December 8, 2007

Mt. Bobs in a day

Stuart Bowling 

Peak: Mt. Bobs
Height: 1111
Maps: 1:100k – Huon; 1:25k – Burgess, Bobs
Ref: 671062
Distance: 22km (horizontally).
Points: 5
Starting point:Farmhouse Creek track car park, Southwest National Park.
When: Saturday 8th Dec 2007.
Time to summit & return: 11.5 hours (including lunch & rests).
Party members: Stuart Bowling, Jeramie Spong.

Mt Bobbs

Warning: Mt. Bobs as a day walk is a fairly serious undertaking, requiring the long days of summer, & is only recommended to fit parties with some off track experience. The track only goes to Lake Sydney, beyond there times could vary dramatically depending on how quickly a party can move through scrubby terrain & the luck of the route through the green stuff. Please be cautious and walk within your limits.
Our mission for this weekend was probably our most ambitious for the year, but having, in our first serious year of walking & in true peak bagging style claimed over 52 peaks each (a new years resolution of 52 peaks in 52 weeks coming true a couple of weeks earlier on Mt. Hugel), felt up to the challenge. We understood that most parties who summited usually took 3 days, some 2 days with 1 very long day, so had decided on a turn around time of 2pm, if required, leaving plenty of time to get back before dark (as always, head torches were on board, just in case).
Usually punctual to the minute, Jeramie arrived at my place in New Town at about 5:45am, 15 minutes late and evidence of a much earlier start than our usual 7am. A quick trip down, via Banjos in Huonville for the usual coffee & lunch supplies, and we arrived at the Farmhouse Creek car park just before 8am, and after a quick chat with a couple of friends, who were also heading into Lake Sydney, we were away at 8:15am, across the bridge & turning right onto the Farmhouse Creek track in fine summer weather.
Making pretty good time we zipped up the gently inclined track, which snakes along the banks of the creek, arriving at the track junction to Lake Sydney at about 9:20am. A totem pole of various coloured ribbons and shredded over pants stands at the track junction like some tribal warning. The sight of cutting grass overgrowing the track and some immediate cutting of flesh saw the real game afoot, the pleasant creek track now behind us.
Although overgrown the track is generally easy to follow, gently climbing towards the northern ends of Mc Partlans bluff through forest, the rooted, log riddled track delivering its usual gymnastic saves & spills. Towards the top of this first section we ran into a couple of guys who had camped the previous night along Farmhouse Creek and were on their way to Lake Sydney, or so we thought.
We took the chance to have a quick break at 10:25am to have a chat, as one of the chaps had been in to Bobs before, apparently, claiming a mere 1 hour each way from Lake Sydney to the summit; none the wiser we accepted his advice and some beta on keeping to the forest on the eastern shore of Lake Sydney rather than around the lake shore itself; much obliged we were off again 5 minutes later.
The track continued to display a field of monkey-puzzles through the forest, and we were glad not to be lugging 20kg pigs on our backs, which would have considerably slowed us down. Making good time we gradually descended towards a brief boggy section, and briefly into the forest again arriving at Lake Sydney at 11:20am, just over 3 hours from departure. The track is well tagged, if overly in sections, and easy to follow to this point.
Our first clear view of Mt. Bobs bathed in morning sun and eyes quickly darted for an easy route up the face, none seemed to exist without perhaps going up to the saddle between Bobs and The Boomerang and following gentler inclines to the plateau above – a much lengthier proposition. Instead we chose to take a straight line as close as possible to the lake to expediate our return, more or less aiming straight up the face and starting to doubt the validity of the earlier estimated times, even before entering the scrub.
A quick feast of pharmacy jelly beans and fresh mountain Gatorade mix saw us sugared up and away at 11:30am, initially sticking to the eastern shore of the lake before heading into the forest on the advice of the other party. Although generally pretty open forest and scrub, any time in this terrain, amongst knee and ankle shattering booby traps is slow and I wished we had tried to push around the lake shore a little further. Past the southern end of the lake and we continued through the scrub, setting a straight line for the base of the cliffs where we had a brief rest. Sidling south along the cliff line we zigzagged our way up through terraces of rock and scrub, in spots vertical until we reached the gully containing the creek that we had aimed for, and stopped to replenish our bottles. Crossing the creek to the north and heading straight up more or less, the terrain opens up as does the view, and we made good time up the series of slabs and terraces, topping out onto the plateau at about 1:35pm well on time and next to a small cairn, evidence of taking the line of least resistance. We explored the vast summit plateau before deciding on a lunch spot at the northern end with grand stand views of The Eastern and Western Arthurs and Mt. Hopetoun amongst a vast panorama of Tasmanian wilderness at its best.
We set down for lunch and a hot cuppa at about 1:50pm, relishing the opportunity to collapse and refuel. Very happy to be at the top, but feeling unmotivated for the long return journey – that post summit slump. With groans of pain and stiffening muscles we set off for home at 2:30pm, quickly across the plateau and returning to the creek below via our upward route. Crossing the creek again, we sidled through scrub for a hundred metres or so before starting the descent, monkeying down through the green cliffs and then, quickly diverted back to the creek where it touched back down at the base of a small waterfall. We decided to generally follow the course of this creek on our return to the lake, and apart from the usual spills made great return time to the southern end of the lake where the creek spilled out, a much better route and the recommended one in my mind.
We had had enough of the scrub and so decided to stick to the lake shore which was generally pretty easy going, arriving back at the camp sites at the Northern end of Lake Sydney at about 3:50pm to a well earned break, admiring Bobs and soaking in the rays of the afternoon sun – a really great little camp site and a future destination for a less energetic trip. No signs of either of the other two parties left us a little puzzled.
We were away again just after 4pm and 15 minutes later ran into our friends from the car park who had been a lot more leisurely on their approach, taking about 7.5 hours to where we met them and happy to hear that the lake was so close. They mentioned trying for the summit and we quickly talked them out of it at this late hour; they didn’t seem too upset with their second option of a swim. The other, and more advanced party who had given us the dodgy beta were still nowhere to be seen and had probably diverted to Pine Lake. We chatted for 15 minutes and were away again just before 4:30pm, happy to be back on a track and knowing it would just be a long plod back. We kept up good pace, despite our dwindling energy reserves and the full body ache these missions tend to produce and arrived back down at the Farmhouse Creek track junction at about 6:30pm, taking a 15-minute rest by the creek.
A quick trip down the far easier track next to the creek, across the bridge and back at the car at about 7:40pm. Happy, happy, Joy, joy. We had succeeded and at around 11.5 hours it had been our longest day for the year, tho probably not our hardest physically. The long drive home saw several food stops, the sort of food that shouldn’t go into a body that depleted, but the sort the mind craves. We were back at about 10:15pm; it had been a full day and a great little adventure. 

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