December 21, 2009

A list of walking clubs

Joining a walking club is a good way to meet people, join planned trips, and walk in greater safety with others. Here is a list of leading walking clubs:

March 25, 2009

Adamsons Peak, The Calf & Mesa in a Day

Stuart Bowling 

Peaks: Adamsons Peak 1225m (GR 857001, 3 points)
The Calf 1152m (GR 844004, 1 point)
Mesa 1012m (GR 822002, 1 point)
Maps: 1:100k – Huon; 1:25k – Raminea
Distance: Approx. 24km.
Starting point: Adamsons track (Peak Rivulet Road – GR914021).
Date: Saturday 14th February 2009.
Time to summit & return: 10 hours (including lunch & rests).
Party members: Stuart Bowling, Jeramie Spong.
Adamsons Peak lies deep in the southern part of Tasmania, the last significant range before the Southern Ranges of the south coast. Access is via the Huon Highway from Hobart, past Geeveston to Strathblane, where either the Adamsons Road or Darcey Link Road will take you to the sign posted start of the Adamsons Track.
This part of the state is notorious for bad weather; even with a perfectly stable forecast we still suffered a half day of temperamental rolling sea cloud, not the worst of conditions, but evidence of the fickle nature of a range so close to both south and east coasts.
As always, this trip report is intended as entertainment only and is not a guide for others to follow. Although generally easy walking, apart from some scrubby sections, this is a very tough undertaking as a day walk and if inspired, should only be attempted by very fit groups in the longer days of summer, noting and sticking to a safe turn-around time. Please walk within your limits and stay safe out there.
A clear forecast and a free Saturday saw plans afoot for another long day walk; today’s adventure was to take us back to Adamsons Peak via the Adamsons Track, a walk we had both done the previous winter in beautiful, clear crisp conditions. Today however, our objective was further afield; we planned to continue on past the summit of Adamsons Peak to The Calf and further still to the rarely visited, scrub covered Mesa, some 7kms west of Adamsons Peak.
An early start from Hobart saw us kitted up and away from the starting point of the Adamsons Track at 8:35am, the weather clear and mild. The track to the Adamsons Plateau is first class, wide enough in places to walk four abreast, and complete with walker registration box. The signed / recommended time to the summit of Adamsons is 8-10 hours, which allows for the full range of group types, ages and fitness. Today we would need to complete this section in less than half this recommended time if we were to complete our more distant objectives and get back to the car before night fall; based on our previous return trip to the Adamsons summit in deep snow in less than 5 hours we hoped we were in with a chance.
Although humid, and a little exhausting at first, we made good time up to the plateau, stopping at the old hut ruins for our first break at 9:55am. The views from here are fantastic (if you ignore the extensive logging coupes) and take in the Huon region to Recherche Bay to the Southern Ranges. To here and return would be a great day walk in its own right for those wanting a shorter, more leisurely outing.
We were away again 20 minutes later, the track a little less defined from here but generally still easy to follow as it sees a fair amount of traffic. We powered up the ridges arriving thirsty and exhausted on the summit at 11:10am. The views from the summit are superb and with clear conditions we could see the whole Southern Ranges and south coast peaks, Federation Peak, the Hartz ranges and much more. We took the lazy option of a 20 minute morning tea break here, taking in the sun, the fantastic views and various savoury and sugary snacks, trying to refuel and re-motivate for the long journey ahead; The Calf and a distant Mesa now in view to the west of where we slumped on the summit.
Go time now and we would need to keep up our current pace all the way, Mesa seeming a long way off, but thankfully the western plateau beyond The Calf looked clear and would offer little resistance. Coming off Adamsons we sidled quite high initially, waiting until we hit the western ridge before descending toward the Adamsons / Calf saddle, picking up some cairns initially and a reasonable pad at the bottom, to our surprise. We kept on this pad all the way to the top of The Calf, keeping us clear of some scrubby sections low down. It would be fair to say that the traverse to / from Esperence Peak and the Hartz area is more popular than I initially thought, the time saved from finding this pad was much appreciated. The Calf is a great little peak dolerite, displaying classic, pyramidal symmetry and a small exposed summit.
We had made quick time to this point and the terrain had offered little resistance; would our luck continue? We only lingered briefly, setting off at 12:30pm, the views diminishing a little as a menacing looking sea cloud had started to roll in from the south coast, obscuring full views from this summit. We descended the western ridge of The Calf and soon found ourselves on the western plateau which offered delightfully easy walking on alpine heaths and grasses.
From the end of the western plateau we got our first full view of Mesa and the terrain ahead; Mesa itself looked a lot greener than the maps had indicated and I now worried about a slow, thick scrub bash up to the summit. We dropped over the rim of the plateau taking note of the fantastic rock quality along this sedimentary band, a great little climbing crag if not so remote. We now entered a short band of scrub, mostly scoparia, thankfully only brief and not inflicting too much pain. We soon reached the saddle between the western plateau and Mesa, stopping briefly to explore the bouldering potential of some free standing blocks; arguably some of the best quality metamorphosed sandstone I had come across; it would be a long walk to here with a bouldering pad strapped to your rucksack tho.
Our final objective now ahead of us, we donned scrub gear and entered what looked like thick valley scrub – scoparia, tea tree and bauera. Initially we found a little resistance, but thankfully we soon entered a mixture of horizontal, scoparia and myrtle forest with a carpeted floor of pineapple grass, it was turning out to be better than expected. We made great time and arrived, exhausted again, on the summit of Mesa at 1:35pm, our half way point and our main objective for the day. It was enlivening to be on such a remote summit for lunch, the Southern Ranges and Precipitous Bluff especially, seeming very close, separated only by some very remote valley wilderness. To the west, the views encompassed the large flat expanses of The Boomerang and Mt. Bobs, Bobs Knobs fanning out to the south and Federation Peak poking its fang just above. To the north, the Pictons, Mt. Weld and the Hartz range all looking familiar, even from this new perspective.
Lunch over, and a little tired of the constant heckling from a squadron of summit mosquitoes, it was time for the long homeward mission, leaving the summit and its amazing views at 2:05pm. Back down through the forest and scrub we maintained good time, minimising further infliction of wounds, arriving clear of this obstacle at the saddle at 2:35pm.
Both being keen climbers, myself more of an ex-climber these days, we couldn’t resist putting up a quick hikers problem on the obvious square block just beyond the low point in the saddle. Discovering no easy way off this little summit we had to reverse our upward moves, not so easy in clumsy hiking boots, but both got down safely; safer than my suggestion of launching ourselves the 4m or so onto the ground, as soft as the landing looked.
Away again, we plodded up hill, through the annoying scrub band once again just below the plateau cliffs and back up onto the plateau proper at 2:55pm, still maintaining good time and fairly certain of regaining the car at a reasonable hour, everything going according to plan. We decided on keeping to our inward route on the return, re-ascending The Calf to avoid any bothersome scrub on the lower slopes, re-gaining that summit at 3:25pm.
We had each carried around 3 litres of water in with us, but with that now gone, and no more readily available, early stage dehydration started to come into play; being no stranger to this drained feeling from other expeditions, co-ordination started to become a little sloppier and a general feeling of lethargy started to prevail.
From The Calf back up to the summit of Adamsons was exhausting to say the least, from the saddle another 200 metres of vertical ascent; once on the re-ascent we stayed on the boulder fields, picking up a run of cairns and therefore saving a little energy in the path of least resistance. We were glad to reach the summit once more at 4:15pm, knowing now that water was close at hand and the rest of the journey being nearly all downhill, all 1100 vertical metres of it. We didn’t linger to savour the summit again, the sea clag blocking any views now, no water to quench our parched bodies and little to no interest in any snacks; liquid was what we now needed badly. We stumbled our way back along the summit ridge, descending the main spur at pace and, throwing packs down, relished the first stream we came across just above the eastern plateau. It was the best orange Tang flavoured mountain water I had ever tasted, instantly rejuvenating both body and spirit; the simple things start to matter a lot in these situations. There we sat drinking, and now, with renewed appetite, snacking for some 15 minutes, lying on the pineapple grass now able to appreciate a little more our accomplishments thus far.
From here it was plain sailing down, tho the effects of such a big day couldn’t be denied and we were both tiring a little, even after our refuel. Back down the now familiar Adamsons Track at pace saw us back at the car at 6:30pm, just under 10 hours after leaving that morning. It was a big accomplishment and we were both happy now, not just for being able to stop moving, but for achieving such a distant objective in a day. Perhaps someday we will be be-knighted by these mega days, but for now we remain ambitious, if overly sometimes. Now just the long drive home to Hobart, a hot shower, a cold drink, a comfortable couch and a very lazy Sunday ahead. Mission complete. 

February 28, 2009

Mt Weld in a Day

Stuart Bowling
Peak: Mt. Weld
Height: 1345m
Maps: 1:100k – Huon; 1:25k – Weld
Ref: 654384
Points: 4
Starting point: South Weld Road (712374).
Date: Saturday 28th February 2009.
Time to summit & return: 10 hours (including lunch & rests).
Party members: Stuart Bowling, Jeramie Spong.

Mt. Weld is one of the more prominent and recognisable ranges in the south of the state, the summit proper capping the northern end of the impressive 8km long Weld Ridge. To the north of here lay the green valleys of the Weld River and the Jubilee Range, to the west the Gallagher Plateau & Anne ranges, to the south the Huon River valley and to the south east and east the unfortunate scars of extensive logging operations for which the name Weld is so recognisable to the public at large.
I had been intrigued with the idea of attempting Mt. Weld in a day for over a year, old Tasmanian Tramp articles like Phil Robinson and partners impressive success in a weekend from Red Tape Creek via the Gallagher Plateau and Grant Dixons success in a day via the regular route adding further impetus to my plans, these pioneers setting bench marks for future generations.
With a growing list of long, hard day walks under our boots and recent and much appreciated beta from Paul Geeves on the ‘regular’ route, it was time to make an attempt, a clear forecast the icing on our preparations.
The start of the walk lies deep within a network of forestry roads, a phone call to the Huon offices of Forestry the day before confirming unimpeded access to the area; a recommended strategy as Forestry operation and boom gates could alter accessibility on a day to day basis.
An early pick up time saw us on the road just after 6am, taking the now familiar road to Geeveston and along the Arve road. Today was to be a series of new roads however, bypassing the usual left hand turn on the Arve road which heads to Tahune; today straight ahead on the South Wood road, across the Houn River, left along the Eddy road onto the Fletcher road and finally right onto the South Weld road. The start of the walk is on a 90 degree left hand corner, where the road heads uphill, an obvious parking area and tagged totem pole next to cutting grass clumps indicating the start of the adventure ahead.
Kitted up in full scrub regalia (gloves essential), we were away into the cutting grass at 8:45am. The first stage of the day follows an old dozer track, sidling for around 3km to the Trout Lake outlet creek (695395). This was generally easy walking, the track obvious most of the time, but the cutting grass relentless, several wounds forming on both of us when the razor strands didn’t resist as much as they should. A few wrong turns here and there, quickly corrected, saw us at the creek at 10:10am; my first step into the creek sent me sideways, tipping me head and shoulder into the bubbling brook like one of those bobbing bird toys that sit dunking on the side of a glass of water. It was a refreshing wake up and I was no worse off for my mishap, Jeramie’s taunts being shaken off as quickly as the cool water itself.
From the other side of the creek we immediately headed off to the left, a run of pink tags indicating the route ahead. Up along a rotting log, through a small section of forest and up a small hill brought us to a small grove of horizontal forest, reminding me instantly of my fantastic Christmas trip up Moss Ridge to Federation Peak. Beyond this short obstacle the real deal begins, over 1000 vertical metres of ascent lies between this point and the summit.
The route from here initially climbs steeply through tea tree and dogwood forest before opening out into beautiful old growth myrtle and eucalypt forest, the route however not always obvious and could really do with re-tagging. We found our pace slowed dramatically through this section for we had to locate each tag carefully and had to back track several times to correct false leads. Despite this we made pretty good time, stopping a couple of times to converse with our old friends the Lyre birds, reaching the sub-alpine zone for our first extended rest of the day thus far (678385), taking shelter from the intensifying sun in a small strand of myrtle and pandani. Some snacks and rehydration and we were away again 10 minutes later, the route now following a rough pad through a mixture of scoparia and other hardy, spiky species, the scrub armour very much still required.
Soon this pad emerges onto a large flat area (672383) next to a small creek, the summit ridge now in sight, but still some 350 vertical metres of ascent above. A vague pad crosses this open area and then even vaguer pads sidle across to the outlet creek of the high, unnamed lake. At the creek we had a quick break, refilling water bladders and bottles for the final assault on the rocky summit ridges above. Following the southern (left hand) side of this creek we soon reached the high lake which would provide fantastic, if exposed, camping; the views south east of the eastern lakes, Lobster and Trout, quite magnificent apart from the visible back drop of clear felled hills.
The tops now in sight, we showed renewed vigour, following a line of pineapple grass terraces to the ridge above the lake (660382) and onto rock, always a preferred medium. We now decided to sidle to the north rather than continue high up on the first rock tower, perhaps sidling a little too low as the scrub, mostly scoparia, slowed progress again. Tiring of this we headed up again, the going easier once more on the rock scree just below the ridge top, and reaching the saddle (656383) below the summit proper, excited to get our first views out west to a lot of familiar and spectacular areas. From here a quick scramble led us to our target, summiting at 1:40pm, very happy with our time, if a little weary.
Lunch was spent not just refuelling on tasty ham salad baguettes but also on the visual smorgas board laid out in all directions. To the north the Snowy and Jubilee ranges, around west to the Anne range and Gallagher plateau, south to the Western and Eastern Arthur ranges and Picton ranges; the south east and eastern views not so appealing as described earlier. It would have been nice to spend longer taking this beautiful wilderness panorama in more, Jeramie probably happy to extend his summit nap, but we were only now half way into our day, so it was with lack lustre enthusiasm that we set off for home at 2:05pm.
The hard part of the day done, or so I thought, it was now just the long descent to the outlet creek, aka Dunking Stuart creek. We avoided the lower scrubby sidle from the high saddle, this time staying higher on rock just below the rock tower, scrambling down the ridge above the lake with no name. Jeramie insisted on following this ridge further east beyond our ascent route, reasoning we would simply drop down off it to directly gain the large flat area below; I always sceptical and preferring to stick to the inward route followed on blindly. Retribution for Jeramie came quickly in the form of a painful scrub bash down the hill through stunted eucalypt, myrtle, pandani and a little bauera, I unfortunately also suffering for this lesson.
We reached the flat area next to the little creek at 3:00pm, dropping onto the soft heath carpet in now increasing exhaustion, more due to the extra energy given to the downhill bash at this point in time. I immediately heard a loud huffing noise and thought I had disturbed a wombat; what I had disturbed was a 4-5’ Tiger snake which now slithered off only a couple of feet away from where I now slumped, most displeased with having to relocate his afternoon sunbaking session, but thankfully not displeased enough to make a physical confrontation out of the matter.
A quick cup of Gatorade and a few jelly beans and we were away again 5 minutes later, thankfully locating the exit from this area thanks to the little pad across the moor. Back through the scrubby highlands, the pain on bare arms was starting to intensify; a combination of cutting grass and scoparia wounds, exposed to the suns burning rays; laziness and not wanting to further over heat stopping us from donning jackets. This section passed without too much incident, a few false turns that can only be expected on vague scrubby pads and soon we were back under the cool shady embrace of the rain forest. It was here that things again got a little frustrating again and progress slowed to a halt on several occasions. Wary of losing the route at this late hour we were continually forced to stop at tags and carefully locate the next one, often needing to retreat to preceding ones to correct ourselves, a little frustration starting to show, particularly on my part; equanimity not my strongest trait on this afternoon.
Eventually we got through the vague sections and were soon back on the lower slopes, now much easier to follow; back through the horizontal grove, along the rotting log and we were at the bottom at last, the creek providing a convenient and much needed rest stop. We slumped here for 10 minutes, trying to compose ourselves for the long haul back through the cutting grass, difficult at this later hour in a thus far long and exhausting day.
Away at 5:15pm we once again entered the fray, the initial section a little clearer through more open regrowth, but soon we were pushing again through the familiar razor strands; scoparia vs. cutting grass would be a choice of the better of two evils, the latter still probably my preference as crazy as that seemed at this point.
Half an hour into our retreat from the creek it was Jeramie's turn for a reptilian encounter, nearly treading on another 4’+ Tiger snake concealed in the undergrowth, as is usually the case, providing a fright for both man and beast.
Nearing the end of the day’s adventure now we stepped up the pace further, a little tired of the horrible regrowth and generally a little fatigued. It was with shouts of relief and joy that at 6:40pm we finally pushed through the last clumps of cutting grass that obscured the car, the road and the end of a very long, hard day.
It had been very much everything I had expected and more; a full wilderness experience with varied forests, creeks, lakes, reptiles and a beautiful mountain in the heart of southern Tasmania. Tasmania’s unique landscapes continue to inspire and motivate me and I feel truly privileged for these experiences. 
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