Tim Shea 2019 Jan

Mt Tim Shea: a sad substitute for the Denison Ranges 2019 Jan

It is really hard for me to get away these days, but I had booked my dog into a kennel for four days and was ready to climb onto the Denison Range, sleeping on Great Dome night one, climbing Bonds Craig and more day two, and maybe out or maybe more climbing for the remainder. I had Tessie booked in for the extra in case I was out late or felt like an extra day. The web said the Rhona track was open. Off I set.

It’s a long drive down south to the start beyond Maydena, and just as I neared my goal, keen to be underway at last, I got turned around. Fires had become reinvigorated near Lake Rhona, so I couldn’t proceed further. It was, by this time, about 3.30. So, I had driven all this way; what was I to do? I had never been up Mt Tim Shea (opposite The Needles) before, and it was nearby. I had had enough of driving: decision made. I repacked my bag, and up I went.

The map didn’t indicate that any water would be available, so I took plenty, and, as it wasn’t all that far, I lugged my heaviest tripod. Luckily I was on top in less than an hour. I was, nonetheless, very hot indeed, and glad to be finished.

Although the views were excellent, it was heartbreaking to see how very close the fires were to Bonds Craig and Lake Rhona. I could smell the smoke from where I was, and could see it billowing from the mountains all too close to the fragile area of my original destination.

 My darling second-born daughter phoned while I was in range on top to check up on me, and was most anxious as to my well-being, but I promised her the wind was not blowing in exactly my direction (I tested that one at regular intervals), and that if I felt in any danger at all, I would rush down (much faster than I’d ascended, as I’d throw the water out first).

Despite the fires, I had a fabulous time photographing, given that clouds of a delicate pink were floating all around. I pondered the next few nights: I still had two remaining after this one, so was wondering how to spend them. It has been a very long time since I have visited Mt Field West, and I have never slept actually on this mountain (only on nearby k-col), so I decided to check in at Mt Field NP next morning to find out the state of play for my new plan B. I was told there that almost everything I wanted to do was either out of bounds or “not advised”, as they feared, for example, that if I went to Mt Anne (Plan C) or the Western Arthurs (Plan D), I’d need to be evacuated. They’d prefer to save themselves the bother.

Plan E it was; I decided I had little choice but to drive the long haul to Lake St Clair, and sleep on the Mt Hugel shelf. As it turned out, I was so hot and bothered I just camped at Shadow Lake. A total fire ban meant I couldn’t cook dinner; the wind was unpleasantly strong, and temperatures were uncomfortable. Next morning I gave up and returned home a day early. Tessa was delighted.

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