South Coast/SW Cape/Port Davey tracks April-May 2022

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South Coast/SW Cape/Port Davey tracks April-May 2022

Postby spr » Wed 11 May, 2022 10:24 pm

Sorry for semi-technical report style, pls ask questions as needed
Day 0
Landed at Hobart 9AM on schedule. By 11AM food drop left at Par Avion, gas bottle bought and I'm hitchhiking at Tasman Hwy turnoff.
Get a lift to Hobart CBD quickly, and at noon I catch a (conveniently free today) bus to Dover, 4PM-ish get to Cockle Creek.
Local traffic disappears between Hastings and Ida Bay. I get lift with one of three (?) remaining cars for the day, but it looks like plenty of campers and day-hikers go there in the morning.

Day 1
Relaxed walk, ~15km.
Met two groups walking to Cockle Creek and few day hikers to South Coast Bay.
Most of the track to South Coast Bay is boardwalk or well-groomed (bridges everywhere, no fallen logs or any overgrowth). Afterwards, it becomes muddy at places, but still drier than start of Port Davey track.
Camp 3-4km past South Cape Rivulet at (-43.60595 146.75129). Creek water under boardwalk 100m further west.

Day 2
Remaining distance to Granite Beach takes 4-5 hours, the track is muddy and comparable to Port Davey track north of Junction Creek.
Weather becomes sunny around noon, heavy shower passes 3PM-ishas I walk Granite beach, then weather becomes dry until sunset.
Remainder of track to Surprise bay is easy with couple of muddy patches.
Met one group of 5-6 people eastbound.

Day 3
Easy walk, less than dozen patches of light mud.
Weather is surprising - no rain at all, becomes sunny with scattered clouds past noon.
Ironbounds are covered with clouds all day with cloudbase of - I guess - 800..900m. Likely I will end up in these clouds tomorrow.
Lots of eaten dead birds along Prion beach (and one tired or dying, barely reacts when I touch it).
Met 3 couples eastbound.
Camp at Turua beach.

Day 4
Ascent to Ironbound takes 5 hours and includes half km off-track detour as I miss a creek crossing at (-43.53010 146.47752), at 45.5km from Cockle Creek.
Ascent (from Deadmans bay) is muddy and steep, but not 'technical' - lots of roots and other grippy things around.
Descent (to Louisa river) is a bliss : lots of new stairs and boardwalks, most of the track lined with fine grav.
Thin clouds at 500-600m as I ascent, sunny above (with views of clouds flowing over ridges), then thick clouds after 3PM.
Couple of good campsites between Little Deadmans bay and start of ascent/descent, nothing between Ironbound high camp and Louisa River. High camp fits 1..2 small tents and looks wet (should be inside the cloud most nights).
Lost count of eastbound hikers met today,~15..20

Day 5
The track is very easy all day, boardwalks and stairs everywhere you would imagine.
Sunny morning, then gets gradually more cloudy.
By 4PM, cloudbase drops 'diagonally' to 150..200m (higher over land, lower over the sea).
Abundance of edible mushrooms at Louisa Creek (on its west coast).
Camp above the track and Freney lagoon, 500m after turnoff from the beach. Not completely horizontal, but good view.
Met 4 hikers eastbound

Day 6
Easy walk to/from Melaleuca, picked up 10kg of food drop there. Wilsons Bight track (branching from SCT ~5km south of Melaleuca) is moderately wet, resembles beginning of PDT.
Left Melaleuca 2PM, got to New Harbour 540PM, at early twilight. Lots of whale bones at the campside. I camp at sand bank between ge lagoon and the sea.
Night is relatively cold and humid.
Dry weather forecasted for two more days (almost a week in a row !!!).
Insane amount of stars above me.
Met 2 hikers eastbound and one pilot (of two aircraft landed).

Day 7
New Harbour-Wilsons Bight, 14 km
track is easy enough, maintained at some places (few bridges and stairs in good condition) and slightly overgrown at others (ascent to Amy range from east/Ketchem bay side). Plenty of leeches on track past Ketchem Bay.
See a quall crossing a beach and few blue starfishes in a rock puddle in Wilsons Bight.
Sunny morning, hazy and dry all day, drizzle late evening.

Eugene -, [11.05.22 14:37]
Day 8
Wilsons Bight-Window Pane Bay, 14km
Seen a small seal in the morning at Wilsons Bight
Ascent to Mt Karamu is easy (some steps on he climb !) and takes an hour.
Track over SW Cape range is clear and mostly easy (but any loss of track on descent and you're stuck in grass and scrub.
Sunny all day until 4-5PM - first time since arrival to Tassie I felt hot on few occasions.
Get late on descent to Window Pane Bay (and miss my chance to camp on last saddle at ~400m elevation before the track goes down steeply).
Come to the camp 7PM, after an hour of walking (and wading the Window Pane creek three times) in the dark

Day 9
Window Pane bay - Hannant Creek, 15km

Sunny and warm morning, short showers from 10AM to 3-4PM, strong W wind (guess 20knots at 300m) and spectacular skies all day.
Arrive to Noyhener beach around noon (in 4.5hrs) and continue towards Horseshoe inlet, hoping to get there at low tide tomorrow.
Find a single Black Diamond pole on the track just before Noyhener beach. I take it, and after half day of usage realize how insufficient (that is - short and not telescopic anymore) my old poles are.
Lots of seagulls, cormorants and one (recently) dead seal there. I get one tick per day - they bite, but don't burrow and easy to remove.
The track is well marked on approach to Noyhener beach. Past Noyhener, the track is (luckily) easy to find again, following the folk knowledge from
Camp on Western side of Pascoe range, up from Hannant Creek. Fix my tent with all lines, pegs and rocks available, but winds subside after twilight.

Day 10
Hannant Creek - beach camp south of Bathurst Narrows, 8-9km ?
Showers and strong W winds most of last night and all day, with showers and couple rainbows in between.
Descend to Horseshoe Inlet quickly by noon (last kilometer off-track), then spend 3 hours crossing the inlet.
Swimming the Horseshoe Creek takes 3+ rounds with single 40L drybag. In the end, I'm seriously frozen (shattering teeth, mind slows down, have issues opening mouth), but after dressing up I recover in 20 min, just in time to wade the next creek.
It looks like Horseshoe Creek would require swimming in almost any conditions. I was crossing in 0.8m tide, lowest feasible is 0.1-0.2m - might be enough for at all person to wade neck-deep, but still need to waterproof the backpack just as for a swim.
Likewise, two next creeks east look ok to wade in almost any high tide (was ~1m deep for me, might be 1.5-1.6m at high tide).

Day 11
Beach camp-Creek camp, ~12km
Lots of eagles and cormorants soar Bathurst Harbour coastline.
Crossing Bathurst Harbour at strong W winds tricky for two reasons : difficult to maneuver the boat off the launch (lots of rocks and shallow seabed within 10m around the southern launch), and then to row upwind. 300m crossing takes me 1.5 hrs. Boat launches look state-of-art, Northern one (Joan point ?) does even have a winch.
When camping near boat launches, water can be obtained from boat hulls (between 10 and 40L in each, after few showers)
Midday I catch (photograph and release) a big 20+cm crayfish in some tiny creek. Realize that lots of small claws I see on track might belong not to crabs, but to smaller crayfish (some birds hunt/fish them ?)
Raining all day after 10AM with short breaks (no sun, can dry up on the wind).
Camp at creek crossing, 500m short of Spring River bridge.

Day 12
49km-32km of PDT, 17km
track becomes easy and mostly good soon after leaving Spring River and climbing to the Lost World Plateau.
Raining most of the day, but today I see some blue sky and a moment of sunshine in between.

Day 13
32km-16km of PDT, 16km
More heavy showers during the night and some in the morning.
Sky clears up by noon - no more rain, lots of spectacular clouds, cloudbase is well above 1000m.
Find a cluster of mushrooms for dinner - just in time to extend my melting food supplies, now good for 2+ more days.
Fording of a creek at ~30.5km, just before a camp, can be avoided by a 50m deviation to a mossy log 'bridge'.
track across Crossing Plains is - surprisingly - dry and easy. Just before Crossing River crossing, here are some metal mesh 'paving' (!!!). Crossing River ford is knee-deep.
In the evening, I watch the sky with stars and fast-flying dark clouds, occasionally lit with distant lightnings (no thunder).
Around midnight, heavy rain (and gale winds) start. By the morning, over 40mm of rain accumulates in my pot outside the tent.

Day 14
16 km of PDT - Scotts Peak Dam
Raining most of the day, with couple long breaks.
track becomes a creek at most places, and 'real' creeks get swollen, but muddy parts are not that bad (compared to the same time last year).
I abandon the idea of climbing Moraine Alpha and camping at Lake Cygnus (although the ridgeline of Western Arthurs becomes clear of clouds many times) and head straight to Scotts Peak Dam.

Day 15
Scotts Peak Dam - Mt Anne track, 20+km
Morning is nice and clear, I go for Lake Judd-Mt Anne loop.
Next to Edgar dam, see a big group of kayakers ready to launch on identical tandems (and lots of identical tents nearby). Don't see them later on the lake.
Walk to Lake Judd turnoff takes below 2 hours, ascent to plateau past Mt Sarah-Jane 2 more.
By 3PM I pass the Lonely Trans camp and start ascent to Lightning Ridge (don't do it with less than 4-5 hours of daylight remaining).
Weather spoils soon after and turns to a proper thunderstorm with some snow after 7PM.
Camp in difficult conditions.

Day 16
More thunderstorm, hail and snow in the morning.
By noon descend to High camp hut. 45° descent from Mt Eliza is difficult, but easier than either side of Lightning Ridge.
Meet three hikers in a tent at Mt Eliza, stay with them in the hut for the day.
Weather clears for early afternoon and opens some views around.

Day 17
Descend from the hut in 1.5 hours and catch a lift to Hobart with yesterday's new companions.
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Re: South Coast/SW Cape/Port Davey tracks April-May 2022

Postby Tortoise » Thu 12 May, 2022 8:21 am

Wow! Great trip, and lots of useful info. Thanks for posting. :)
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