Collins Cap 2015 Aug

Russell Falls – not a bad alternative to playing in the snow.
With a good dumping of snow forecast for the weekend, it was hard to choose where to go to capitalise on this wonder. The best snow seemed to be for Mt Field, so we planned to go there. Luckily, I threw my Wellington Ranges map into the car, just in case. I say “luckily”, as we gave little forethought to the fact that we were going to the snow in a 2WD; that is not always a good idea. We don’t even own any chains that fit it. (Our 4WD was out of action this weekend).

Lady Barron Falls, looking very dramatic with so much water

I did actually get almost to the Lake Dobson Carpark, but there was a lot of snow, and I was nervous about hanging around. If conditions got one iota worse up there – which tends to happen in snow storms – then we were in a pickle. We retreated, admired (and photographed) two wonderful waterfalls, and then drove to Hobart, resorting to my plan B for the morrow, which was to climb Collins Cap.

I was rather excited to see that there was snow in the Myrtle Forest picnic area car park as we pulled in. This boded well. I looked forward to seeing the cascading creek with its banks decked in snow. It did not disappoint. I wondered about the creek crossings that lay ahead – how icy and slippery they might be – but left that as a problem for later.  As it turned out, they were manageable – just.

The second crossing – the easier of the two.

Just before the second crossing, we met a jolly trio of HWC members, whose footsteps in the snow we’d been following the whole time. Unfortunately they had turned around just after the creek, and were on their way back to the car. Somehow, in weather like that it’s nice to think of someone “up there” ahead of you; someone else wild enough to be on the mountain in snow with further storms forecast. Now the only footprints in the snow were those made by Paddymelons and wombats. I find it endearing that the animals of the forest choose to use the pathways created by humans for humans. They are smart enough to pick that these routes offer the least resistance to forwards movement. Once, after a snowstorm on Cradle, I was on the boardwalk following tiny footprints in the snow, and here I was doing it again. The path was not marked on the trees. I was deciding on its whereabouts by picking the clearest line through the vegetation – a method that became harder the higher we climbed, as vegetation thinned out.

There’s the best line. Straight through that puddle.

My husband got to follow my prints.

The beautiful rainforest, firstly characterised by ferns and later by small pandani plants with snowy caps on, eventually ceded to burnt out snow gums, especially once we’d crossed the fire trail. Climbing in some sections was very steep indeed. I guessed there were rocks under the snow, as otherwise I think we would have slipped downhill a bit. My foot found it easy to kick into or onto something horizontal despite the severe angle of the snow.

Clouds began encircling us; visibility lessened. Just as my husband’s “I think we should turn around” kind of noises increased, I gasped. Up ahead I could see that every single tree and bush had a glorious coating of ice. We were in fairy land. Sorry, but I was not turning around in the presence of beauty such as this. As long as it didn’t actually snow, I knew the way down would be much quicker than our ascent, not just because of not fighting gravity, but also because I was doing all the step kicking and all the route finding on the way up. As long as I could follow our own footsteps down, the task would be halved. On we marched.


Fagus adorned in white, sparkling jewellery.

Nearly there. B taking the lead so I could take a photo of his back as the ground levelled out for the summit.
As I suspected, the way down was almost lightning fast. Speeds in the snow on the way up had been extraordinarily slow, which is why the other group had turned back. You needed to be prepared to take twice the normal time to factor in for step kicking, general caution and deciding where the track might be once things got vague. I had fun in the snow. I would have liked to use my macro lens on some of the formations, but moving was a high priority in those conditions.

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