Larapinta Day 1

Day 1 – 8th Aug, Alice Springs YHA to Wallaby Gap

Wallaby Gap Campsite

  • Shelter with seats on the edges
  • One large rainwater tank
  • One outdoor toilet
  • Two separate raised platforms

Exposed, hot and high ascents (at the time).

The first ascent exposed the vast lands and ridges in the far distance on our left. We saw the beginnings of this beautiful Trail. The hike was tough as expected for our first day fully loaded with five days of food. Our packs weighed between 16-17kg. A few times we stopped under the limited shade around us hoping for some reprieve from the sun.

Wallaby Gap campsite had two raised metal platforms, Yushu and I dumped our packs on one while the others set theirs down in a more shaded area.

Near to the end of our first day hiking Trish began struggling. She was experiencing heat exhaustion from having her back brace on and limited shade. I assisted Trish to settle in at Wallaby Gap Campsite. After having her lay down in the shade, we encouraged her to drink more water containing hydro lite, a basic first aid practice. We set up her bed next to Simone and gave her space to recover. By this time, she was dry retching and was experiencing dizziness. After seeking shade and taking some of her layers off she was able to settle and later, eat. There was a moment during her experience where she thought she would not continue the hike if she were to continue feeling awful.

We hung out packs on metal makeshift hooks in the gazebo. Had our dinner and other promptly went to bed exhausted from day one’s effort.

I took the opportunity to boil some water with a bit of soap and head round to the toilets to bath myself with a chuck’s cloth, always a good idea for down their cleanliness.

Cowboy camping is awesome watching the stars on raised beds. You could still hear cars, cows, and planes in the distance.

ANUMC Led Snowshoe trip

Trip plan: Tate to Anton ANUMC (mountaineering club)

This overnight snowshoe trip focuses on exploring the high peaks of the Snowy Mountains between Mt Tate and Mt Anton. Weather permitting, it offers sweeping views, breath-taking in their immensity, across snow mantled mountains, deep valleys and the distant plains.  Starting at Guthega Village the route crosses the Snowy River at Guthega Dam and ascends to Guthega Trig (1859m), a strenuous climb of about 280m over 1.6km through scattered stands of snow gums. Passing beyond the tree line onto the exposed wind-swept slopes of the high mountains, the climb becomes gentler heading north to the crest of the Great Dividing Range at Consett Stephen Pass (~1900m) and from there to the summit of Mt Tate (2068m), the highest elevation of the trip. A further 5km of walking along the crest of the range, passing over or around Mann Bluff (2005m) and Mt Anderson (1997m), will bring us to Mt Anton (2010m). From Mt Anton a 400m descent over 3km takes us to the Snowy River which we will cross at the Illawong swing bridge. After a relatively gentle 3km level walk parallel to the Snowy River we’ll be back at Guthega Village. Total distance about 20km with about 1000m vertical.

Trip Leader: Mika

Featured photo by Mika Kontiainen

Status update the night before:

It’s currently snowing in the mountains and will continue to do so through to late Saturday. It could be windy on Saturday afternoon, but Sunday looks likely to clear to a mostly fine day.  The overnight temperature where we will be camping is likely to approach -10C.  I’ll provide further weather updates as we get closer to departure.

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The trip started with a 2-hour delay with students scrambling to get last minute alpine gear and snow tyres at Jindabyne village centre. Where we expected to have lunch out on the snow of Guthega trig, we ended up eating at the Guthega Village centre.

We set out on our snowshoe trip properly after lunch, 12:30 walking across the bridge and up towards Guthega trig on fresh snow from the night before.

As we got to the top of the ridge we are fortunate to briefly see the sweeping views before the visibility started to drop. This would be what our group leader Mika would call Type 1 fun.

This trip, we were grateful for trip leaders that communicated with us to explain what’s going on with the conditions. No matter much many times you check and read the weather in the alpines before the trip begins, mother nature is still going throw you a curve ball, the forecast was we were expecting the weather to settle in the afternoon as we set up camp.

Hiking past the tree line, on to exposed wind swept slopes where on a normal day you would get some wind what we experienced passing through was strong blinding gusts of wind blow snow into your exposed faces scratching as the wind starts to numb your cheeks.  This would be what Mika calls Type 2 fun…

It was 3pm, the agreed time to start finding a camp spot. The problem was that we had limited visibility and were experiencing strong winds; the group started to show signs of stress. Huddling together as the trip leader and his second in charge attempt to find a sheltered area from the wind but it was no use the weather was making it hard and some of the members were starting to get very cold, numb fingers and toes (a risk of frost bite in these conditions).

Unfortunately, the tail end of the front was stronger and slower than expected.

The trip leader had to reassess the camping situation and advised that we need to hike back where there was no wind. That meant, hiking past the worse wind channels back to the tree lines of Guthega trig point. It was there we made the decision 5pm where it was worth setting up camp or just hike back to the cars.

It was a big decision where the group was divided in staying and leaving. The trip leader made the decision for us to go back to the cars. Have a beer, a warm dinner and accept that this trip would not be a camping weekend, it was a lesson learnt on what mother nature throws at us even when you try to prepare for every scenario.

On the drive home, we looked up the weather conditions and found out that about 3pm Saturday, with the winds NW at 69km/h, gusting at 82km/h and an apparent temperature of -19C.

 

Things you learn from a trip like this as both a trip leader and an aspiring trip leader. It is braver in knowing when to call off a trip that has lost its fun and has a high-risk safety issue. Not matter what you do to prepare yourself and others for a hike, weather can and will change. You need to make the decision because the group is relying on your trip leader for guidance, if they cannot decide someone needs to step up and make the decision for them.

Instagram photos: Set 1, Set 2

 

 

Charlottes Pass to Mt Kosciuszko

In January, my friend Shell and I hiked the Main Range at Kosciuszko National Park. It was my friend’s first attempt at self-sustained hiking-camping and I was there as I had previous experience.

We registered at the Jindabyne Visitors Centre and hired a personal life beacon (PLB).  The rangers at the centre warned us of a cold front closing in that evening. We decided to continue, but with caution and contingency plans in mind.

We parked at Charlotte Pass, and there a ranger approached us.  He (She?) advised us that track to Blue Lake via the Snowy River  became impassable from the previous night’s heavy rainfall. With the ranger’s help we took an alternative route; backtracking towards Wilkinson’s Creek, passing Seaman’s Hut, which we could use if things turned bad.

For three hours we hired before reaching the hut.  Upon entering the hut, we met a group of dishevelled men stoking the fire to dry their clothes.  They had camped their from the night before, beginning their hike at 9pm and were caught in the downpour.  They were not prepared as most wore only running gear with nothing for the rain. The group have been friends for nearly twenty years and catch up annually to hike.  As unprepared as they were, they needed to make their way back, even if their clothes were damp. Shell and I told them of the ranger at the base of the mountain, if they needed the help.

Across the valley, you could see the low-laying clouds roll down the hills and across the track in thick blankets.  Shell said it was like the scenes from Game of Thrones, when the white walkers attack. Laughing, we kept joking about white walkers.

The hike was an easy 8km flat path to Mouth Kosciuszko, stopping frequently to snap photos of the spectacular views the National Park offered.

We were approached by rangers and the police if we had seen a group of young women wearing summer clothing during our walk.  We told them we hadn’t, but would keep an eye for them. It is common on nature reserves where extreme conditions occur and some travellers have not given enough research or preparation.  And when this happens, they need to be rescued.

After summiting the highest peak, Shell and I headed back down to Wilkinson’s Creek to find a place set up camp.  We found a beautiful location that overlooked the river, with large rocks to shelter the tents from the strong winds.  But after some dinner, the weather deteriorated. Shell agreed that we should make for Seaman’s hut. As we packed down our camp, the wind increased (later reported to be seventy kilometres per hour), then rain poured down, then hail, and then snow.  When we were about halfway there, a thick fog smothered us, and we were only able to see two metres in front of us.

At last light, we reached the hut.  We quickly built a fire in the draughty stove and hung everything up to dry.  We tried to sleep, but the wind howled through through the night, rattling windows and doors and screaming through the wood burner chimney.

The next morning, we could see snow on the doors and windows.  Exhausted from the stressful night, and finding the day in a snowstorm, we returned to car, instead of risking completing the circuit.

We we returned to the Visitor’s Centre to return the PLB, we heard that another group of hikers were rescued after their tents failed in the storm.

In the end, it didn’t go as planned, but Shell got some camping experience and I learned a new way to build a fire in draughty conditions. And we got to see some beautiful country with good company.

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Day Four to Five Windermere hut to New Pelion hut Overland Track 2017

Sponsors: Macpac.au, Strive food (Tassie), Safelaces, Moxigear, Hothands

The Trek: 64km over 7 days, 20kg pack, hut to hut through the rain, wind and snow.

Everyone relaxed in the warmth of Windemere hut, playing music and enjoying drinks as we watched the snow fall outside. Limited sleeping areas in this hut, our group were not so lucky finding a platform to sleep on having half sleeping on the floor, those that were able to sleep on platforms crammed in as many people. A platform for two was shared by the three smallest, and another was shared by two more.

The hike to New Pelion hut was a difficult 14.2km hike through the lowest part, Frog Flats to the 720m above sea level. Though the constant climbing over roots and watching your step is a constant challenge. The change of scenery was dramatic, from the open snowed covered moors, into a dense snow and moss-covered forest which changed into a very wet humid rainforest area. For many in our group this was the hardest of the hikes, mentally.

Arriving to the largest of the huts with a wide veranda that went around the entire hut, surrounded by wildlife with a view the snow-covered Mount Ossa was a treat. With a large hut comes noise in the eating area, there were quite a few people in this hut but no one slept on floors as some groups skipped this hut and went straight to Kia Ora.
The next morning to the group continued on to Pelion Gap where the She Devils agreed it was a ‘great idea’ to do a female empowerment pose topless in an open heavily snow-covered area whilst it was in fact snowing. (Helloo cover photos!)

Jane was the sensible member that took the photo. Go on you, Jane.

Social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/974531519319368/
https://www.facebook.com/shedeviltrekkers/
https://www.instagram.com/shedeviltrekkers/
https://shedeviltrekkers.wordpress.com

Day Two to Three Waterfall hut to Windemere hut Overland Track 2017

Sponsors: Macpac.au, Strive food (Tassie), Safelaces, Moxigear, Hothands

The Trek: 64km over 7 days, 20kg pack, hut to hut through the rain, wind and snow.

Staying in the warm Waterfall hut was a god send in this blizzard condition. Yes, the hut was packed, overcrowded due to lack of regulation during the winter months but that was part of the experience.

After finally reaching the hut, the girls helped me shed my cold drenched clothes and get warm in my dry thermals. After about 20 minutes of warming up, I was able to set about cooking a small assortment of hot meals for my lunch/dinner.

The She devils started covering any bare wooden ceiling raft with wet clothing, sleeping bags and tents to dry. Even going so far as to tie up rope for more additional hanging space to dry out everything else they owned.  Jane obsessed over evenly drying the clothes over the electric heater, teaching others that came in to help maintain it overnight.

Note: The heater has a 45-minute timer and requires 2 people to prime the heater and turn it on. These are available all most huts on the Overland trail. The heater will only work in 10 degrees of less on the build in thermostat.

That night over 30-40 people slept in the hut, many crammed on the wooden platforms, and any available floor space. The following morning, I found someone sleeping on the veranda that just had enough walls cover to kept most of the night’s snow storm off him.

Note: There was the older waterfall hut that could fit a smaller portion of people but did not contain any heating.

The next day, an 8km hike to Windemere Hut crossing gorgeous open areas covered in fresh snow. Mostly flat trails with the occasionally non-chicken wired platforms that made everyone take shuffling foot steps to cross.

Arriving to the hut and finding that most of the available sleeping platforms were taken. Three of us (Meg, Gill and I) were able to share a double sleeping platform but the rest of the group would have to sleep on the floor. That is until, we disturbed an old couple that did not want to deal with our ruckus and decided to the sleep in the tent outside, freeing up another double for Janet and Jane to share.

That night we drank, played card games and listening to music on the Bluetooth speakers. Glad to be in another warm hut away from the snow fall outside.

Social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/974531519319368/
https://www.facebook.com/shedeviltrekkers/
https://www.instagram.com/shedeviltrekkers/
https://shedeviltrekkers.wordpress.com/

Overland Info:
http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=7827

 

Gibraltar Peak

Gibraltar Peak hike, a 17km day hike clockwise from the Tidbinbilla Visitor’s centre including circumnavigation of Mt Eliza, the Congwarra trail, and unintentional 2 bonus hills. The first of many Jay and Shell adventures.

Using the Avenza maps app, which didn’t show some of the walking tracks, and the Visitor’s Centre brochure that didn’t show topography other than rivers, we went east from the Visitor’s Centre to bonus hill 1 (760m above sea level). After getting back on the right track we climbed to the saddle between Mt Eliza and Gibraltar Peak and had morning tea at a really unique picnic table made from local trees.

Climbing up to Gibraltar Peak (1040m) there were lots of granite tors to climb, ranging in size from car to house sized. They were rounded and weathered, and hollow sounding in some places. The peak is a sacred Aboriginal site where men would gather to teach and share cultural lore. The top was rocky, with views of the Tidbinbilla range partially hidden by fog, and a short tunnel between rocks on the very top.

Down, then west to the Dalsetta carpark, through peppermint gums, grasslands, and kangaroos. Thanks to misleading signage we ended up on bonus hill 2, Turkey Hill (760m). Retracing our steps, we took the Congwarra trail along the river. June is the best time to find fungi in the area, and we saw lots of unusual fungi that looked like everything from cauliflower to dried leaves.

Kangaroos bounded ahead along the track, and scattered into the (shallow) river and the bush. We returned to the Visitor’s Centre by going east along the foot of Mt Eliza, where there were even more kangaroos. Overall it was a challenging hike through beautiful country with lots to discover and climb.

Written by Shell from streamgenerator.com

Honeysuckle campground to Booroomba Rocks hike

Honeysuckle campground to Booroomba Rocks hike, 10-11km return. Another Jay and Shell adventure.

Starting from the Honeysuckle campground, we walked along part of the Australian Alps Walking Track to the Booroomba Rocks carpark. This section of the track meandered through damp eucalypt forest with lots of moss and lichen. Lots of the lichen and small plants were frozen and distorted, and there was frost in the shade.

July is a magical time to do this hike. We saw needle ice on the track, which is formed by frozen water pushing up through the dirt. About two-thirds of the way to the Booroomba Rocks carpark was a huge granite slab, dotted with pools of ice. These, and the needle ice, were fun to play with and walk on.

Up until Booroomba Rocks carpark we hadn’t seen anyone else on the track. The climb from the carpark to Booroomba Rocks was very popular, and the top was covered with people. We bush-bashed through scrub and rocks to the iconic rocky top. Eventually we found an unoccupied flat lunch spot with views towards Black Mountain. Here, at the very top of Booroomba Rocks, it was still sunny and warm enough for plants to flower, even though the wind was a bit too cold for us.

The climb down was fun, we really tested the limits of our hiking poles and descended fast. The icy pools at the granite slab were still mostly frozen in the afternoon, though starting to thaw around the edges. Overall a great adventure in a beautiful and frosty playground.

Written by Shell from streamgenerator.com