01 May 2010

Frenchman's Cap Jan 2003 - Day 2

Loddon River to Lake Tahune

The Loddon Plains are button-grass plains, and over the years, wear and tear from walkers has penetrated the thin shell of soggy vegetation, bursting down to the muddy layer beneath. In places, this mud is nearly waste deep. Environmental etiquette demands that you walk through the middle of the mud, to avoid making the track wider and braided. One can make two points on this:
1. Wading through deep mud is exhausting and treacherous on knees and ankles, as you can't see the surface your feet are trying to get a purchase on.
2. Many folks aren't playing the game, as the track is braiding and spreading up to about ten metres wide, making it look more like an Amazonion estuary
Whilst a fair bit of trackwork has been done here, I can see that Tassy Parks will probably stop soon. The mud keeps the numbers down in the park!

We lunched at Lake Vera. The plan had been to stop and overnight here, but weather predictions suggested that we best be on Frenchmans Cap tomorrow sooner rather than later.

The climb from Lake Vera to Barron Pass is about 300 metres or so and fairly steep. It runs alongside a rushing stream for much of the time before climbing into the pass. The view is huge, absolutely breathtaking (the climb has something to do with this) and very hard to photograph. The panorama above is made up from about ten shots in two layers. Left is White Needle, about 500 metres away and another 100 metres up. The three lakes are Gertrude, Magdalen and Millicent, 2-7 km away and 500 metres below. Above them is Clytemnestra, 8km distant and 100 metres up. The eastern face of Frenchmans Cap is obvious, though bigger than it looks on the photo. It is about 6-7km away and another 500 metres above us. To the right is Sharlands Peak and some of Nicoles Needle, 50 metres away and 100 metres up.

Looming 500 metres above, yet still over a kilometre away, Frenchmans Cap completely dominates the Lake Tahune valley, gouged out by a glacier millions of years ago. 22 years ago, this made a great photo (twice as high) with the lake in the bottom. In that time, though, trees and shrubs have grown, and the lake is no longer visible from the hut. The dead white tree trunks are skeletons of King William Pines, excruciatingly slow growing native pines that were burnt in Tasmania's worst bushfire in history (it obliterated the south half of the state, killing many people) back in the 1960s. Because they are so slow growing, it will be centuries before they become visible in this area again.

Telopea flowersThe Artichoke Valley and Lake Tahune area are amazing pockets of microclimates for all sorts of interesting flowers, many of which are in bloom in January. The Telopea (called Waratah in NSW, where most telopea species are found) is a remarkable flower both in its form and colour. The whole Frenchmans Cap area never ceased to delight, on both the large scale and the small.

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As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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