Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wild Mountains of Tasmania - Brief REPORT

Wild Mountains of Tasmania REPORT

Path + comments
REM: the details, full food list, full equipment list… + more story on my website and hopefully in a book one day (see project on website, the diary I wrote during the trip is about 40 A4 pages)

Day1 : Tuesday 21/12/2006 – out of ferry, last shopping in devonport, in pharmacy : horrified by weight of all my stuff: 49kg! hitch hike to cradle Mt. Forget a plastic bag in last pickup car that brought me. The bag contained my goretex-like strong rainjacket. I buy K-way rainjacket at visitor center. Ask permission to sleep in emergency hut at foot of Cradle Mt. start 18h – kichen hut 21h30.
On overland
D2 up at 4h50, summit cradle at 6h15, summit barn bluff at 12h15, go 2 huts further
D3 summit pelion west at 16h
D4 summit Ossa at 16h, arrive hut 20h (kia ora)
Off track
D5 Xmas day : snow, follow kia ora creek south bank, rain, mud, snow. Very cold. Impossible to get proper GPS points, sometimes can see Mt Massif, very slow progression, end of day I start slow clim towards big gun pass. Sleeping bag is wet, clothes too (no spares), I finally decide to sleep naked to try to dry sleeping bag with body, takes forever.
D6 sick, leave at 11 when warmer, don’t reach the pass yet
D7 reach pass, excellent views of acropolis, sleep probably not too far from Mt Eros (cannot see as fog)
D8 bush bashing till a lake, later reach lake elysia, too tired, too late, fall through knees, I cannot climb towards minotaur, I decide to go down labyrinth to pine valley hut. Take very long time as I can only go down backwards (no power in knees)
D9 reach narcissus hut by 12h15, summit Gould by 18h, back at hut 21h
Cuvier route (not a maintained track anymore)
D10 route not easy to follow. Summit Olympus 20h00
D11 slow and tired, reach lake st clair at 13h15, rest, make a few calls, leave at 18h30 to Mt Rufus. Stop underway by 21h30

D12 Happy new year! Summit Mr Rufus 12h30. go down to gingerbread hut and gingerbread track to A10 18h30. Meet first people of the year, talk to them, hard to refuse wine !
D13 track to King William 1, summited at 14h, off track across the range, when 19h at last hill before going down to divide creek (4285-53205)…notice cannot find my jumper (containing compass, headlight,whistle). Put backpack down, take GPS point, run back to KW summit. No jumper, in half darkness try to backtrack on same path I used during the day. Damn lucky to find a black jumper in the darkness with no light ! run back to backpack… GPS is wrong, cannot find it. Pass all night fighting against the cold climbing up and down the hill, scanning the mountain (yeah no kidding) having a 15min break every hour to “sleep” until cooled down. Find backpack by 6 am, sleep to 9h.
D14 go down, then uphill to second part of the range, the chosen path is very dangerous, often scrambling vertically holding onto grass and roots. Loose beanie and watch in the scrub. Sleep at lake Anne, wonderful place.
D15 rather easy day, summit King William 2 by 12h15
D16 rest of range is rather ok, but can be risky in some places. Summit King William 3 by 10h. at the end of the range, I see entire valley, I see a line in the distance, I use monocular : it’s the disused airfield. I go down SE, very dangerous as slope is 80degrees at times, I just throw my pack 20m several times down and literally slide myself holding on to the grass or jumping from the cliffs in the neighboring trees. It’s jungle now and wet, the entire plain is filled with leeches everywhere. Heavy rain all night, impossible to count all leeches on the net of the tent.
D17 airfield at 14h. But the track is gone. I walk SSE and by 17h I find what’s left of the track, going downhill into a dense forest. Every 50-100m or so there’s pink tape, but the track is overgrown, very hard to follow…on instinct. By 19h I get lost, walk till 21h in the dark with my leech friends.
D18 aim of the day, cross the river Gell river. I reach it by 19h30. With 3 days of rain, the current is strong, width around 10-12m. I remove clothes, put half on my stuff in 59liter drybag and swim accros. Swim back and again with rest of stuff. I’m cold but start to walk asap to get warm.

D19 (08/01/2007) – leave by 13h, walk to start of Denison range, reach 52940
D20 wonderful day, reach lake Rhona, meet hikers including a Belgian Sheila.
D21 follow rasselas track to Gordon river. The track has been changed and crosses river a few km after the gordonvale farm. I do not cross the river and follow it south on the west bank. I reach the river by 23h, my headlight is useless in the scrub, so I walk both hands in front of me lead by the sound of the water. Am I an animal now?
D22 I cross the Gordon, knee deep. Very easy. It’s hard to find my way with no GPS reception. But I suddenly reach the adamsfield track at 19h, later cross the fallen bridge on the Florentine river, meet people on the other side. One leads me on a well marked track to the B61. He’s there to protest against the logging. I pitch my tent at 21h on the side of the road.
D23 I hitch to Maydena, make a few calls and hitch back to the sameplace. Walk on the road (easy but boring) the on the C607 to the Mt Anne track. I reach the hut at 21h30. 2 people in the hut do not believe some set walking at 19h in the rain.
D24 too tired, and last hut before the end, I write my diary till 16h, notice I’m halfway with the food then start to walk to Mt Anne. Summit at 19h. Back on main track I continue till I’m sure I’m on the track (close to a cairn)
D25 muddy, rain, mud pools, finish Mt Anne circuit, and reach Edgar dam at 21h30.
D26 walk to scotts dam peak, use mackays track and alpha moraine. Reach and summit Mt Hesperus by 22h, sllep on the top.
D27 summit Mt Orion at 19h, camp at lake Oberon

D28 (17/01/2007) Summit Pegasus 9h, Capricorn 12h, Taurus 20h15 walk to Lake Haven 22h. I notice I skinny, I decide from now on to eat more.
D29 summit Scorpio 11h, Phoenix 16h, reach lake promontory 13h30. Crags of Andromeda in darkness is very hard to lake Rosanne 23h30. My feet hurt very much, painful as burnt.
D30 diary, leave at 14h30. Reach 52145 by 21
D31 leave at 10h, rain all day, I camp a few 100 meters of Federation peak (FP)
D32 bad weather, stay in tent, no photos, got a swollen calf (start of infected leg – Trench foot disease)
D33 bad weather in morning, clear up at 15h, let’s go. Leave tent and stuff, just go with camera and musli bars. Summit FP at 16h. going down meet 3 guys going up. Go back to tent, reach their camp by 20h. walk a bit further to tiny camp spot on the track they told me. Underway fall from 4 m high on my back, 2 backpacks is a good shock absorber, I just felt the gas canister in my spine.

D34 (23/01/2007) – going down, quiet dangerous when wet, so slow. Walk on track until a dense forest (around 4640). 21h30.
D35 going on the farmhouse creek track is hard, muddy… I miss the junction and end up at the end on the gravel road, 14h30. I turn back and knowing my speed I roughly know when to slow down and pay attention to an indication of a side track to lake Sydney. I find it at 17h. I reach lake Sydney at 20h. I follow the east side of the lake to the south and camp at 21h.
D36 very hard in the scrub to reach Mt Bobs. But even if I’m as close a 200m from it, the wind is blowing hard and it’s freezing. I don’t go for it. I go South. I can only cover 2-3 km that day. Hell has started. Climbing bobs’s knob 1 is extremely hard and dangerous, it’s a chaos of massive rocks with dense strong scrub. Usually I try to find my camping spot by 7pm so I’ll find it before 8pm. Now I know that a good camp spot is important. I start searching by 6 pm. I find something exposed in the scrub, 2 square meters, where I dig around to be able to put my tent. I sleep on roots, in the rain, with the strongest wind I ever had. I survive the cold by burning gas in my tent during 30 min per hour for the most of the night. The wind is just shaving the heat off the tent. I manage to burn holes in my tent net, in my sleeping bag and my polyprop shirt. Cold, hungry, thirsty.
D37 I finally get out of my tent in the early afternoon hoping for blue sky soon. I go down SE and hope to find a place with no trees to get a GPS point. (I head, I guess towards (bobs map) 4.69,5N-52.01,0) Progression is slow and hard in the pandanus trees. By 19h I start looking for a flat place. After an hour of looking while still trying to go SE, I camp between pandanus trees. The tent is not tight, heavy rain all night.
D38 When I open the tent I discover it wasn’t rain, it hailed all night. About 2 cm of iceballs as big as beans around me. Good sign as I lacked water. My calf is not improving, it gets bigger. By 15h I reach low dense vegetation. I walk in it till 19h.

D39 (28-01-2007) Weather is shit, depression day, I only do diary, eat all what’s left of muesli bars. I don’t get out of the tent for 36 hours.
D40 weather a bit better, I have to move as I have no water anymore. During the day I cross twice a wide stream at 1 hour interval. Later that night I find out I certainly crossed the bend of the Roberts river twice. I fell in it during the second crossing, swept away by the current as it was deep. Position heading always SE:
4.70,0-52.00,0 / 4.70,7-51.99,2 /4.70,8-51.98,8 / then from this point going SSE.
I find a good place to sleep, putting leaves under the tent to insulate from the ground. Pain in knees +basin, dunno why. I check my body, I see it’s all skinny, the fat is gone, my muscles too.
D41 I depress all day, thinking of friends, a few tear drops, why am I here… I wake up during the night thinking I’m bushbashing and actually doing it in my sleeping bag. I broke, I was delirious. Cold sweat and nightmares.
D42 I think it’s day 40 (I wrote a bad 38 into a 36 after day 37 in my diary, which means since day 38 I think I’m day 36). I think I should have been at the end by now, but I’m far from it. No idea where I am. I get out and decide to head South (let’s say along 4.71,0) and not to climb La Perouse. I’ll go for Precipituous Bluff instead.
During the day I decide to go SW towards the Salibury river. Later, I decided to escape by that river (4.71,0-51.97,0) I go down into extremely steep slope. I reach the river (tiny stream) by 20h. I walk on the rocks in the river bed until 21h where I camp on the river bank on a very flat nice spot.
D43 (start around position (4.70,3-51.96,4). I follow the tiny stream which wasn’t the river but was kinda parallel to it as it joins a much wider stream with current. I cross it to be on the West side. I probably reached around (4.68,0) that day. Still no GPS coverage. Batteries might have not lasted the cold after all these days. I carried 3 sets of rechargeable AA and 20 alcaline AA. All almost dead. GPS died that day, probably humidity inside. And don’t need it’s compass anymore as I follow the river.
D44 I know these point for sure - 17h: 4.66,0-51.96,3 – 18h: 4657-51.96,2 – 20h30: 4.65,5-51.96,0
(The only time I have left is in my camera)

D45 (03/02/2007) leave at 10h join New river at 10h30. My progression is faster. Luckily there has been sun for 2 days now and no rain so the level of water should not raise.
D46 I wake up by a tiger at 7h, just kidding. Probably a Devil as the noise is loud and scary. I hear it like fighting with something. Walk is easier I reach probably 1-2 km/h. Soon in the morning I reach a big bend in the river, the vegetation becomes suddenly extremely impenetrable. I cover +-300 m in 6 hours just after the bend. The bend is max 2 km away from the mouth to the lagoon but I’ll never reach it. That day I probably cover 1,5 km to camp around 4.64,3-51.87,5 and I still don’t see the lagoon. I don’t understand. Even if I’m very slow, it’s almost impossible not to see it yet, I must be still far from it, incredible.
D47 about an hour after I started walking I still don’t see the lagoon, the vegetation is still extremely dense, I even start to ask God’s help! A few minutes later, it’s less dense, I can see through the forest, and I see some blue East. It’s the lagoon. I go East across and reach the lagoon at 11h00. (4.64,4-51.87,0) I need water, I walk in the water where it’s shallow. I suddenly notice that the bottom is hard enough to walk on it, it’s not swampy. I decide to walk in the lagoon until the end if it remains that hard. It works. During that walk in the water, it rains, it blows but I don’t care, if I can make it to the South coast track I’ll be safe. My camera dies underway due to humidity (no way to know the time now). The cold water calms down the pain in the swollen calf but the tension of the skin is still very intense. It’s swollen with I dunno what (until I was said it was an infection I thought about a small fracture or something else). I meet 2 campers at Osmiridium beach. I may be safe but I have a plane to catch from Hobart to Sydney on 09/02 in the morning. And of course I have to tell people I’m safe as I’m overdue.
D48 I reach granite beach by 12h ??? but meet 2 hikers on the top who tell me it’s already 16h15. I must hurry to go down before it’s too dark. I arrive in the dark at South cape rivulet. I accept my first food: the rest of sri-lanka rice with a bit of fish from 4 campers. I of course eat the burnt rice in the pot.
D49 (07-02-2007) As I know I’m gonna make it, I accept any food on my way to cockle creek: cookies, a sandwish, a chocolate bar. I call a friend from the ranger at cockle creek and ask him to pass the message.
I arrive in Hobart round 4 pm.

Today 16-08, more than 7 months have passed. I still haven’t recovered from the trench foot disease. The sensitivity in my toes is back for most of ‘em at about 70%. The left big one is still very numb. I really feel it’s hard to run or have a proper balance without 100% of my toes. I hope by 2008 I’m gonna be able to train again and lose the fat I gained after losing 10 kg (normal weight 70kg/1m81 – before trip after eating butter: 72kg – end : 62kg).
PS: If some sees a person walking with a grey raincoat in Tasmania (if the person is from Tassie)… It’s probably mine (looks nice, strong, sealed black zips, Velcro on the sleeves, removable cap) with brand QUECHUA (from I remember one of the 2 women who picked me up, is working at Queenstown’s hospital (I think cleaning, not nurse nor doctor).