Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

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Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 9:02 am

I wrote a brief trip report https://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 87#p428014, but I didn't want to trash the thread with images, so as an excuse to post some images, another thread...
(sorry, ignore the rambling, and enjoy the photos)
I started at Upper Howqua campsite, went up and then back down Howitt Spur, staying at Mac Springs, camping near VG Hut.
Walk up was hard, but not impossible.
I'd had a cold for a week or more which seemed gone on the day before, which may have slowed me down?
The walk along the Howqua until the Thorn range/Howitt Spur intersection is easy, but wear pants/gaiters if you don't want blackberries scratching you.
Following the sign to Howitt Spur, and crossing a bog you see another sign pointing to the start the spur track proper.
About a bakers dozen switchbacks in succession gets you up onto the spur, then it levels out a bit.
Not much in the way of views as the forest is thick, you're low, and best to look out for snakes of which I saw 1 Alpine copperhead sluggishly slide away from the track.
It gets easier, with flat bits breaking up climbing of the next km or 2.
Then about 1400m, the switchbacks return and it gets steep.
You start to see glimpses of geography between the trees.
IMG_4234.jpg
Hells Window

After a while, and a lot of switchbacks/zig-zagging the steep track you get to the bottom of the West Peak outcrop/bluff.
I near crapped myself thinking I'd have to go straight up that, but the good folk on this forum had assured me it wasn't as bad as Helicopter Spur, so I continued despite doubts.
IMG_42430136.png
West Peak

The track siddles to right, does a lot of tight switchbacks, with some parts of the track being quite rocky, and eventually you go straight over the top of the last bit of the outcrop and collapse.
QSBQ3998.jpg
Relaxing with Mt Buller

The views are pretty special up there...I must have been using the camera a lot, as a hiker I passed commented that he thought I was taking a photo everything.
In my defence, it's great scenary, you never know if you're going to return to a place, and I was taking a photo or video of everything! (How else can I justify the constant breaks to catch my breath?)
I mostly took video, so only a few photos of well known landmarks.
TVZR4565.jpg
Cross Cut and Mt Speculation

IMG_4259.jpg
Viking's Helmet & Devil's staircase

IMG_4270.jpg
Devil's Staircase with the Razor and Viking photobombing

I eventually trundled into Mac Springs. I hadn't realized that it's a bit of drop from Mt Howitt down to the Saddle before Mac Springs then up a bit to the Springs.
It's on the map, but I guess I read topo maps bad?
I was debating with myself if I mislead or lie to myself about how I'm capable of doing something, so I give it a shot, instead of looking at the brute facts that most of the stuff I try I'm probably not up to? (Helicopter Spur waves!)
Anyway, I got to Mac Springs, grabbed some water, flowing beautifully.
Had a look at Vallejo Ganter Hut and the Loo with a view.
IMG_4273.jpg
VG Hut

IMG_4275.jpg
Loo with a view

I set up camp, chatted or harassed other bushwalkers about how'd they come in and where they'd been/were going.
I was interested in how many were coming in from Howitt road or ways ways of ingress and how hard heading out past Mt Magdala was in comparison to Mt Speculation.
I hadn't planned on what I'd do the next day, it depended on how I'd pull up in the morning.
IMG_4287.jpg
Crosscut/Speculation near sunset

I met PCV and with a couple of others who'd set a fire in VG Hut we had a bit of a chin wag, which was fun.
Talking about different experiences bushwalking and all that stuff.
I thought I'd set my tent up well, near the hut, but must not have noticed it was part flat, part tilting.
The inflatable mat kept twisting from under me due to the tilt, and if you're not fully on the mat, it doesn't keep you off the ground properly.
On top of that my inflatable pillow deflated quickly so I tried to get by with socks and stuff.
Didn't sleep much, it was cool, but my with 6C down bag and fleece/thermals I was just warm enough.
I gave up trying to sleep about 4:30am. Got out the stove and heated up water for noodles & coffee.
Packed up slowly, waiting for nature to take it's course so I could use the 'Loo with a view' for the morning, erm, constitutional...(too much information)?
IMG_4298.jpg
Loo with a view part 2

I left intending to drop the pack at the Crosscut saw turn off and head to the highest point.
After my lack of sleep, I wasn't enthused about another night without sleep so I thought I'd check a few things out then head down.
I had a quick chat with PCV who was breakfasting in his spot near the spring, and talked about his suggestion about heading past Mt. Magdala to Bluff hut, then down to Upper Howqua via Bluff link track, but he thought it was a few days hike.
So, I discounted that.
I left feeling good, but after crossing the saddle and ascending a while I started to feel a bit nauseous and got a headache that wouldn't go.
By the time I got to the Crosscut turn off I was not good, so I decided just to limp back down to the car.
It was a long slog. I never got that 'second wind' and just had to grind it out.
Not exactly a roaring success as I didn't get to do anything like get out to Speculation or Magdala, more a whetting of the appetite...
Was a good hike, a bit hard on the way up, but doable, and ended in a fizzle.
At least I made it up top for once!
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby neilmny » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 10:38 am

Nice report and pictures Baeng72 thanks for posting.
Any ideas what knocked you around?
Sounds a bit like dehydration maybe?????
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 11:16 am

neilmny wrote:Nice report and pictures Baeng72 thanks for posting.
Any ideas what knocked you around?
Sounds a bit like dehydration maybe?????

Thanks.
It certainly could be that.
I drank a lot of powerade on way up, a litre of water drank in pretty much 1 gulp on top of west peak, plus plenty of water + electrolytes at camp and was urinating fine, but who knows? They symptoms fit.
It's a bit weird I felt fine the previous afternoon, and next morning until I started walking. Maybe just alergic to walking? :)

I'm still a bit ordinary today, so, no idea...
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby neilmny » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 1:13 pm

Your desire to enjoy the view before departure may have given you more than a view. :wink:
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby bigkev » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 5:48 pm

Well done Baeng, it looks like you got some great weather :D The views of Mt Mandala as you climb can take away some of the pain on that route I reckon. Sounds a bit like Dehydration to me however it could be just some other bug- I've just come off a 3 day walk in QLD which knocked me around a lot, which I'm guessing is because I'm not really 'match fit' at the moment. Maybe you could ramp up to Stanley Name next - it's not as tough as Helicopter and has a nice camp with water about 2/3 of the way up (easy to make it into a 2 night job).VG Hut sounds like it may have been way too social for a curmudgeonly old bast@#d like me :wink:
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 8:12 pm

bigkev wrote:Well done Baeng, it looks like you got some great weather :D The views of Mt Mandala as you climb can take away some of the pain on that route I reckon. Sounds a bit like Dehydration to me however it could be just some other bug- I've just come off a 3 day walk in QLD which knocked me around a lot, which I'm guessing is because I'm not really 'match fit' at the moment. Maybe you could ramp up to Stanley Name next - it's not as tough as Helicopter and has a nice camp with water about 2/3 of the way up (easy to make it into a 2 night job).VG Hut sounds like it may have been way too social for a curmudgeonly old bast@#d like me :wink:

Thanks Bigkev. Might be dehydration then.
SNS sounds like Helicopter in that if you don't take right route you'll end up at a rock-climb and if you're not 'match-fit', it'll be too much.
PCV told me a bit about it, and I'll give it a go one day I reckon, but I'm warming to the idea of starting up high by driving in to the Howitt road carpark first.
Just have to wait for news the track has been graded and I can get away.
I surprised myself how much I didn't mind speaking with strangers. Must be some post-lockdown thing where you haven't met or spoken with anybody in ages, so it seems OK?

What walk did you do in Queensland? Blog post coming up about it?
Last edited by Baeng72 on Wed 29 Dec, 2021 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby Baeng72 » Wed 29 Dec, 2021 8:13 pm

neilmny wrote:Your desire to enjoy the view before departure may have given you more than a view. :wink:

That'd teach me. But I was cautious about hygene and took 'artistic' licence in not doing the constitutional and photographing at the same time.
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby bigkev » Thu 30 Dec, 2021 3:16 pm

Baeng72 wrote: What walk did you do in Queensland? Blog post coming up about it?


I did the Conondale Range Great Walk over three days at Christmas, 30 C day and night - pouring with rain most of the time - a million leeches and ticks - just over 60 kilometres with way to much climbing for my conditioning :lol: All and all a successful walk! It'll most likely pop up online in the near future...once the trauma subsides.
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Re: Howitt Spur to Mac Springs 27-28 Dec 21

Postby Baeng72 » Thu 30 Dec, 2021 8:08 pm

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