03 May 2010

Frenchman's Cap Jan 2003 - Day 4

Lake Tahune to Irenabyss

Drops on lily flowerIt rained that night, alarming us with some moisture at the feet of our sleeping bags. We had paid a lot for this tent, as storm-proof (okay, storm-resistant) four-person tents are very hard to come by, and were disappointed. What if it rained a lot? That does happen in Tasmania. Anyhow, the overnight rain had made for a good photo opportunity, which Joseph made the most of. We decided to ignore the coming weather and walk out from Frenchmans northwards, rather than back the way we came. This meant descending 1000 metres to the Irenabyss, crossing the Franklin river without a bridge, at a point that is not fordable (either swim or paddle), and walking out over the Mary Creek Plain - another soggy bog (with a surprise creature awaiting us, more of that tomorrow). Sounded like fun.

As we left to climb North Col a second time (this time with packs on), it started to hail. Then - in typical Tasmanian highland in summer fashion - it started to snow. We were delighted as the exposed quartzite became even whiter. By the time we left the North Col, however, it had hailed again, an icy, sleaty wind had whipped up, and we had an 8-9 km walk along an exposed ridge before our descent. Once we had reclothed the kids and ourselves in some warmer gear, we continued on. Finally, after weeks of alpine walking in good weather in the previous years, our preparation had paid off, and we didn't feel so nerdy about all our warm clothing.

Lake NancyThe track to the Irenabyss from Lake Tahune is as hazardous as it is spectacular. Following an exposed ridge above several alpine cirques, you then descend very steeply and "slipperily" to the Franklin River. Much of this is achieved on one's bum, mostly unwillingly. Here you perfect the art of falling on your pack, to avoid breaking arms and necks. After a chilling trip from Lake Tahune, we tumbled down to the Franklin river.

We were ready. We had carried lilos in to cross the Franklin river, however all that was rendered unnecessary when a rafting group arrived. They wanted to camp there, too, and agreed to carry us across in exhange for letting them use "their" site. We were happy to oblige, as the northside campsites were nicer, though smaller. Despite the earlier chill of the day, we paddled up the Irenabyss on our lilos. This is a deep chasm cut by the river and the river slows down appreciably. Paddling through and just lying there looking up at the walls is very peaceful.

The Franklin river is much warmer than Lake Tahune, made obvious when you paddle over to where Tahune creek joins. Freezing!

There are some remnant Huon pines on the Franklin here, too. Most Huon pine has been removed from Tasmania by loggers over the past one hundred years and the Tasmanian environment continues to be threatened by rapacious logging.

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

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