June 8, 2006

Lake Skinner and Mt Snowy South (1314 m)

Marian Harradine 
We arrived at the car park at the start of the walk at 10.05. We had driven down towards Huonville to the Ranelagh and Judbury turn off and continued on for another half-hour through very picturesque country, following the Huon River for a while also. We stopped at a road fork, wondering which way when a forestry man, pulled up behind us and told us to take the right hand fork. The last quarter of an hour was through forestry plantations and clear felling.
We started on our way at 10.25. It was quite cool, 12 degrees;. The first 12 minutes of the walk was along a brand new track that was only opened yesterday, February 1st. It was rather springy and uneven, over sphagnum moss and cutting grass and other debris. Then it joined the old track and soon after that started steadily climbing at a nice gradient.
The area we walked through was very lovely, with rainforest trees mixed with very large gum trees ( Regnans I think ). I would imagine that the track could get quite wet in winter, but it was fairly dry most of the way.
At 11.25, after an hour of walking, we got to the top of a ridge, where it was more open and a view of the edges of the Snowy South range could be seen. We went downhill a little and then gradually up and over another ridge to lovely Lake Skinner, set in a large natural dish, with cliffs on the western side and gentle wooded hills around the rest of the perimeter. There was good volume of water coming from the lake into a creek which we followed for the last few minutes of the walk to the lake. There was quite a substantial rock shelter made near the lake, which was an indication of the winds and cold weather prevalent in the area - hard to imagine on the beautiful sunny mild day we were enjoying.
Lake Skinner was surprisingly large, at least a kilometre long and over 500 meters wide at the widest point. It is a popular spot for trout fishing. We saw a couple of people fishing.
We arrived at the lake at 11.50 and spent a bit of time just enjoying the area and filled our water bottles and had a snack.
We located the continuation of the track to Mt Snowy South just across the outlet creek beside the lake and resumed our walk at 12.35. It soon became quite steep, the track being quite rough, over rocks and roots, but quite easy to follow. After half an hour of climbing we clambered over large boulders and rocks to reach the plateau of low scrub and rocks and boulders. Snowy South was now visible to the south west of us.
We continued following the track, which passed an interesting area of a very big hole with huge boulders, at 1.15. When we reached the area where it got to the stage of mainly rock hopping the track petered out, no cairns to follow. Just an odd cairn in odd places. We continued on visually keeping Snowy South as our goal. We eventually reached the summit cairn at 2.10.
The view was quite outstanding in all directions. Mt Anne not far away to the west and the Arthur Ranges and Federation Peak to the southwest. Its got to be just about the best place to get a full view of all the Arthur Range and Federation Peak. Mt Weld was just south west of us. Nevada Peak looked pretty close and I was wishing that we had allowed a bit more time to go over to that while we were so close, but it would have taken us a few hours extra probably, judging from how long it took us to get to the top of Snowy South. To the north was Mt Field East and West and the Rodway Range and Florentine Peak. We could see the Franklin Range and Lake Gordon. To the north west looking dramatic even in the distance was Frenchman's Cap.
We left the top at 2.55, going back in a direct line to where the track was. It took us 9 minutes shorter coming back down than going up. We located the track at the end of the rock hopping, 40 minutes later, and were back at the start of the steep descent down to Lake Skinner 15 minutes after that, at 3.50, arriving at Lake Skinner at 4.15.
We filled up with water and investigated if there was any Huon Pine growing along the lakeside. There was some pine there but I don't think it was Huon Pine. We spoke to another couple fishing. They told us that the area can have extremely strong winds which whip up waterspouts on the lake.
We left Lake Skinner at 4.30 and enjoyed the downhill return back to the car park through the rainforest. We reached the car park at 5.45 and the temperature gauge on the car said 24 degrees. A very enjoyable walk.
Walk times:
Car park to Lake Skinner: 1 hour and 25 minutes Return: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Car park to Snowy South: 3 hours 10 minutes Return: 2 hours and 50 minutes

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