Inglis Escarpment 2024 Apr

Inglis escarpment is not a name on the map, but where we went has no name, and I had to call this blog something, so I settled on Inglis Escarpment: after all, Mt Inglis was up behind us and we were on a wonderful escarpment with grandstand views, so hence I have given the area that blog name so I can refer to it.

Ramaria samuelsii. Not too many fungi, but at least we got some.
Adrian out the back of Cradle
Me. Thanks Adrian

I went with my waterfall bagging friend, Adrian. As with our last trip, we had hoped all four of our group could come, but Caedence is off playing cricket in England (congratulations) , and Leandra had other commitments, so the group was whittled down to two.

Nothofagus gunnii doing its thing.
Pretty waterfall

Our basic plan was to spend more time in the beautiful Bluff River Valley, and revisit Tomahawk Falls. That was the reason given, but really, we both just love spending time in off-track wilderness, imbibing new views and enjoying new vistas on the grand scale, and delighting in the minutiae of nature closer up.

Russula persanguinea plus a waterfall. does it get better than that?
Bit of water bashing, bit of scrub bashing … our idea of fun.

To get off track there, you have to first swallow a fair bit of the Overland Track with its necessary boards and stonework, but we dealt with that pretty efficiently. It hurts the feet, but at least you move through it fairly quickly, and the scenery is still lovely. We had our first short break at Kitchen Hut, another even shorter at the Igloo, and an early lunch somewhat near the Lake Will turnoff, before heading off in that direction to begin other wanderings.

The wise girl pitched her tent upon the rock??? And the wiser man pitched his near a protective bush. No problems: no wind was forecast and no wind came. Thanks for the lovely shot Adrian.
Taken from my tent. Talk about lazy.

As you can see from the photos, we visited pretty waterfalls, and got a marvellous sunset. I have to confess that several photos were taken from inside my tent, as it was starting to get pretty cold after the sun had set. We were so busy exploring nearer falls that we didn’t have time to get to Tomahawk on day 1.

Innes Falls
Sunset. Inglis Escarpment. Sigh. This is also taken from my tent, as it was now getting very cold.

This was intended to be a four-day trip, but when we awoke to rain on day two, and saw the latest forecast was for rain for all the rest of the trip, we decided that we didn’t want to photograph in the rain, and neither did we want to hang around in our tents doing nothing. Walking out in the wet is much nicer than sitting being inactive, so we packed up our gear and returned home, saving Tomahawk for another trip.

Time for man to go home. Lake Will.

Adrian’s stats say we walked 60,000 steps in the two days. My watch says we did 10 hours 40 mins pack-carrying walking (not including any breaks or non-pack exercise), the time pretty much divided evenly between the two days. This was a nice amount of exercise. The rain wasn’t too heavy; the world is good. We both felt perfectly content that the trip had been worth it.

Walford Peak and Marble Bluff 2024 Feb

I have often stared at Walford Peak and wanted to climb it. Last year I organised to do so, but problems cropped up at the last minute.  And for some reason, Marble Bluff seems to have bad street cred (it is rather a scrubby beast), so it has also been on the to do list, but to no avail. I looked down on it from the summit of Eldon Peak in 2018 and very much wanted to see its view, but was told it was very hard to reach. Well, it wasn’t a piece of cake, but neither was it overly taxing. Let the actual adventure begin ….

Spicer Track crossing Anthony R, a bit over an hour into the trip.

Here we were, all keen for time in the wilderness and these two mountains in particular. It was to be a five-day trip, as we were also going to explore the Sticht Range. I knew I was running-fit, but last week in the Jubilee Ranges made me question whether I was also pack-carrying fit. That ingredient was gong to be rather essential on this expedition. I set out with uncertainty.

Lake Spicer Track over Anthony R

The plan for day 1 (begun after lunch because of driving time) was to walk along Lake Spicer Track until we arrived at just the right place to camp for the first night. The aim was not to go all the way to the lake itself, as we were expecting rather a hefty storm the next night, and the level of the lake might rise enough to turn tents into cute islands in the lake, if the strong winds didn’t blow them down first. We needed a sheltered spot that neither wind nor rain could mar.

Walford Peak view to Mt Murchison, Lake Plimsoll and Lake Rolleston

There was no sign right now of the storm to come. The sky was blue; the day was glorious. Crossing the many creeks and puddles was picturesque and enjoyable, and gave plenty of drinking opportunities. Thus, when we reached the high point on the track just below Walford Peak in just a tad over two hours’ walking time (on the agenda for a later day on the rebound), it was decided not to waste such beautiful weather, and climb it right now. I was thrilled. We dumped our packs and up we went. The bush was pretty thick, but it yielded to energetic shoves, and in a shade under forty minutes, we were at the top. Everything looked glorious from up there. The many lakes in our purview shone with sparkling blue iridescence; countless well-loved peaks towered above with clarity.

Walford Peak view to the Sticht Range (Right) and Lake Plimsoll and Mr Murchison (Left).

Back down on the track once more, descending to our eventual campsite was fun, as said track turned into a creek with cascades that were rather pretty. Soon enough we were beside Lake Dora, and agreed that a point on the road that was a bit of a knoll would be a great place to stop. We had been on the track for about three hours, and had also done eighty minutes without packs to climb Walford Peak, but for some reason that wasn’t quite enough for me, so I went and explored the track further after dinner, and climbed a small bluff for kicks. The view was excellent. Maybe my problem was that I had just eaten the worst dehydrated meal I can remember. The packet said it was vegetarian shepherd’s pie, but it was sickly sweet and made me feel very dissatisfied.

Descending back to the track. Lakes Rolleston and Plimsoll, and Mt Murchison behind.
Ultricularia dichotoma near our tents.

By the dawn of day two, you could tell that the weather was changing. The air had mood and attitude, and clouds were assembling. We finished off the Lake Spicer track quickly enough, and then began the somewhat long climb up onto Unconformity Ridge. That ascent contained probably the thickest scrub of the day. Once we reached the ridge itself, the terrain varied from patches of thick scrub to long areas of smaller bushes with button grass, both knee to waist high.  Only the very last bit was easy going. The actual moving time (ie, breaks not included) was around 3 hours 40 minutes total in each direction, from tent to summit and back (3 hrs 10 off-track). On top of that time, we had a few breaks so everyone could be comfortable, often eating, or just chatting and looking at the view.

Lake Spicer Track. Yes, this water is the track.
Another watery view of Lake Spicer Track

Luckily, we got to inhabit the summit area without rain, but the wind was so strong that hats went flying, and we all huddled for shelter on the leeward side of rocks to have our lunch. The view was disappointingly hazy, not just from approaching bad weather, but also from fires in the Central Highlands. I didn’t take many photos.

We reach Lake Spicer. From here on, it’s all bushbashing

Half an hour after summitting, we were off on the descent, trying, but failing, to beat the oncoming rain. By the time we hit the track, it was raining properly. I was pretty wet on arrival back at the tent. We tried to dry wet garments in the breeze while we had dinner, but things remained quite damp, although no longer dripping.

Marble Bluff view to the north. Eldon Peak towers behind

That night, as I lay in bed, I enjoyed the sound of very angry wind howling above me, often lifting me off the ground as if I were on a magic carpet. It was rather fun. However, a toothache that had been brewing over the preceding days was particularly painful, so I didn’t get much sleep.

Marble Bluff view to the to south: Lake Burbury, Mts Lyell, Owen, Huxley and Jukes

On day three, the rain had settled in. I decided I needed to attend to my tooth as soon as possible, so bailed out of the rest of the agenda, and dashed back to the car. I made it in under three hours, not bothering with any breaks seeing’s I was alone, and find no particular pleasure in sitting in the rain to rest. I drove to where I had reception, made an appointment to see my dentist and bought the strongest pain killers I was allowed (I don’t usually use such things).  Right now, it is the middle of the night, but my pain is so great I can’t sleep. I sure made the right decision to come home. The Sticht Range, object of today’s agenda, will just have to wait for another day. My gear was saturated when I reached the car, but I arrived home to a desperately dry Launceston.
Next day (today as I write) I had to have my wisdom tooth extracted. Leaving early was more than a good idea!

Jubilee Range 2024 Feb

Over ten years ago, I said in my blog that I would like to return to the Jubilee Range, not only to reach the actual high point, but also, and far more importantly, to sleep up there. For me, sleeping on high and witnessing dawn and dusk are the essential elements of a satisfying wilderness experience. A single day pop-in doesn’t have nearly the same effect on me.

The road walk in : 3.5 kms. Photo cred: Adrian Bol. (White pants did not stay white).

Luckily for me, one of my waterfall hunting friends, Adrian,  had decided he wanted to check out some falls way at the far end of the range, between it and Nevada Peak. He planned a trip with four of us eager beavers in mind, but two dropped out. I feared our speed difference would make the trip boring for him, but he disagreed and encouraged me to continue, so off we set. Thanks mate. He knew I needed the restorative powers of the wilderness to soothe my soul a bit. Nothing like pushing your way through dense melaleuca and bauera, piercing your skin with cutting grass, and goose-stepping over high button grass to soothe the soul. The steep climb in debilitating heat no doubt also contributed to distracting me from the state of my soul. I drank 5 litres of water on day one!!! Pity all the creeks were dry!

Jubilee Range campsite.

Our cause was not helped by the fact that the road is now impossible and impassable beyond the Styx crossing. We had to walk 3.5 kms to get to the actual start, which added over an hour in each direction.

Jubilee Range Adrian’s tent

Luckily, we kind of had enough water to make it to Mt Jubilee. Progress was very slow, and every time we stopped, I needed another 500 mls – far more than on the Larapinta trail, where I drank 250 mls/hr. After one hour, first break, we had covered a mere single kilometre. This dd not bode well for our overall plans. We could only do whatever it was we could do. On we pressed. Up through the thick, resisting muck. More water disappeared from our bottles.

Jubilee Range day 2 begins.

I started to worry about the future of this trip. We had already consumed so much water that we didn’t even have enough for dinner. If we didn’t find water by the summit of Mt Jubilee, I decided, we would need to turn back. Our whole trip depended on finding a source of water somewhere up high, but as all creeks had been dry, the prospects did not look good.

Jubilee Range: tarn below “Lunch Bluff” on “Endless Tarn Ridge”.

The slope looked like it was at  last levelling out. Our climbing trials were nearly over. We were going to crest the slope near a rocky, bluffy sort of arrangement, with Mt Jubilee itself just slightly to our left, only a couple of minutes away. I dumped my pack unceremoniously on the ground and looked to my left as I turfed it. Unbelievably, hidden behind the deep green of knee-high bushes was a tiny, tannin coloured, yet pure and clean, tarn. Our trip was saved. Yahooooo. Adrian dumped his pack, and we drank, and drank and drank. I needed more, so added two more protein drinks to the couple of litres I’d just gulped. Off we set on the 5-min ‘trip’ to Mt Jubilee. On top it was nice, but I was still thirsty, so had to return to the tarn for more water and two “post workout smoothies”.

Jubilee Range day 2. The Pool sort of near Lunch Bluff. Nevada Peak behind.

It was only mid-afternoon by the time we had explored our first summit and drunk to our hearts’ content, but I was finished for the day. It had taken five walking hours from the car to where we were, and I have not done any pack carrying or bush bashing for many months. The plan had been to sleep near the actual high point of the range, but Adrian kindly agreed to sleep where we were. By this stage, I needed a cup of soup. I really was a hard case this day. Adrian had a cup of tea, and we spent the rest of the time between then and sunset climbing knobs and bobs nearby, of which there were plenty, eating more, and setting up our tents. I was so exhausted, and so out of practice, it seemed to take forever just to get my tent up. Sunset was pretty OK, but not exactly what we’d ordered. That’s part of the beauty of nature: it is unpredictable, so you just never know what it will deliver.

Jubilee Range sunset night 2. Mt Anne and friends behind.

The next morning, an inversion layer had been predicted in some weather app. The predictors were wrong. We awoke to heavy, blanketing mist. I had set my alarm for 5.45. I peeped out my window, groaned and rolled over in my bag. Every time I checked, there was no improvement. Near 7, I checked on Adrian’s tent. We decided we would keep our tents where they were and just do a day walk. There was no point in lugging them higher in mist like this.

Jubilee Range dawn Day 3.

We walked for seven hours this day (plus stops), covering territory that we have never seen photographed or blogged (beyond the Jubilee Ra High Point). We explored “Endless Tarn Ridge”, “Neighbour Ridge” and Lunch Bluff, and photographed Special Tarn, Sibling Tarns, The Pool and more. There were far too many tarns to name; even far too many tarns to photograph them all, although we made a pretty fair attempt at that. By the end of seven hours’ exercise, I was glad to be returning to our tents. If nothing else, I was hungry for an early dinner.

Jubilee Range dawn day 3.

This night, sunset delivered, and the next morning, we got the inversion layer we’d wanted the day before, along with glorious colour. It was very well worth the early rise. Again, we climbed assorted knobs and bluffs for different vantage points, and shot happily until our fingers dropped off and the sun rose, and it was time for porridge.

Jubilee Range dawn day 3
Jubilee Range dawn day 3.

It was glorious walking with the mist lingering below us. The scrub was still very thick, but descending makes it a bit easier. There was one section where it took us 15 minutes to cover 80 metres (the final creek crossing – quite a bitch).
I normally hate roads, but the concrete pipe that marked the end of bashing and the start of the road was perceived by us at that moment as a thing of great beauty. We cheered and gave each other a high five, had a break (drink) and then took the road (mossy covered, fern filled and shady) as quickly as we could. We both had an urgent appointment with the Possum Shed for lunch.

Jubilee Range. The descent.

Markham Heights Ben Lomond

We didn’t choose Markham Heights on Ben Lomond for our Wednesday walk specifically because it was the shortest day of the year, and we also didn’t quite choose it because it was possibly the coldest day of the year so far (it was minus 8 as we passed through Blessington), but because the minus 5 we were expecting on top would be a lot nicer and safer with 30 cms snow on the rocks than where we had been going, which would probably just be a dangerous expanse of ice rime.

Blessington Valley
Blessington Valley

Meanwhile, I was, at the time of the decision, disappointed, as I had been looking forward to the original destination. Through the dark I drove, heading for the Ben Lomond National Park. My spirits picked up considerably as the sun began to rise and I saw the scenes of some of the photos here. I also nearly skittled a deer which ran across directly in front of me, and also nearly had a collision with a black shadow on the road which turned out to be a cow. Needless to say, with temperatures so low, the road was very icy and I was not familiar with its dangerous points, so drove pretty slowly after those two scares.

Off we set. Markham Heights leering down at us
Climbing higher
And higher
Ben Lomond patterns in the snow

I have always wanted to camp under Ben Lomond to photograph the rocks at sunrise. Even though the sun had already risen, the rocks were still delightfully red on my arrival, so while the others did practical things like putting on boots and more coats and beanies, I dashed out and photographed rock. Hey; who needs to go to Central Australia for red rock? We have it a-plenty right here in Tasmania if we get up early enough (or hang around in rocks until sunset). Dolerite, the predominant rock in most of the state, colours up beautifully at the extreme ends of the day.

Snowy scene
Unnamed knob. Dave arrives.
Sue climbs

The rest of the day was a visual treat, seeing magnificent scenes of snow on bushes or rocks or windswept mini ridges.  We had morning tea on an unnamed knob, and lunch on Markham Heights, and assorted snacks here and there to spin out the day. My coils came off and another friend lost one of his mini spikes, so three of us got extra exercise retracing our steps, which also added nicely to the exercise value of the day, and the time spent moving in the white wonderland. I didn’t enjoy the stationary snack times as much as, well, minus 5 is minus 5, and even with 5 layers of warm clothing on, that is still cold.  When I’m moving, I’m fine. Here is a small collection of scenes from the day. I hope you enjoy them.

Dolerite from Markham Heights

Tullah region wanderings

Two friends and I spent three days in the Tullah region, climbing this and that, sleeping high and sleeping low. It’s a great area for exploring.

Camping high

Unfortunately, it has too often been my observation that pretty photos with names and locations attached have inspired the wrong sort of people to flood our beautiful wilderness and thereby ruin it. The Western Arthurs and the Walls of Jerusalem are two extreme cases in point.

Summit of Red Hills. I don’t mind naming this one, as it is not dramatic in an insta sense of the word; it is worth NO points; it is thus a thoroughly pointless exercise, ha ha. Not for us.
Mycena interrupta never fails to entrance

And who are the wrong sort of people? People who have not been taught any bushcraft and have made no effort to learn any; people for whom the words “Leave no trace” are a foreign language; people who seem to think that it’s just fine to spoil fragile areas now that they have seen them themselves; people whose sole aim in being there is to take some insta-photo and exit, without ever stopping to understand the place where they are; people whose sole concern is the self, who don’t care about the people who live near the area, or the children and ones yet to be born who might want to see the place. In short, shallow, selfish people.

Lake Herbert seen from above

For some of us, these regions are our quasi “holy places”. They are places where we revive our spirits and refresh our souls; where we take time out to connect with the wider natural environment. They are not just precious to us: they are essential to our mental and spiritual wellbeing. They are not just huge playgrounds (which they are also. Give me a mountain rather than a gym and treadmill any day, thanks!!).

Core rise
Up high

My lack of blogs over the summer has had nothing to do with any inactivity on my part – I seem to have lived in the wilderness this summer – but rather due to my not wanting to over-popularise the beautiful areas I have been in. These spots are, or rather, were, our playgrounds, but we are now being locked out of them so that the tourists can come in and spoil them. They have been turned into a money-making commodity.

Entoloma discrepans I believe
Dead tree – great caption huh.

Thus I don’t want to aid and abet that process by being too specific about anything much other than indicating “Tullah region”. If you can enjoy photos of beauty that don’t specify location, then please enjoy these examples of what our amazing planet has to offer to those who have worked on their fitness, and acquired bush skills to survive in lonely and challenging locations. We left no trace. Keep tassie Wild.

Mycena epipterygia
Sleeping high