April 7, 2006

Frenchmans Cap

Senior Walkers

Access to the area is located some 200 km from Hobart on the Lyell Highway and 54 km from Queenstown, where a signpost indicates the commencement of the walking track. Vehicles may be left in the space provided near the track entrance. The track crosses a small expanse of button grass before descending to the Franklin River, which can be crossed by a swinging bridge. There is also a route to the Cap near the Irenabyss on the Franklin River.

Lyell Highway to Lake Vera via Lodden Plains - 6 to 7 hours, easy/medium walking.

After crossing the Franklin River, the track climbs from the river valley, until attaining the slopes of Mt. Mullens via intermittent patches of forest, button grass, tea tree and bauera. After passing through rainforest, about 4 km from the start of the track, a wonderful view of the Cap surrounded by its companion ridges can be viewed in fine weather. From here the track descends slightly towards the thicker vegetation surrounding Loddon River, which is reached after travelling a little over 3 km. A bridge crosses the river here. The Lodden Plains, nicknamed the Sodden Loddon, is next, well know for its extreme muddiness, it is not unusual to be immersed to your waist in mud. After 3 km the track crosses Philips Creek, where there are a few campsites for those who wish for a more leisurely journey. At about the 10 km mark the track follows Philips Lead, Philips Creek is crossed again after travelling over 13 km from the highway. The track climbs from here in a north-westerly direction, passing through tea tree and bauera scrub into the deep shade of rainforest along the southern-most slopes of Pickaxe Ridge. Before the descent is again made to the wet, sedgeland button grass around Rummey Creek. After crossing the plain another descent is made to Lake Vera where the Lake Vera Hut provides good a accommodation. Limited campsites may be found just across Vera Creek. There is a coal fire at Vera Hut.

Lake Vera to Lake Tahune - 4 hours, medium walking.

The ascent from Lake Vera, through Barron Pass and between the erect, white monoliths of White Needles, is a steep, rigged climb of some 360m in just over 3km. This climb ascends through dense rainforest, festooned with lichen and the red bells of climbing heath, with high cliffs sheltering the track in places. The view at 950m from the top of the pass is magnificent, a panorama of rock spires, glittering lakes and green forests gathering around the ridges, with the pristine white precipice of the Cap and its towering 450m face all clearly see in fair weather. A short descent, and the track threads its way below Nicoles Needle to the semi-circle of ridges, traverses, small hills and reaches the green swamp area, filled with pineapple grass and Milligania species, know as Arichoke Valley. By this time the walker has journeyed some 23km from the highway. The track winds around the hills below Frenchmans Cap until suddenly, Lake Tahune is reached about the 25km mark. There is a hut and limited campsites here. The hut has no heater.

Lake Tahune to Summit - 1 1/2 hours, hard climbing.

The track to the summit of Frenchmans Cap, some 450m higher up is well cairned. It leads to the top of the North Col, and around the ledges to the trig marking the summit, where the journey of 27km is rewarded by glorious views in fine weather

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