It could be done as a long day walk, but I enjoyed breaking it into two and the company was very much appreciated too! Thanks Bert!

Looking back toward Mensa Moor from Magnet Crag.

149 left.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Tower Hill

21st December 2015

Tower West
Tower East

I had a spare day, so decided to climb a few little obscure peaks in the North-East. I drove out to Mathinna, and then up the windy forestry roads up towards the fire tower perched high atop Tower East. I pulled up right below the peak, and walked up the steep stair case to the top to let the fire warden know I would be wandering around for a few hours. I walked back to my car, contoured around the western side of Tower East, through some light scrub and scree fields to get to a good lookout spot to plan my day. I arrived upon a fantastic view of Tower West and the low saddle that joins it to Tower East. It looked like great walking, nice open gum forest.

And the walking was indeed delightful! The forested saddle section between the two peaks was easily my favourite part of the walk. Tall, straight Eucalyptus, with not much more than grass as ground cover. The soil is of poor quality in that region, so not a lot of under story plants grow. This made for a pretty unique looking place, and very pleasant walking; eyes up and listening to birds. I walked along at a great pace until the open forest turned into thick scrub and fallen trees. I charged through the scrub, trying to stay on top of the fallen trees as much as possible to make the walking easier, and soon reached the base of Tower West. It is more or less a ridge of small cliff faces, with occasional gullies running up to the top. All I had to do was find one of these gullies that wasn't too scrubby and climb up it! I found a gully to squeeze up. The first half was great, but it soon turned scrubby again, but I wasn't going to turn around to find another. I kept pushing through and soon reached the top! A short, satisfying climb. The view on top and along the ridge was good, especially out towards the monolith of Ben Lomond. A nice view of Tower East and where I had just come from was also visible. I hung out on top for a while, had some lunch and enjoyed the warm midday sun.

After my lunch, I stumbled down back into the scrub. Going down Tower West was A LOT easier than going up, gravity is a huge help. I found a less scrubby section to get back to my nice open forest and was soon heading to the base of Tower East again. I was soon climbing the stairs back to the top of Tower East again to let the fire warden know I was heading out (and to get my summit photo). We had a good chat and exchanged our concerns for a hot summer ahead. I thought it wouldn't be a bad job, sitting there with a cup of tea and a great view all day. I was glad to see no smoke on the horizon.

Only a 2 minute climb to the summit of Tower East, easy!

Looking towards Tower West.

So pleasant!!

Scrub-a-dub dub!

And here is my gully!

Looking to Tower East from the summit of Tower West.

Ben Lomond's vast plateau from Tower West. 

The summit of Tower East isn't the most scenic...

151 left.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Walls of Jerusalem

5th - 7th December 2015

King Davids Peak
Mt Jerusalem
Mountains of Jupiter
Mt Ragoona

Day 1
Originally I was going to do a 6 day trip, but those plans changed, due mainly to the onset of terrible weather, and other options. So I ended up doing a 3 day walk instead.
I started nice and early from Launceston, driving out to the Walls of Jerusalem just after sunrise; I wanted to cram a full day of walking in! I parked the car at the main entrance to the Walls, chucked on the pack and started to stroll up the hill towards Trappers Hut. The walking was pleasant, the temperature hadn't risen yet, and I was encouraged up the hill by the calls of some of my old favourite birds - Black Currawongs, Cuckoos, and various honey eaters. It wasn't long till I reached the iconic Trappers Hut (a re-constructed version of an old fur trappers hut from the 1940's).

After a brief break, it was up a wee bit more and onto the plateau. The walking became much flatter and the views more expansive. The day had progressed to high, fluffy clouds and I could see much of the mountains in the area. So many Abels! One of which was King Davids Peak, the first Abel on my current mission. It stood proud and tall amongst the Pencil Pines and dotted tarns that are Solomons Jewels. I kept on walking and soon reached Wild Dog Creek, one of the main camp sites in the Walls. I had lunch here, stuffing my face with delicious avocado laden sandwiches. Then I stormed off up towards the 'entry to the Walls', Herods Gate. I left my pack here and took the bare essentials up for the 1 hour return trip to the top of King Davids. I followed a roughly cairned track up the side, but it was easy to pick a path regardless. Just go up.

When I returned to my pack, I stormed along the beautiful track through the steep cliffs that make up the Walls, headed for Dixons Kingdom. The Pencil Pines around this other iconic hut/camp site are amazing, very big, very ancient. I set up camp, had a cuppa chai and though I'd have a bash at another peak just north of the camp. So once again I donned my daypack and strolled off in the direction of Mt Jerusalem. It is a very pleasant climb, not hard, but rewarding with views of more mountains and hundreds of lakes and tarns. I meandered back to camp to spend the night talking with some interesting people and reading a good Robin Hobb novel. Fantasy-tastic!

Better leave my bazooka mounted dog at home...

Trappers Hut.

King Davids Peak.

On top of King Davids Peak looking towards Mt Jerusalem.

West Wall.

Pencil Pine garden.

Dixons Kingdom.

Mt Jerusalem.

Summit cairn on Mt Jerusalem.

Day 2
A foggy morning was met with stiff coffee and even stiffer porridge. I planned to go down to Junction Lake today, in preparation for the next few days. I started the day of walking with a lovely couple from Melbourne. Rupert - an actor/carpenter/federal court mediator and his wife Suzette, an actress/ancient civilisation lecturer. They wanted a hand navigating the 'off track section' in the fog down towards Lake Ball, where a more discernible path is found. Needless to say, the hour I was with them passed very quickly; filled with wonderful conversation. I left them to have a break and I picked up the pace along the side of Lake Ball. About half way along, another old hut is passed, steeped in character as all the others are. My favourite part of the walk around Lake Ball is at the western end, where the water meets big patches of Pineapple Grass. It creates an amazingly still, clear, water garden.

I kept walking towards Junction Lake, heading south when I got to Lake Adelaide. It was great walking, very peaceful, very calm. I had lunch at the bottom of Lake Adelaide, a healthy dose of Promite, crackers, and a pear! Yum-yum! Then I walked towards the top of Lake Meston, where I could see the Mountains of Jupiter - my next Abel to get. After a few more hours of relaxing walking, I reached Junction Lake and set up camp. I looked at the time. I still had 5 hours of light at least. Bag another peak? I think so. So off I set for the Mountains of Jupiter (FYI - Bloody fantastic name). It only took 1.5 hours from the hut at Junction to the top, but it was 1.5 hours of scrub. There is a path, it's not overly used, but it is there. However, some sections are overgrown and hard to follow, and the best method to reach the top is just aim in the general direction and go for it! Well, the view was AMAZING! Well worth the scratched legs. I turned on the phone and checked in with Gina, and Dad, and the weather. There was some nasty weather to be coming, time to change plans. I headed back to camp to re-think my next few days.

Morning fog.

Lake Ball hut.

How's the serenity?

Lunch of champions.

Mountains of Jupiter in the distance.

Home sweet home.

Mountains of Jupiter.

The beautiful view to Mt Ida from the Mountains of Jupiter.

Day 3
I decided to climb Mt Ragoona today and then head home. I wanted to get to Twin Spires and Nescient Peak, but they will have to wait for an overnighter I think. So I packed up my things nice and early and headed back up towards Lake Meston, for the junction to go out via Lake Bill. It had rained overnight, so I was saturated just by pushing through the overgrown sections of path - I needed a wash anyway... Within a few hours of leaving camp, I dropped my pack and strolled off towards the summit of Mt Ragoona. It was wonderful walking, very open, some cairns, but easy to see where you need to go. There was a lot of beautiful little wild flowers making the air smell thick of honey. Only an hour to the top from the main track and I was rewarded with a small summit cairn, still weather, and an hour to sit and enjoy the view. Clouds forming and rising over mountains along the Overland Track, all very peaceful.

When I arrived back at my pack, I had a light lunch and hoonded off toward the road. The next few hours were filled with brief drink stops, and last minute glimpses of mountains. I arrived at the middle car park (some 7km south of where I parked my car at the upper car park) and ditched my pack behind a tree. Thus began 7kms of road walking. Joy! But, it gave me time to reflect on a great trip. 4 Abels, 3 days. Stoked!

Cairn cairn cairn.

Lemon scented boronia - smells good!

Rolling plateau of Ragoona.

Tiny summit cairn in view.

On top of Ragoona.

Mt Ragoona from Lake Myrtle.

Mt Ragoona from Lake Bill.

153 left.