Friday, 9 March 2018

Frenchmans Cap and the Spartan Princess

7th -9th March 2018

Frenchmans Cap

Day 1
With my only aspiration for the day to make the easy stroll once again to Lake Vera; I left home at 9:00am, and after a quick lunch stop at The Hungry Wombat, I started walking at 12:30pm. It was a clear day, and quite warm, especially in the buttongrass fields. I took three and a half hours to walk to the lake and a swim was most appreciated when I got there. I spent the afternoon talking with others who were in the area. In the late evening my friend and occasional bushwalking buddy, Steve rocked up. He had spent 4 days out around the Cap, climbing some mountains. I got some helpful advice from him on Clytemnestra, which he had just summited that day. I went to bed excited at the day to follow, knowing the weather was to be superb!

The Cap.

Day 2I woke up at 6:00am (thanks alarm), and had a quick breakfast, prepared my lunch, and packed my things for the day. I was striding out of camp at 6:45am, coasting through the rainforest that banks Lake Vera by the light of my head torch. I made very good going on the steep hill up Barron Pass, having only a day pack and the advantage of walking in the cool morning. I made the pass only an hour after leaving my tent. I paused for a snack and to soak in the view, Frenchmans and Clytemnestra in full morning glow. Another 45 minutes of walking and I arrived at Lake Tahune, where I met the builders who are busy constructing the new hut! They let me have a look inside, very fancy. I wasn't surprised when I heard that Frenchmans will indeed become a ticketed walk ($90 per person). After a 15 minute break there, I headed up the Cap. It is a steep but easy walk, and very fun. This was the third time I'd climbed Frenchmans (although, I hadn't 'bagged' it in this round of Abeling yet), and I don't think it would ever get old. I took 40 minutes from Lake Tahune to reach the summit, and paused for a good 30 minutes on top.

Around 10:00am I set off for Clytemnestra. I knew there were some routes directly off the south of the Cap, but dubious of the cliffs I opted for the route down the western col. I picked up a good pad, marked by regular cairns as the ridge became more defined. This easy going, but steep route delivered me into the beautiful basin at the south-western foot of Frenchmans. Here I filled up water in a tarn, and then made my way up to the high ridge connecting the Cap with Clytemnestra. Once I was on the first knoll on this ridge, the going was very easy. Super open walking, with views in all directions; heaven. The walk up the final slabbed portion of Clytemnestra was fun and simple and I was on the summit only an hour and forty five minutes after leaving the Cap. Much quicker than I expected... That was fine though, as it gave me an opportunity to spend close to an hour sitting on the mountain. It was bliss.

I re-traced my steps going back over Frenchmans, taking a bit more time to get back up there as there was considerably more uphill involved in the return walk. But it was nice to summit Frenchmans again. About 5 minutes after I started descending on the track, I had one of the best wildlife experiences of my life, having a Tasmanian Wedge-Tail Eagle soar within a few metres of me, and then LAND! Just there! I could almost reach it! We both eyed each other for a few minutes before it set flight again. And I set walk again. On my walk back to Lake Vera, I passed another Abel lover and we had a good chat about all things Tasmanian mountains. I was back at my tent by 5:30pm, after a long, but fantastic day. Another swim in the lake beckoned...

Rainforest in the morning light.

Morning fog nestled over the Livingston Rivulet valley.

A stunning pair. Clytemnestra on the left and Frenchmans on the right.

Looking to the Cradle Mountain National Park peaks.

Looking up at Frenchies from Lake Tahune.

The new hut under construction!

Such fun scrambling!

The open summit.

On top of Frenchmans, looking at Clytemnestra.

Walking off the summit to the west.

Small tarns with Lake Sophie in the back.

On the ridge. Beautiful walking.

Frenchman towering above.

Beautiful geology.

The humble summit cairn of Clytemnestra!

Look at that. Amazing.

Looking to Barron Pass.

OHMYGOSH! So close!

Home sweet home.

Day 3
The birds woke me up, and it wasn't long before I had had breakfast, packed up, and was heading out. The mist was thick, and the air crisp. Perfect weather to stride out 17kms of walking. I hiked back to the car in a little over 3 hours, smiling all the way. I love you Tasmania.

14 left.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Mt Achilles and Perrins Bluff

25th - 26th February 2018

Mt Achilles
Perrins Bluff

Day 1
As some of you may know, I am lucky to be able to bushwalk for a living as a tour guide. The company I work for (Tasmanian Walking Company a.k.a Cradle Huts) has recently put on a new role at Pelion Plains as a Hut Host, where someone walks in the Arm River and looks after groups that come down the overland. This gives the guides some time off on their third night and forth morning. I was half way through a 7 day hut host shift when a night came where no group would arrive at the hut; I had a night off baby! And, my ankle is healing really, really well.

After fare-welling a group and finishing all my morning duties around the hut, I quickly packed my bag for an impromptu mission. The weather forecast had said that there would be rain on my period of time with no groups, but I brought my overnight walking gear just in case. As luck would have it the front passed over early and it was a beautiful day! I left the hut around 10am, and headed north up the overland, passing the New Pelion Hut. After 30 minutes of walking I reached the small notch in a tree, painted yellow, that denotes the Mt Thetis Track. Having done this track a few times I didn't really rely too much on following the track, as the going through the forest isn't hard. An hour after leaving the hut I was on the open coral fern shoulder that leads up towards Paddys Nut. The walk from there to the top of Mt Thetis only took another 90 minutes, and was really enjoyable. I had some lunch on Mt Thetis, and surveyed my route for the afternoon. After that short break, I headed off towards the steep and narrow ridge that drops off the western side of Mt Thetis to Leonards Tarn, bashing through the final scrubby section before reaching the idyllic campsites at the tarn. I set up my tent beneath some shady Fagus and had another short snack break.

At 2:30pm I headed off from my tent to go climb some mountains. I clambered around the south eastern slope of Mt Achilles to a chute of loose scree that made for quick access to the top, and made the summit only half an hour after leaving the tent. I was so happy to be on a mountain, in good health, and in good weather. And to have another one to look forward to that afternoon? Well... I had about 15 minutes of summit time (shorter than I would've liked, but I didn't know how long I'd need to Perrins and return) before heading down towards the saddle between the two Abels. It was lovely walking through the low herb field and scoparia, with a few tarns studded here and there. I went wide to the west of the first knoll of Perrins, keeping below the rocky ridge, and above the snowgum forest. I found a good point to rise to the ridge after a few hundred meters and came out just north of the low saddle in the ridge. I looked south to the summit, and it looked lovely. From there I followed cairns that took me on the west side, and then east side of the ridge, before delivering me at the summit at about 4:45pm. Not a breath of wind. Perfect. I spent about 40 minutes on the summit, knowing I had plenty of time to get back to the tent before dark. On the walk back, I sidled right beneath Mt Achilles and walked through some beautiful open grassy areas, a sight to behold.

I slept well that night.

Good morning to be out and about, ay mate.

Mt Oakleigh through the trees.

Track junction.

Paddys Nut and Mt Thetis.

Atop Mt Thetis, looking towards Mt Achilles.

My campsite, with Perrins Bluff behind.

The summit of Mt Achilles.

Such a great view!

The Eldons.

Looking up towards Perrins Bluff.

The narrow ridge to the top.

Great little summit cairn.

Beautiful snaking ridge.

Mt Achilles.

Day 2
I awoke at 6:30am and was packed and ready to go by 7:00am. I was unsure of how long it would take me to get down, so I wanted to give myself as much time as I could before I had to start work again at 2pm. I followed the outlet creek of Leonards Tarn, first following a rough pad, but losing that as the scrub got thicker. No matter, I just had to follow the water. I descended steadily as the creek got bigger when more water joined it. Ducking in and out of Buttongrass and Bauera fields, and rainforest, the walking was lovely and swift. After another larger creek joined the one I was following a large canon became the focus of my interest, with many amazing waterfalls hiding between thick trunks of Horizontal and Myrtle. Soon I came to the confluence of the Forth River and the creek I had been following, and from there the water became more calm and broad, and walking along the bank was easier with taller trees abundant. I joined the Overland Track at Frog Flats after only 2 hours of walking from Leonards Tarn. By 10am I was back at the hut, having a glass of black current juice, some sliced pineapple, and a shower. All with a stupidly big smile on my face at how much fun I'd just had.

Mt Oakleigh in the morning fog.

One of the many waterfalls.

I meet the mighty Forth.

Frog Flats.


16 left.