Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mount Field Snow

Time for a break from Western Arthurs...

Pandani Grove, Lake Dobson
Looking ahead to the first week of school holidays two days stood out from the forecast.  With 12 year old Henry keen for an overnight hike it was easy to pick the best time.  As for location, options abounded.  We selected Mount Field which did not disappoint.

Lake Seal
We lunched at Lake Dobson car park watching families sledding on the modest, fresh cover of snow before setting our around the lake and through Pandani Grove.  After passing Eagle Tarn we headed towards Lake Webster via a small side-trip to Lake Seal, the furthest extent of Henry's previous exploits in this area.

Twilight Tarn and Tasmania's first Ski Lodge dating back to the 1920s
The snow cover dissipated as we slowly descended 150 metres in height but white surroundings soon returned as we quickly regained the lost altitude on the short climb to Twilight Tarn, our home for the night.  Henry opted for the tent rather than the hut and, with a forecast well below zero, I figured we had more chance of heating the small confines of our Hilleberg than the palatial interior of Tasmania's first ski 'lodge'.

Cooking dinner (shepherds pie) inside the vestibule.  The stove had a kinda sinking feeling.
With the tent pitched and darkness encroaching we settled into bed at 4:30pm knowing it would be 15 hours before full light would return.

Sunrise at Twilight Tarn
Slow dinner preparations on the old faithful Trangia filled in time until our fashionable dinner timeslot of 6pm. (Kylie has her new-fangled, matchbox-sized, super-fast gas cooker on the Overland Track this week.)  After dinner, a couple of Canasta hands killed more time until we were both ready for sleep at 7:30.

It was a typical long winter's night's sleep for me.  I woke at 11:30pm thinking it must be almost morning.  I then nodded straight back to sleep, waking next at 5:30am wondering whether to start breakky and pack up in the dark.  Next thing I knew it was 7:30am and light was well-and-truly unpon us.

As forecast, it was cold.  (Understatement of the day!)  Highlights of the morning included thawing shoes and discovering sheets of ice lining the inside of the tent!

Newdegate Pass with the namesake lake and hut in the foreground
Once we were on the track it was sheer delight making first tracks in the snow, marvelling at intricate elongated snow crystals and watching 'tadpoles' swimming under sheets of sloping ice.  Early in the trip we had entertained thoughts of heading through Newdegate Pass to The Watcher but deep drifts of snow and no evidence of recent traffic that way deterred us.  It was just as well.  Tarn Shelf was enough of a challenge with route-finding tricky in several places.

Wallaby and quoll(?) tracks

After 2 morning teas and a lunch break we passed 2 other groups as we approached Rodway Shelter.  Early in the afternoon with sun still blazing in a cloudless blue sky we passed many family groups and even a snow-border reveling on the slopes between the ski fields and Lake Dobson.  After doing most of the loop without seeing a soul it was quite a culture shock.

Tarn Shelf and the Rodway Range (Where's Henry?)


SG-3 said...

I continue to enjoy reading and viewing your travels, but was reminded yet again why I find it so difficult myself to get out. The old joke goes that I have spent many a night under canvas, but have never slept in a tent. I think I am almost more envious of your ability to actually get some shut-eye in a tent than your wonderful adventuring in this great state of ours!
Cheers, Colin.

Ken Bushwalker said...

Looks like a great trip. I could understand route finding on Tarn Shelf in snow isn't that easy, it wasn't that clear a track in fine weather.