Monday, 13 March 2017

Chenye Range

10th - 12th March 2017

The Hippogriff
Chenye Range
Mt Gell
The Chimera

Day 1
I met Steve (a friend who has nearly completed all the Abels, as well as given me advise along the way on various walks) at his house, and we left Launceston at 6am for the drive to the Rufus Canal. We started walking on the well marked track to Lake Dixon at around 9am. The walk to the lake was pleasant, but soon we were off the beaten track heading north up the scrubby glaciated valley towards Lake Undine. The mighty Franklin River flows through the valley, having it's headwaters in the Chenye Range, and we kept to the east of the river as we picked our way through patches of Buttongrass. We soon came to a delightful area of walking, remnants of thousands of years of Aboriginal fire-stick farming (it reminded me greatly of Lee's Paddocks). We then headed a little more east into some easy walking situated in a grand rainforest. Spectacular Myrtles dominated, and at one point the forest was purely Celerytop Pine. I'd never seen a forest like that before.

We soon headed west and crossed the Franklin, and then the uphill began. A scrubby battle up to the summit of The Hippogriff was hard in the heat of the day. We saw a Tiger Snake wrapped in the bark on the side of a Snowgum, basking in the sun that we were cursing. A few small cliff lines made for a bit of fun in the otherwise slog of a walk, but we eventually poked out of the scrub just beneath the summit of The Hippo. We were on the summit a short time later, after 6 hours from leaving the car. From the summit it was a fairly easy walk down to Australia Tarn (more the size of a lake though...) and to the great camping on the western side of the outlet stream. We had a great swim, and enjoyed a cuppa while watching a snake swimming in the stream, looking for any tid-bits to eat. I slept very well that night.

A Steve in the forest.

A bushwalkers wet-dream!

Is this the internet?

A home among giants.

The mighty Franklin!

That's The Hippogriff up there!

Close to the top.

A beautiful Abel. Looking to Mt Gell.

'Straya Tarn.

Just keep swimming...

Day 2
A 5:30am alarm set us to be ready to start walking at 6:30am. With head-torches on we headed towards the end of Australia Tarn and the ridgeline that heads up towards the Gell plateau. The walking was pleasant, and already warm even though it was dark. We followed many wombat pads, weaving between the scrub. As I had expected, eventually when the ridge was located the wombat trails turned into a semi-trodden pad. This made for easy going up the ridge, and we were above the scrub line only an hour after leaving camp. With the sun rising, we were on the main ridge of Mt Gell, but headed first to the furthest Abel, the Chenye Range high point. Wonderful open walking lead us to a rocky outcrop, which was then descended from over scree towards more open walking. There was one small scrubby saddle at the lowest point between Gell and Chenye, and we'd heard it was going to be tough. We managed to find a really good line through it and it didn't prove to be much of an issue, only a few patches of bad scrub. The view from the summit of Chenye was wonderful, especially towards The Eldons, and in particular, Goulds Sugarloaf. We were very happy with our pace, having made the summit 4 hours after leaving camp.

After a little bit of time celebrating the summit, we re-traced our steps across the range towards Mt Gell. Just over an hour and a half later we were celebrating our second Abel of the day! The view, especially towards Frenchmans was glorious, and we spent close to half an hour soaking it in. We had plans to move camp that afternoon to the alpine herb-fields just below the summit of The Hippogriff (this was because we checked the weather on Mt Gell, and the next day had deteriorated to quite rainy). We headed back down the ridge to camp, arriving just before 4pm. A quick swim in the warm waters of Australia Tarn was had before breaking down camp and moving on for another hour. That evening we enjoyed watching the clouds change into brooding giants. What would the next day hold?...

Early morning bliss.

The Golden Hour.

Mt Byron in the distance looking sexy.

Heading to the Chenye Range high point.

In the scrub.

What a place...

Back to Gell now!

Frenchmans looking Frenchy.

My new tent!

Day 3
With the sound of light drizzle on the tent I awoke a bit after 7am. The dizzle slowly cleared up, although the broody sky remained for much of the day. At 8:30am we left, armored up in our rain gear; as much to keep us dry from the saturated bush as to aid in the scrub bash ahead. Our goal, The Chimera. Steve had already been there 5 years ago, and never though he'd head back, so I was grateful for the companion in the scrub. We descended down steeply to an open field between The Chimera and Hippogriff, and then kept on a bearing though the scrub til we reached a point to leave the bags and head for the summit. A bit under 2 hours after leaving, we had done the 2km to the top of The Chimera. A well earned rest before heading back to the packs and then bashing due east. The next 700m took us over an hour, and the only saving grace was that we were aided by gravity in our descent. Buggered, we emerged into an open Buttongrass field close to the Franklin River. We followed the field south for a while, before crossing the Franklin and completing our full circle as we soon reached the track at Lake Dixon. The last half an hour on the track was a doddle and we were stocked to reach the car 6 hours after leaving that morning. A walk well walked!

Wet Snow Gums... Love!

The man in blue.

That's The Chimera.

Brooding Gell.

Summit of The Chimera.

Ninja on a mountain!

Taking the steed to water.

41 left.


1 comment:

  1. Well done! What a marvellous trip...And the photos...Wow! The tent looks cosy too.