Mt Kosciusko NP, Australia, Hammock camper prevails against evil ground campers....
Just got back from a 4 night, 81km trip in Mt Kosciusko National Park. Walked a circuit in the northern end of the park from Round Mountain carpark to Tooma Dam via, Derschkos Hut, Mt Jagungal (camped on Strawberry Hill), Grey Mare Hut and Pretty Plain Hut for the last night. Mostly walked trail's and NP access roads but we also followed some old track notes in section's were the track was non existent and cross country.
The ground campers all stayed in the huts when we were at them. I stayed the course and set up the hammock each night outside (okay I did manage to hang one night in a large hut) and slept like a log. Every morning they would have to wake me up well after dawn as I'd still be dreaming. I'm still full of beans now and I think that the solid nights sleep every night was a huge contributor. Also my pack was nearly 10kgs lighter than the other 3 on the trip and at the start of the trip weighed in at 14kg's with food for 5 days and 2 litres of water. In that weight I also lugged a 3/4 prolite mat and a equinox bivi bag incase the weather turned completely feral and I needed to use a hut for shelter. Didn't need either so that was a wasted 600 grams carried.....
The trip was nearly called off the night before as the weather forecast for most of Eastern Australia was awful, let alone doing a Mt Kosi area run where the bad weather look to be focused. Somehow we walked around in this orb of sunlight the whole trip and only had some showers at night. It was bizarre as we could see the rain and storm clouds all around us the whole trip and every other walking group we passed had been rained on their whole trip........
Because of the orb of sunlight we were able to climb Mt Jagungal (2060 meters) one day and walk up to Valentine falls from Grey Mare Hut the following day. The guys had attempted Mt Jagungal on 3 previous trips and had been defeated by bad weather and to get that and the falls into a single trip was one to cross off the bucket list for sure.
I hung the WBBB in some really weird spot's, over logs, on a steep slope, in a gully and between the walls in a log hut. The one night we all camped outside (other in tents)the guys all complained about sore this and that from holes under them and grass clump's, ants, no sleep etc.... I loved it and complained about the 10'' log under my back all night to blank looks and growls about being a smart arse.
This was the first trip for my 3 season Crowsnest and burrow and they worked flawlessly. Temps were not that cold with the rain about and the coldest it got was only 6 C (Measured on the hammock ridgeline above my head), it's not uncommon for below freezing temps in the area even in summer.
The first night I went to bed with full thermal's on as it was chilly outside and the wind made it feel worse, That was quickly stripped of as I got hot quickly. After that is was just a tee shirt, boxers and socks. Most nights I didn't even need the pad under my feet.
While on the trip a few times each day I'd write notes in my phone, below is what happened and a brief report from each day (if you have the patients to read it !!);
My wife commented tonight as one of the guy's on the trip "Greg" is actually a college of hers and she had been talking to him today about the trip.
When she asked him about the hammock all he would say is it was very light and nice and comfy but he still thinks it will fail eventually. Some people just don't learn.......
Forecast is still ****, next 4 days for rain and thunder storms, today’s forecast for 9-14 C temps and 60% chance of 10-20mm of rain, also the wind gusts have been around 65 km/h overnight, yay !!
The drive to Dave’s from home was 5 hours of heavy, constant pouring rain....not looking that flash for the clear blue sky's forecast 4 days ago (thanks weather man).
On the up side, we had the usual pack weigh off last night....tried to not get involved but ended up roped in. Dave, Greg and Max's packs are all 60-80 litre packs all around the 20-22kg mark complete with food and water. Mines a 30 litre pack + about a 8 litre dry compression bag strapped to the bottom with my TQ & UQ. My total pack weight was 14 kg’s and I'm carrying a 8x30 pair of Swarovski bino's, the biggest camera and two shelter systems....told them I didn't want to get involved. They all think my hammock will fail, I’ll be cold etc from not carrying 20+ kg’s, the next few days we will see but I'm confident all will be fine.
I'm guessing the track conditions will be awful from the continuous last week of heavy rain. My heavy, stiff, waterproof Meindl boots are looking better all the time right now.
Next update tonight.....hopefully my phone isn't drenched......
-7:05pm; GPS first day, start of walk reading of 748.1km.
Weather has baffled us all....we drove through rain all the way to the track head at Round mountain car park, once we arrived it was into this mystical blue sky pocket. A large group was finishing their walk at the car park and they commented they had walked for the last 5 days and it has rained non-stop since they started.... Strangely this blue pocket hovered over us all afternoon. Only about 1km from Derschkos hut we heard thunder behind us gaining rapidly. Started to spit about 30 meters from the hut and by the time we dropped our packs in the hut it was pissing down. Only lasted 20 minutes and has been sort of clear since with no more rain. Walked 15.1 km's today in mostly rolling mountain plains and valleys. Spotted a very nice black/brown wild brumby which we viewed through the bino's while he challenged us for a few minutes before bolting. The guys are in the hut tonight and I have the hammock up in a sheltered spot up on the ridge. Will see how the night goes. It's about 14 C now with little wind and is just starting to spit again a little bit.
Day 2: GPS reading at the start of the day is 763.4km's.
Started raining last night around 9:00pm when we went to bed, on and off constant until around 3:00am I'm guessing. I found out one thing about the hammock with the tarp strung down low and tight....any rain is bloody noisy when it's 12'' from your face, ear plugs would have been nice but I left them in the hut in my pack. Temps dropped down to a minimum of 8.1 C, went to bed with a full thermal base layer, ended up too hot and stripped off and slept warm the rest of the night (when the rain didn't keep me awake). The prusik’s on my tarp main line slipped in the wet weather and I had to brave the rain and undo the tarp end soft shackle prusik's and run another wrap around the line which held fine the rest of the night. Was woken up by a bloody crow crapping on my tarp and calling out to its mates around 5:30am, I hate crow’s!!!
I packed it all up and woke up the boys in the hut around 6:30am. Greg was not a happy camper, apparently someone in the other room snored all night. Greg thinks it was Dave but Dave say's he didn't hear any snoring all night at all...... Just about to head off now to Strawberry hill to find a camp site and hopefully climb Mt Jagungal. Strangely the sky is clear blue over us again this morning, something isn't right as it's meant to be raining and appears to be all around us......fingers crossed our luck hold's for the rest of the day. Dave say's it's alien's' and they are going to abduct someone soon and they are controlling the weather for better space ship flight.....
Sitting on Mt Jagungal right now, 2060 meters up. Weather is great and the view is breath taking, clear for as far as you can see. Camped on a saddle about 3.5km's away and it took right on 2 hours to climb up here. We even passed some melting snow about 300 meters under the peak. Dave has a sore knee and opted out on the climb as it was all cross country. See ya, off to enjoy the view, better things to do up here than tap away on the phone.....
Just settled in after getting back from the mountain. The walk up and back was right on 8km's cross country for the return trip. Walked 7.4km's from the hut last to our current campsite, daily total of 15.4km's and only about 4.5km's of that on a trail.
When we arrived back at camp Dave had moved his tent as the original spot was on an ants nest!! LOL. Just photographed Greg naked having a bath......not the best picture of the trip that's for sure?
Now just to cook dinner and relax until bedtime in a few hours once it's dark.
Day 3; GPS reading at the start of the day is 778.8km’s.
I have just been woken up by the guy’s, Slept like a log in the hammock as I wore ear plugs all night. The others have all had breakfast and packed up their tents but I was deep asleep and didn’t hear a thing.....LOL. Apparently they all didn’t sleep very well (except Max) as the ground wasn’t very flat where they camped. I have commented that there was a bloody 10” log under my hammock but I just got growls and an evil stare from Greg...... I have realised this morning that my legs are really badly sunburned from the walk up the Mountain yesterday, It’s very sore and I feel very stupid indeed.....
We are now at Grey Mare Hut after retracing our path back to the trail down Strawberry hill and along the valley. Also we have stumbled across a large school year 11 group from Sydney doing a hike through to Thredbo over the next few days, They are having lunch at the hut now. Myself and Max are planning to walk to Valentine falls now which should be around a 9 km return trip and we think cross country.
Max and I walked up to Valentine falls and arrived back around 5pm. The walk was easier than expected as we found a small foot pad leading up to the first large creek crossing. After wading over the first creek we had to cross the Geehi river which was flowing quite quickly. Took us a while to find a sort of safe spot to cross and didn’t have too much trouble.
Valentine falls were amazing and well worth the effort. We took some great pictures and the volume of water coming down these large falls made them most impressive indeed. Also on climbing the ridge to the falls the school group had caught up to us and looked to be pissing about at the first large creek crossing. After taking a heap of pictures etc. we returned across the exact same spot on the river and noticed it had risen around 3’’ and the current was definitely stronger as we had trouble retaining a footing at each step. It must have been raining upstream as we could see a lot of dark cloud’s up that way and heard some thunder.
Once we were through the school group finally caught up to us. They had a few concerns about the crossing and passed a comment about some 40kg girls with large packs. Max straight out advised them not to cross but they were keen to push on.....We didn’t hang around to watch it all go wrong as they didn’t even have any rope with them…...
About 20 minutes later is started raining heavily, so we had a wet walk back to the hut. Greg and Dave could see the weather closing in on the valley we walked up and were joking about us not getting back......Greg was eagerly awaiting our return in the hut doorway, Camera in hand !!.
Final GPS reading is 795.6km’s after walking a total of 16.8km’s including the 9.1km return run to the falls.
Just walked up the hill behind Grey mare hut, nice little 3.6km grunt all uphill raising 165 meters in elevation from the hut. Dave is just about ready to stab Greg with his walking pole as Greg told Dave this morning that we were going up the hill the easy way (which I think we did). The weather is clearing and the view is crystal clear right through to Mt Kosciusko and all around.
We are at Pretty Plain Hut now after walking 13.6km's today. Some of the walk has been on forest roads but most of today has been on nearly non-existent trails. We had a very hard run down ''Heart Break Hill'' which the track was just a mess and very, very overgrown with small gum tree's and thick undergrowth. Also the track was quite steep. I managed to loose my walking pole along one section and after going up and down the path a few times, managed to find it. The remaining walk down pretty valley was much better but seamed long as we were all keen to get there and had sore feet from the rough terrain.
A large Duke of Edinburgh group doing there gold walk has just arrived now and are pitching tents outside as we sort of ''spread out'' in the hut which I think turned them off sleeping in there with us. This is also the first night I could hang the hammock inside the hut between the beams and cross braces on an internal wall.
Should sleep well tonight as I'm sure we earned it after the ****** sort of track Greg planned today....
We have all just finished up for the day after dinner. I have to report this…..Greg has just made his famous stewed fruit and custard…Awesome. We used two packet’s of powdered custard and about a thousand sugars……hard to beat.
Day 5; GPS reading at the start of the day is 809.2kms.
10.1km's from Pretty Plain Hut, Just crossed the Tooma river and had a quick bite for lunch while drying out after the crossing. The river is about 15 meters wide and about bottom of bum crack deep and flowing quickly. We all stripped down to undies and tops and formed a 4 man chain line for the crossing to be safe. No issues but a few close calls when Greg kept standing on mine and Max's feet. Ha ! while writing now a big wind gust came through and nearly blew my thermarest seat in the river, The boys reckon I screamed like a girl as I watched it fly towards the current but it just landed short on the bank,,,,,few !.
We had a few others in the hut with us last night and apparently someone in the other room snored really badly and rattled the floor...I wouldn't know as I was tucked in the hammock with ear plugs in all night.
Dave has rolled his ankle a few km's back and isn't doing too well but is still mobile. Greg has just drugged him up and hopefully he will make it out. We are just about to head off for the remaining 10km's to the car now. The large hill straight in front of us isn't making us hurry off though.......
End of trip, just arrived at the car, no major events after the river crossing with rolling hills and a few ridges. Rained on us for about 20 minutes and other than that has been good weather. Max managed to drop his camera when putting on his rain jack but after walking back a few hundred meters found it again. Final GPS reading is 829.1km's for a trip total of 81km's which is a great effort for a 4 night trip in terrain like this.
End of report!!!