Thursday, June 15, 2017

Western & Eastern Arthur Traverse - Part 1

A 12-day traverse of the Western and Eastern Arthur Ranges in Southwest Tasmania by Kylie and Clinton Garratt.  Part 1 gets us onto the range and bags our first peaks for the trip.

Day 0 - Farmhouse Creek

We dropped our car at Farmhouse Creek hoping it would be there and willing to fire up on command in 12 days time.  In the boot we stashed a jump start kit gifted to me by former work-mates after they got sick of jump starting my car - thanks fellas.

Day 1 - Scotts Peak to Alpha Moraine

Monday 24th June 2017

A reasonably slick departure from home had us departing Huon Campsite near Scotts Peak Dam at 10:30.  The previous entry in the log book was a couple doing Lake Oberon via Alpha and Kappa Moraines starting today and expecting to finish today!  Mega serious, hard-core trail runners we assumed.

Despite Kylie's amazing efforts with the food dehydrator our 12 days of food weighed heavily.  It was not exactly a speed run.  At Junction Creek we were stoked to see our bridge from last July was still in place.

Last winter's bridge at Junction Creek

Without flooded creeks to contend with (compared with our winter walk) we made reasonable time to the base of Alpha Moraine but it was mid afternoon.  We decided darkness would most likely beat us to the top of the range so we set up camp.

Alpha Moraine
With the relatively balmy overnight low of 10° it was a warm night by southwest Tasmania standards.

Day 2 - Alpha Moraine to Square Lake

Without even reaching the skyline I thought our trip could be over. Compared with the challenges waiting up on the range, the open moraine should have been an uneventful climb. We were only halfway up when potential disaster struck.

As with many trails in southwest Tasmania parts of the track up Alpha Moraine are badly trenched. I did what should have been a simple hop from one side to the other when I felt like someone whacked my calf muscle with a hockey stick - only this time* I was not playing hockey. (*I tore a calf a few years ago playing hockey and this felt the same.)

After much rubbing, stretching and gentle testing, I hobbled on and found I could climb at a respectable pace as long as I didn't spring off with my left foot. Ouch!

Soon after arriving on the range crest we bagged our first peak, Mount Hesperus. At 1,098 metres it falls 2 metres short of Abel status. Nonetheless it felt good to have a summit under our belt.

Mount Hesperus
After Hesperus, easy trails led past Lake Fortuna, over Capella Crags and down to Lake Cygnus. This section contrasted starkly to my snowy thrash in the same place last year.

Lake Fortuna and Capella Crags

Lake Cygnus and Mount Hayes (twin peaks on far left)
From Lake Cygnus, Mt Hayes was our next objective and the ascent was plain sailing. Our first Abel of the trip. Hooray! Descent, however, proved a little tricky. With cloud swirling around we came to a section which looked unfamiliar despite being very clearly marked with large cairns. After a little wandering we headed back up and found the route we had ascended.

Mount Hayes
When we got back to the track we looked at Chapman's notes. Sure enough he says, "... scramble to the top using the cave and ledge system... or via the easier gully around the corner to the left." Lesson for the rest of the trip: Carefully read the track notes for a section before setting out!

With calf-muscle-delays on Alpha Moraine and a minor debacle on Mt Hayes time was marching on as we sidled Procyon Peak.  Hence we pulled up stumps* at Square Lake.  (*Note I am using the cricketing metaphore for ending a day's play.  No vegetation was extracted in setting up camp.)

Mount Orion drops steeply into Square Lake

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