Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

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Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby ryantmalone » Sun 17 Feb, 2013 8:24 pm

So, I just got back from a hike across Mt Sugarloaf and the Razorback at Cathedral Ranges State Park.

Initially, I had planned to start at Neds Gully, hike up to Sugarloaf Saddle via the Little River Track, Tweed Spur Track, and the Messmate Track, then across the Razorback having climbed Sugarloaf via the Canyon Track, and camping at the Farmyard, then across the Jawbones and Mt Cathedral the following day, dropping down to Neds Gully.

Having heard that there may be problems with water at the Farmyard, I carried around 6 litres on me, finding out that my cask was leaking when i got to the start of the Messmate Track.

A note on the Messmate Track - whilst this may be a nice gradual stroll heading down, when climbing up on a 34 degree day, and half your pack weight consists of water, this track is a nightmare. Seems that the track hardening has gone south around half way up, and walking uphill is a nightmare in a track that crumbles away at the side. Not fun, and was happy to get to Sugarloaf Saddle. Maybe some time for Parks Victoria to do some maintenance before the track costs some ankles?

The climb to Sugarloaf was a serious undertaking. The Canyon is the easier way to the top, however by no means does that mean that its easy. Climbing with a pack up the "Canyon" section was particularly awkward in places, where a slip would have meant a serious injury, or worse. The top was reached after a quick scramble up an incredibly steep slab, and was able to survey the track as it headed over the Razorback.

The Razorback was much more of a serious walk than I had expected, and completely wrecked my legs. Much of the track follows the crest of the Razorback, which is extremely narrow, and constantly requires scrambling. Although the Razorback is only 3 kilometers long, about 3/4 of it is a constant scramble over terrain either similar to the Canyon Track, or over large slabs of rock requiring awkward climbs or drops.

Ended up getting to the Farmyard at around 7:30pm.

Next day, went to investigate the water situation, after hearing from other hikers that water was practically dry at Jawbones Creek, and verifying this myself, I decided to head down to Cooks Mill rather than head over the Jawbones, as I simply did not have enough water for the way (Only had 200 ml or so after breakfast).

About half way down the Jawbones Track, I did manage to spot some good water though, and after filling up, decided that I couldnt be bothered climbing back up again with a full pack, and headed to Cooks Mill via the St Bernards Track, and back to the car at Neds Gully.

A note on the Razorback - This was much more a serious hike than I had expected, was very painful on the ankles and knees, and although an incredible walk, might be a while before I do it again. ;)

Anyway, here's some pics.

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Loggers resorting to extreme methods to stop hikers walking in state parks.

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Start of the Messmate track, and my improvised method of trying to stop my cask from leaking.

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Climbing Sugarloaf, just before the scramble

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The Canyon. This is just the start of the climb, it goes up much higher, and gets more airy as you get higher.

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The Razorback, Jawbones, and Mt Cathedral from just below Sugarloaf.

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An easy section along the Razorback

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The morning after.

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The North Jawbone
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Kinsayder » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 7:39 am

Thanks, Ryan. Good report and nice pictures. Do you really carry a chair with you? Please tell me it's some amazing piece of engineering that is both light and easy to carry...
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Hallu » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 9:21 am

Well the poor track maintenance is constant amongst Victoria's state parks. I realized that 2 weeks ago when I did Lerderderg (a state park) and then Brisbane Ranges the next day (a National Park). NPs have info panels, water tanks, benches, wide tracks. State parks' tracks are overgrown, flood damage is hardly taken care of, water situation is bleak... I wanted to see Bunyip State Park, but I may skip it now...

The Razorback looks really dangerous, it's weird that Chapman doesn't mention it, he just says that it requires some rock scrambling, but he says the same of the Cathedral walk, and yet here the rock scrambling was easy and minimal.
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Out_Walking » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 10:29 am

Mm... This walk. I did the same, starting at Cooks Mill, but the track wasn't there then. Slogged up the road sucking in the odd exhaust fumes on the way!

That Razorback with a pack was definitely slow going! I also had my scariest fall in walking up there. Fell down a rock landing on my side with only a couple of cms to spare from going all the way down a 5 mt drop. Absoulutely crapped myself. Fantastic walk though, but I must say I loved and loathed it in equal measure!

Nice work doing that in Summer. Pretty unforgiving in hot weather!
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Hallu » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 11:11 am

Yeah and next week end same temperatures... Maybe I'll find refuge in the wet Otways or something...
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby andrewbish » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 11:43 am

Thanks for the post, Ryan. This has reminded me that I did a similar walk pre xmas but forgot to post a report. I will get onto it shortly.

What I will say for now is that it was hot, challenging in places (the canyon is a little hairy) and is quite slow going along the Razorback.

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View from the Razorback
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Hallu » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 2:26 pm

Amongst the 3 or 4 of us we can safely say this is not a place for everybody. I wouldn't bring my friends over there. But from the Victoria Parks info sheets and Chapman's books, you'd think it's like some grassy rocky hills that are physical but fine otherwise. It's clearly not. Some scrambles are serious, some places are height-exposed and/or with slippery dirt, water is hard to find, the vegetation is painful... But by reading Chapman's advices, I would have never thought it was that bad.

This brings me to another point. Nowadays, there are some really nice guidebooks including hiking, driving, etc... You have Scott Cook's books for NZ (called NZ Frenzy) or the recent and amazing book on US NPs by Michael Joseph Oswald. Both books feature a modern look : influenced by the bloggosphere and the internet generation, it's a more direct approach : if it's a crappy painful not-worth-it area, he'll just say it. If it's rubbish on a rainy day, same thing. Is the road scenic ? Mentioned too. It's time to stop the completely bland approach so many old writers use : spill your guts, say if you spit a lung walking up this track, if you cursed the fallen trees or the spiky bushes on the way up, if the road that leads to it could smash your tires. And if you think a popular area is actually pretty disappointing, just say so. I'm a bit tired of the 20 km loops of nothing in a view-less forest, tired of the "the track is at times rough and rocky" whereas it's a *&%$#! painful mess. And go outside the box. What are amongst the best areas of Victoria to me ? Croajingolong, Hattah-Kulkyne, Murray-Sunset, Little Desert. They're hardly ever mentioned anywhere... I just hope a new generation of writers will have the courage to jump into it and write some nice straightforward stuff about Australia.
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby ryantmalone » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 3:25 pm

Kinsayder wrote:Thanks, Ryan. Good report and nice pictures. Do you really carry a chair with you? Please tell me it's some amazing piece of engineering that is both light and easy to carry...


I do!! It's my Helinox Chair One, only weighs around 800 grams, and bits nicely in the gap between my Thermarest and fuel bottle. Its the one luxury that I do bring along with me, and gets a few interesting looks from time to time. ;)

Hallu wrote:Well the poor track maintenance is constant amongst Victoria's state parks. I realized that 2 weeks ago when I did Lerderderg (a state park) and then Brisbane Ranges the next day (a National Park). NPs have info panels, water tanks, benches, wide tracks. State parks' tracks are overgrown, flood damage is hardly taken care of, water situation is bleak... I wanted to see Bunyip State Park, but I may skip it now...

The Razorback looks really dangerous, it's weird that Chapman doesn't mention it, he just says that it requires some rock scrambling, but he says the same of the Cathedral walk, and yet here the rock scrambling was easy and minimal.


Generally speaking, if people cant handle a little scrub around the track, or some overgrown patches, then the bush aint for those kinds of people. I'd hate to have to walk on perfectly flat hardened tracks 100% of the time, just saps the remoteness out of the experience in my opinion. That said, when the track crumbles away into ankle deep loose dirt when youre climbing uphill on a new track that was only recently launched, it's never fun. :)

The Razorback was pretty exciting in spots, that said, its not that bad if you're confident with some airy scrambling. To be honest, I spent a lot of my time sliding on my butt hoping that I would land on that ledge above the two meter drop. Fun times, fun times! On the way up the canyon, I did wish that I had a rope though, as the extra width of my pack made the scramble up just that bit more dangerous. Not that pack hauling would be 100% needed, just a luxury to those who don't want the risk or awkwardness.

Out_Walking wrote:Mm... This walk. I did the same, starting at Cooks Mill, but the track wasn't there then. Slogged up the road sucking in the odd exhaust fumes on the way!

That Razorback with a pack was definitely slow going! I also had my scariest fall in walking up there. Fell down a rock landing on my side with only a couple of cms to spare from going all the way down a 5 mt drop. Absoulutely crapped myself. Fantastic walk though, but I must say I loved and loathed it in equal measure!

Nice work doing that in Summer. Pretty unforgiving in hot weather!


Funny you said that, about half way up the Messmate Track, I convinced myself that next time I would go up Cerberus Road!

I remember getting to the memorial on the Razorback, looking at the GPS, and blown away at how far I had not gotten since leaving the summit. Its a very slow ridge walk. From Sugarloaf, the Farmyard looked like it was literally within earshot too.

I had a few close calls on the Razorback, mainly due to my legs being utterly buggered, resulting in some shocking balance.

Was 34 degrees at Taggerty, but was worth it for the cool breezes that were coming over the tops. Made it just that bit more bearable. Was drenched by the time I got to the Farmyard though.

andrewbish wrote:Thanks for the post, Ryan. This has reminded me that I did a similar walk pre xmas but forgot to post a report. I will get onto it shortly.

What I will say for now is that it was hot, challenging in places (the canyon is a little hairy) and is quite slow going along the Razorback.

IMG_2018-small.jpg


That'd be awesome! Speaking of how challenging the walk along the whole Sugarloaf to Farmyard stretch is, check out this nutcase. Makes it look like a piece of cake and runs the entire traverse - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfh7gQJM3_M

Hallu wrote:
This brings me to another point. Nowadays, there are some really nice guidebooks including hiking, driving, etc... You have Scott Cook's books for NZ (called NZ Frenzy) or the recent and amazing book on US NPs by Michael Joseph Oswald. Both books feature a modern look : influenced by the bloggosphere and the internet generation, it's a more direct approach : if it's a crappy painful not-worth-it area, he'll just say it. If it's rubbish on a rainy day, same thing. Is the road scenic ? Mentioned too. It's time to stop the completely bland approach so many old writers use : spill your guts, say if you spit a lung walking up this track, if you cursed the fallen trees or the spiky bushes on the way up, if the road that leads to it could smash your tires. And if you think a popular area is actually pretty disappointing, just say so. I'm a bit tired of the 20 km loops of nothing in a view-less forest, tired of the "the track is at times rough and rocky" whereas it's a *&%$#! painful mess. And go outside the box. What are amongst the best areas of Victoria to me ? Croajingolong, Hattah-Kulkyne, Murray-Sunset, Little Desert. They're hardly ever mentioned anywhere... I just hope a new generation of writers will have the courage to jump into it and write some nice straightforward stuff about Australia.


Its interesting that you mentioned this, I've always read Chapman, and Siseman's stuff for hiking, however we are talking about a day and age where books were the primary means of getting info about areas to hike.

With the invention of Google and Blogs, its really shifted the balance of power to those who write about their experiences in blogs, online articles, and so on, and although there is still a market for books, the most current and up to date info on trips will always be found in blogs. Books will always be a very reliable instruction manual of sorts, but blogs will always tell you what it is that you really want to know about a hike (and that's the bad stuff, and the very cool stuff).

As for places to go, my heart belongs in the Bogongs, and I cant be there enough. Wonangatta is an incredible place, as is Wilsons Prom, the higher reaches of the Cathedrals, the Baw Baws, and if you like rivers and gorges, Lerderderg is great.
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby Hallu » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 4:26 pm

Well blogs have a big problem : you can't browse them properly. Until all the hikers get their blogs published on one and only website, where walks can be sorted and searched, it's hard to use them to actually prepare your itinerary (unless you have one precise walk in mind already or unless there's a crazy hiker/computer genius who walked everywhere and publishes at the speed of light). Some attempts have been made at a unifying website, but they don't offer enough liberties or ergonomy to gather all the bloggers. Books offer what they can't : in a couple of seconds you have a look at the map, some photos, and you know where you wanna go. The best website I've found so far is http://www.sharemyroutes.com . The walks are quite nicely presented, but it needs more quality contributors such as PeterJF.
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby ryantmalone » Mon 18 Feb, 2013 6:04 pm

I'm just talking about using Google and searching that way, not in particular about a centralized blog directory or something.

From what I gather, its easy to just get involved in the hiking community online through forums, and you will quickly find who posts about what, and go from there. That's why I always post about my hikes on here, contributing to a collection of info that can be searched easily.

Books however, with the number of trails in there, its always going to be hard to keep them 100% up to date. I'd both love and hate to have John Chapmans job keeping his books up to date. I'd never see my other half!! ;)
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby andrewbish » Tue 16 Apr, 2013 7:51 pm

andrewbish wrote:Thanks for the post, Ryan. This has reminded me that I did a similar walk pre xmas but forgot to post a report. I will get onto it shortly.



Here's the report of my trip up there in December. http://trailsandtracks.blogspot.com.au/ ... l.html?m=1
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby ryantmalone » Thu 25 Apr, 2013 6:43 pm

Nice work! Looks like you got a little nicer weather than I did when I was there!
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby north-north-west » Mon 29 Apr, 2013 3:56 pm

Hallu wrote:Amongst the 3 or 4 of us we can safely say this is not a place for everybody. I wouldn't bring my friends over there. But from the Victoria Parks info sheets and Chapman's books, you'd think it's like some grassy rocky hills that are physical but fine otherwise. It's clearly not. Some scrambles are serious, some places are height-exposed and/or with slippery dirt, water is hard to find, the vegetation is painful... But by reading Chapman's advices, I would have never thought it was that bad.

Well, I have some major points of difference with Chapman on some of his notes, but I have to agree with him on this one - it's basically pretty easy walking, just a little bit of a scramble on Sugarloaf itself.

This brings me to another point. Nowadays, there are some really nice guidebooks including hiking, driving, etc... You have Scott Cook's books for NZ (called NZ Frenzy) or the recent and amazing book on US NPs by Michael Joseph Oswald. Both books feature a modern look : influenced by the bloggosphere and the internet generation, it's a more direct approach : if it's a crappy painful not-worth-it area, he'll just say it. If it's rubbish on a rainy day, same thing. Is the road scenic ? Mentioned too. It's time to stop the completely bland approach so many old writers use : spill your guts, say if you spit a lung walking up this track, if you cursed the fallen trees or the spiky bushes on the way up, if the road that leads to it could smash your tires. And if you think a popular area is actually pretty disappointing, just say so. I'm a bit tired of the 20 km loops of nothing in a view-less forest...

+1
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Re: Sugarloaf and the Razorback Hike

Postby ryantmalone » Wed 08 May, 2013 5:38 pm

north-north-west wrote:
Hallu wrote:Amongst the 3 or 4 of us we can safely say this is not a place for everybody. I wouldn't bring my friends over there. But from the Victoria Parks info sheets and Chapman's books, you'd think it's like some grassy rocky hills that are physical but fine otherwise. It's clearly not. Some scrambles are serious, some places are height-exposed and/or with slippery dirt, water is hard to find, the vegetation is painful... But by reading Chapman's advices, I would have never thought it was that bad.

Well, I have some major points of difference with Chapman on some of his notes, but I have to agree with him on this one - it's basically pretty easy walking, just a little bit of a scramble on Sugarloaf itself.

I'll agree with this. The scramble up Sugarloaf was fun, if anything, at times a little awkward. The going was slow from there on, but by no means difficult. Some drops off rocks were awkward with a pack on and required a little gamble here and there, but really, nothing too bad.
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