Heading off this week

A forum for discussing the Australian Alps Walking Track. This is a 655 km long track from Walhalla (Vic) to Tharwa (ACT)

Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Sun 15 Oct, 2017 6:36 pm

Well finally the day has arrived (well almost) and I'll be staggering out of Walhalla on Thursday morning, before after no doubt much sweating, swearing, cursing and generally questioning my sanity I will hopefully arrive safely at Tharwa at the start of December. The last food drop for the Walhalla to Hotham section was done last weekend and it's all go! I'll be doing the Hotham to Thredbo food drops when my partner comes up to meet me at Hotham for a couple of days r+r, same for the Thredbo to Tharwa Section.

Thank you to Xplora for keeping us all updated on conditions up that way, I've been following your posts over winter very closely. I'll hopefully give an update on conditions when I get to Hotham, all going well.

So, for the others in the class of '17, anne3, Dreamer and AWTtrekker good luck and I hope to see you somewhere on our travels.

If anyone finds themselves up at Hotham over Melbourne Cup weekend keep an eye out for the slightly dishevelled feral looking bloke with 1000 yard stare breasting the bar at The General, looking like he'd be more at home on the couch watching the cricket. That'd be me :shock:

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My last food drop going in.

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The view from Mt Selma Road and Champion Spur Track on Saturday, there was still some good snow around:)
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby peregrinator » Sun 15 Oct, 2017 9:39 pm

Judging by your many previous informative posts/blogs (on walks here, there and everywhere), I am eagerly anticipating updates about this latest expedition. Whether it goes well, not so well or perhaps both, I'm sure they will be excellent reading. Good luck and successful staggering!
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby ofuros » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 4:53 am

Have a great trip, bk.
Mountains view are good for my soul...& getting to them is good for my waistline !
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby anne3 » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 5:17 am

Good luck! I've guesstimated that our paths might cross around the NSW boarder. Hope all goes well for you (and me). Catch you out there, Anne.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby walkon » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 6:10 am

Good luck Kev, Anne, trekker and anyone else going for a long stroll.

Enjoy the walk peeps it's a beautiful journey. I'm getting itchy feet just thinking of it.



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Cheers Walkon

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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Dreamer » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 7:59 am

Happy trails bigkev. I plan to get started mid Nov, might catch you on the trail between Hotham & Thredbo (or in a bar at Thredbo!). Heads up...a group raising money for Cathy Freeman Foundation has started south-to-north and encounted up to waist deep snow (maybe up to 800mm) in parts on first days out (on October 14th), although that's probably only for relatively short sections. See updates and photo here: https://www.facebook.com/OneStepataTime2017/
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby AWTtrekker » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 3:34 pm

Hey mate, are you going solo? We are heading off from Walhalla only a couple of days after you. How many days are you walking the track over? We may end up crossing paths
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 6:57 pm

Dreamer wrote:Happy trails bigkev. I plan to get started mid Nov, might catch you on the trail between Hotham & Thredbo (or in a bar at Thredbo!). Heads up...a group raising money for Cathy Freeman Foundation has started south-to-north and encounted up to waist deep snow (maybe up to 800mm) in parts on first days out (on October 14th), although that's probably only for relatively short sections. See updates and photo here: https://www.facebook.com/OneStepataTime2017/


Hi Dreamer, I'm thinking that with my extra relaxed itinerary most of the snow between Walhalla and Hotham will be manageable. The High Plains and Bogong will have a fair cover when I get there but providing the weather isn't too bad they shouldn't be a real problem. The Main Range will also still have a fair cover as well but once again, unless the weathers really bad it should be ok - I won't be there until late November. I'll keep an eye over my shoulder for you when I get up near Thredbo :D

AWTtrekker wrote:Hey mate, are you going solo? We are heading off from Walhalla only a couple of days after you. How many days are you walking the track over? We may end up crossing paths


Hi AWTtrekker, Yeah I'm on my own. You may very well indeed pass me, I'll definitely be in Hotham on Cup Weekend as I'm meeting my partner up there, if I get there early I'll head over to Feathertop for a day or two. Keep an eye out for a bright orange MSR tent and an Osprey Pack. Good luck with your walk.


anne3 wrote:Good luck! I've guesstimated that our paths might cross around the NSW boarder. Hope all goes well for you (and me). Catch you out there, Anne.


Hi Anne, I'll be in Thredbo around the 20th of November. It would be great to catch up with you on the track somewhere and get a bit of a report on the snow conditions on the Main Range. Good luck on your walk.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 7:03 pm

walkon wrote:Good luck Kev, Anne, trekker and anyone else going for a long stroll.

Enjoy the walk peeps it's a beautiful journey. I'm getting itchy feet just thinking of it.



You don't have to be great to start. Though you have to start to be great.


ofuros wrote:Have a great trip, bk.


peregrinator wrote:Judging by your many previous informative posts/blogs (on walks here, there and everywhere), I am eagerly anticipating updates about this latest expedition. Whether it goes well, not so well or perhaps both, I'm sure they will be excellent reading. Good luck and successful staggering!


Hi Guys, thanks for the best wishes, believe it or not these little positive comments actually help lot on some of the tough times when I'm walking solo :D

I'm sure I'll slap together something when it's all over peregrinator, I'm taking my DSLR so hopefully I'll get some nice photos.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby AWTtrekker » Mon 16 Oct, 2017 7:37 pm

I suspect you'll be just ahead of us the whole way Kev. We will be at Hotham on the 8th and Thredbo on the 26th, but if you get delayed at all or have any dramas we won't be too far behind you :) We are a group of three, my father and myself(I'm female despite what many here have mistakenly thought LOL) and another gentleman.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby neilmny » Tue 17 Oct, 2017 2:58 pm

Good luck Kev. I'm ready looking forward to your goin' feral write up. :D
Safe travels to all in the class of 17.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Lophophaps » Tue 17 Oct, 2017 3:32 pm

Kev and AWT Trekker, the timing looks good in that the creeks will be more likely to be working, such as at Magdala and Viking Saddle. By the time you reach the Bogong High Plains the snow will hopefully be gone, and at KNP there should just be drifts. Please note that the first 596 kilometres is the hardest. Think about the log book entry at Cascade Hut, northbound, day 13. A slower pace as befits my advanced age seems best.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Tue 17 Oct, 2017 6:55 pm

neilmny wrote:Good luck Kev. I'm ready looking forward to your goin' feral write up. :D
Safe travels to all in the class of 17.


Thanks Neil, I'm sure the AAWT will give me plenty of material for a feral write up :wink:

Lophophaps wrote:Kev and AWT Trekker, the timing looks good in that the creeks will be more likely to be working, such as at Magdala and Viking Saddle. By the time you reach the Bogong High Plains the snow will hopefully be gone, and at KNP there should just be drifts. Please note that the first 596 kilometres is the hardest. Think about the log book entry at Cascade Hut, northbound, day 13. A slower pace as befits my advanced age seems best.


Believe it or not that was a bit of my cunning plan, go early enough that water should not be too hard to find and with a little snow to maybe help the photos, but not enough snow to really slow me down much - so far so good, we'll see how it all pans out.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Tue 17 Oct, 2017 7:00 pm

AWTtrekker wrote:I suspect you'll be just ahead of us the whole way Kev. We will be at Hotham on the 8th and Thredbo on the 26th, but if you get delayed at all or have any dramas we won't be too far behind you :) We are a group of three, my father and myself(I'm female despite what many here have mistakenly thought LOL) and another gentleman.


Yeah, it looks like I'll be a little in front all the way. If we don't catch up on the track I'll look forward to reading about your adventures on the forum.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby sim1oz » Thu 19 Oct, 2017 8:26 pm

Happy walking BigKev! We may run into you near Hotham as we are heading up that way with our kids for a wander over the Cup Day weekend.
Carpe diem!
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Xplora » Fri 20 Oct, 2017 6:17 am

Nearly 55mm of rain at Falls Creek yesterday and some warm days should have much of that snow gone on the High Plains by the time you get there. I can't see it to be much of a problem but I have noticed the amount of snow lost over the last week when I look out the window. Last week the level was at 1600m and I would think pretty soon or even now it will be around 1700m. Maybe the odd drift from wind accumulation to get around. The Long Spur is clear already apart from a bit on Bossiaea and that was last week. The only issue will be high rivers or creeks. Not sure about the Big River crossing at T spur.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Xplora » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 7:40 am

I have been told someone heading south was at Johnnies top yesterday, Kennedy hut last night and will be staying at the Glen Wills retreat tonight. If I catch up with him I find out what the conditions are to the north. From the information I have received, he is behind schedule a couple of days which maybe due to snow on Main Range. Hope the trip is going well Kev. You will probably pass each other some time soon anyway.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Xplora » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 6:36 pm

Word is the snow on Main Range is not a problem. Very patchy and no need for snow shoes. Plug on through unless you feel like taking them off and putting them pack on for short distances.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 4:35 pm

Well I arrived at Mt Hotham yesterday and all is going well. I seemed to cop my fair share of inclement weather with snow falling at Whitelaw Hut Site, Mt Clear, Macalister Springs, Mt Speculation, The Razor, The Viking and on my climb up the GAR to Mt Hotham, I did get a couple of days of blue sky to dry things out a bit - so all's good :wink:

This section was actually in pretty good nick (better than I'd feared), obviously there is a lot of climbing and descending but there is no surprise there. The regrowth situation is not too bad, the Barry Mountains were probably the worst as far as regrowth goes. The Razor Viking - to Barry Saddle took me about 10 hours (with an hour off in the middle of the day at Viking Saddle). The track marking has made this section a lot easier navigation wise than it used to be - it's still very rough going though.

The walk from Mt MacDonald to the Viking has to be the best sustained walking for great scenery in Victoria I would of thought, it's one stunning view after another. The weather actually enhanced things in a way, after all it is the Alpine track!

So far I've only met one walker heading south, a young bloke (I think his name was Ben) who I met as I was heading into Barry Saddle after a long day, he looked like he was doing it a lot easier than me :oops: I also bumped into an older guy descending off Mt MacDonald who was meant to be heading north but was pulling the pin and heading back to Low Saddle to get picked up, he'd had a navigation scare getting off Mt MacDonald and had decided enough was enough.

Anyway I've got a couple of days R+R here in Hotham where I'll also do my food drops for the next section to Thredbo.

Cheers
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Xplora » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 6:04 pm

Well done Kev. Big River is dropping so the you may be good to get up T spur. Currently 1.3m at Joker. Normal summer level is 1m there which means the T spur cross is good. I work on 1.2m at Joker to be passable at T spur. Hoping the chain is still in place and any report will be welcomed. I can pass on directly to PV any problems that concern them from where you are until you cross the border.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 6:54 pm

Xplora wrote:Well done Kev. Big River is dropping so the you may be good to get up T spur. Currently 1.3m at Joker. Normal summer level is 1m there which means the T spur cross is good. I work on 1.2m at Joker to be passable at T spur. Hoping the chain is still in place and any report will be welcomed. I can pass on directly to PV any problems that concern them from where you are until you cross the border.


Thanks for the Big River info Xplora. I'm actually planning on heading up Quartz Ridge and around that way, so I haven't been overly concerned about Big River down the bottom of Duane Spur. I'll give an update on what I find on the track again when I get into Thredbo in a couple of weeks so you can pass it onto Parks Vic. I'm looking forward to this next section as once I drop off Mt Wills I'm in uncharted territory until I get over to The Cobberas.

What's the go with the long ridge running down off Johnnies Top? I was thinking of topping up my water at the tank and then heading down the ridge to camp, somewhere before it drops off steeply down to Buenba Creek. Am I likely to find a small, flatish opening on the top half of the ridge?

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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 7:45 pm

Kev, the trip sounds interesting so far. On your Viking day, where did you start? I did Johnies to SOBO 11 months ago and it was a generally easy to follow, with a few trees across the track north of the tank here and there. The last 2-300 metres distance to the creek is quite steep, and I lost the route on the creek flats just before the spur. The section to west of Buenba Hut site, 815374, is track on-off quite a bit. From Buenba Hut site it may be easier going east along the track instead of SE across the plain. The latter involves hitting the track end on, and it's a bit boggy.

I had lunch at about 1200 metres on the Johnnies Top Spur, reasonably flat, athough I cannot recall a clearing. It should be possible to camp there. The 1200 metre lunch was the first decent flat spot that I could find above the creek, and I really wanted to get a few contours over before eating. Note that the climb from the Benambra Road to Johnnies Top is 900 metres and 15 kilometres, a fair step. I went Johnnies Top to the Mitta Mitta River in a day, but this was mostly downhill. This is why I like camping on summits - the next day starts downhill. My best effort was Bogong: 18 metres up, some 1200 metres down.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Mark F » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 8:20 pm

I also did it SOBO a few years ago after a very wet winter. Like Lophophaps the section at the bottom where one left the ridge was very vague and the high water level added to the problems. I ended up camping about 10m up from the river on the ridge, rather rocky but managed to find a poor site and get the tent up. The climb was pretty straight forward, steep and on the ridge for the first part and then climbing more gently across the slope as I rose towards Johnnies Top. I expect descending it would be important not to drop too far down before ending up on the crest of the ridge. I would tend to either camp at the tank on Johnnies Top or a km or more past the bottom of the ridge.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 8:26 pm

Lophophaps wrote:Kev, the trip sounds interesting so far. On your Viking day, where did you start? I did Johnies to SOBO 11 months ago and it was a generally easy to follow, with a few trees across the track north of the tank here and there. The last 2-300 metres distance to the creek is quite steep, and I lost the route on the creek flats just before the spur. The section to west of Buenba Hut site, 815374, is track on-off quite a bit. From Buenba Hut site it may be easier going east along the track instead of SE across the plain. The latter involves hitting the track end on, and it's a bit boggy.

I had lunch at about 1200 metres on the Johnnies Top Spur, reasonably flat, athough I cannot recall a clearing. It should be possible to camp there. The 1200 metre lunch was the first decent flat spot that I could find above the creek, and I really wanted to get a few contours over before eating. Note that the climb from the Benambra Road to Johnnies Top is 900 metres and 15 kilometres, a fair step. I went Johnnies Top to the Mitta Mitta River in a day, but this was mostly downhill. This is why I like camping on summits - the next day starts downhill. My best effort was Bogong: 18 metres up, some 1200 metres down.


Hi Lophophaps, my Viking day had me leaving Catherine Saddle at around 9am and arriving at Barry Saddle at 19:00, a pretty solid day for me as the weather wasn't ideal all day.

I'm thinking that the 1200m contour coming off Johnnies Top looks good on the map, I'd like to break up the decent a bit - we'll see...

I've kind of got that section just after the Buenbra Hut Site (heading north) in my mind as a spot that I'll have to be spot on with my navigation, the spur that you climb doesn't look overly pronounced, I'll take your advise regarding following the track.

Cheers
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby bigkev » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 8:37 pm

Mark F wrote:I also did it SOBO a few years ago after a very wet winter. Like Lophophaps the section at the bottom where one left the ridge was very vague and the high water level added to the problems. I ended up camping about 10m up from the river on the ridge, rather rocky but managed to find a poor site and get the tent up. The climb was pretty straight forward, steep and on the ridge for the first part and then climbing more gently across the slope as I rose towards Johnnies Top. I expect descending it would be important not to drop too far down before ending up on the crest of the ridge. I would tend to either camp at the tank on Johnnies Top or a km or more past the bottom of the ridge.


Hi Mark, I may end up just camping near the tank on Johnnies Top, I'm just wondering what my options are if I get up there early in the afternoon, from everything I've read the creek flats are a little on the damp side sometimes so I'm not overly keen to drop off Johnnies Top late in the day and have to pitch in a swamp :wink: It'll all depend on how long it takes me to stagger my way to the top from Benambra - Corryong Road I suppose.

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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Mark F » Sat 04 Nov, 2017 9:19 pm

I remember not looking forward to the climb up the ridge but found it went quickly - maybe 2 - 2.5 hours up and certainly should be quicker on the way down. The Buenba Ck flats is just a continuous grassy camp site once you get a couple of km past the base of the ridge - it is really just a matter of how far you want to walk that day.

I found the section from the Turnback Ck Track to the Benambra-Coryong Road (I was descending) rather slow - rocky with a few small steep sections though rocky prominences. Once on the forestry tracks it is just one foot in front of the other.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Xplora » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 3:31 am

Kev - not sure if you have done the Grey Hills and Quartz before so just in case you haven't, there is no real track from Spione Kopje to the Grey Hill ridge line but it is pretty obvious where you have to go once you can see the ridge line. Just find the best track you can through the low scrubby heath stuff. There will be water to fill up on Spione Kopje but none on the Grey Hills then again at Bogong Creek Saddle before you head up. I suspect pick up sticks again on Quartz ridge until you get some height. Hopefully not as many trees down as last year. No doubt you will enjoy a night at Cleve Cole. No real water points on the Long Spur and if you had rain the night before then there is section just before Mulhauser and beyond to the vehicle track where the overgrown scrub will get you pretty wet.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 6:21 am

Kev, the Benambra Road to Johnnnies Top is not too bad, just long and dry. There was a SP on the road - most AAWT road and track junctions have this. Then it's a good track on flats getting steeeper and steeper to the overhang, where a few big nuts protect the crux ... Sorry, that's a rock climb. About 1.5 kilometres distance from the road is an ankle-breaking rock field, no markers or obvious route. The track reappears at the top. I submitted a report to PV saying that the rocks should have markers. From here it's still steep for a bit, then a nice track in forest to Turnback Creek. Flat for a bit then rope up for a steep 4WD track to the junction. After that it's more gentle mainly up undulations to Johnnies Top. Collapse gratefully in a small heap and check for a pulse.

Corner Creek has reliable water, but it's scrubby. I did not see a swamp. If you pick up water at Corner Creek and go for about 20 minutes or less the scrub opens out to nice camping spots. There are a few swampy bits east of here, but it's mainly dry and open. Note that the on-off track may be a short way from Buenba Creek, and it may be scrubby to get water. Water is at Johnnies Top, Corner Creek and near Buenba Hut Site.

Note the sign on the JT tank. In Chapman it's "Drinking water". Now it's "Rain water". There's a little sign in Chapman and now saying not to drink it. This is CYA in case there's something amiss with the water and somone sues.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby Dreamer » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 7:23 am

Well done on reaching Hotham Kev, I had been wondering how you were going. Thanks for the update on conditions...sounds pretty good except for the weather. What are the daytime temperatures like (don't say variable!)? Was there anything you wished you had packed (or not packed)?
PS your water availability update on other thread is spectacular...thanks again.
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Re: Heading off this week

Postby north-north-west » Sun 05 Nov, 2017 9:40 am

bigkev wrote:What's the go with the long ridge running down off Johnnies Top? I was thinking of topping up my water at the tank and then heading down the ridge to camp, somewhere before it drops off steeply down to Buenba Creek. Am I likely to find a small, flatish opening on the top half of the ridge?


From memory, if you stay on the right line for the descent - and it can get vague in places - the only camping between the tank and the flats is a relatively short distance from the tank. Plenty of open glades up there between the snowgums, but once you start to drop there's not much in the way of campable sites. There are one or two good spots further along the ridge, but you'll be way off line if you find them.
This is assuming the track still follows the same line it did last time I was there.
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