This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2000 Travels February 22

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TUESDAY 22 FEBRUARY    CYNTHIA BAY

I got up at 8am, to a cloudy day. Took my morning coffee down to the lake side and sat, watching the water. It was rather windy.

We set off, walking, about 10.30am, to tackle the track to the summit of Mt Rufus. This peak – some 1400m high – is at the “back” of Cynthia Bay. The walk is one I did many years ago, when staying here after an Overland Track walk. It is a circuit of about 20kms – up Mt Rufus, from Cynthia Bay, then back via Richea Valley and Shadow Lake.

We were later leaving than we should have been – story of our lives! The cloud overhead was fast moving, and it did not look to be a promising day for going up high, in these parts. I suggested we walk to Forgotten Lake first, then see what the Mt Rufus summit area looked like from there – in effect, starting the circuit the reverse way. However, John was determined to tackle Rufus today, regardless.

We did not have far to walk, maybe 500 metres, from the campground, along the start of the Overland Track, before coming to the Mt Rufus track, which veered off to the left. Then, it was a steady climb.

There were some really pretty parts, in myrtle forest and the like, with lots of lichen and mossy growths on the trees, which was enchanted forest-like! There was a desolate area, higher up, where bushfire had killed the snow gums, which were just bare, silver trunks. There was one beautiful old, low, tree, half dead but battling on with its other half, really gnarled, with moss and lichen hanging off it. I stopped, admired it, touched it – as a sign of encouragement, I think. I don’t normally do that sort of thing.

02-21-2000 lichen Lake St Clair.jpg

Lichens festooning a bush

As we climbed higher, we came out of the tree line onto rocky, alpine scrub and marsh areas. The wind was noticeably stronger and it was quite cold. The clouds were really racing over.

We climbed up onto the ridge that leads, for over a kilometre, to the summit. Here, the wind was strong enough to make one stagger and lose their footing. It was really hard to walk.

We encountered the couple that we’d met and talked with at the Lake Dobson car park, after we’d finished the Tarn Shelf walk. They were on their way down from the summit of Mt Rufus, and said that it was even windier, higher up.

We went to the top of the first ridge, and could see the main summit, probably about twenty minutes walk away. The wind was horrendous, and the clouds coming in looked really threatening. This was no place to be caught in really rough weather, as can happen quickly in the Tasmanian alpine country, so we decided to turn back.

02-22-2000 mt rufus windy.jpg

Strong wind blowing John’s coat off near summit of Mt Rufus

It was disappointing not to reach the top and see all the fantastic mountain and wilderness views that I remembered – but even had we reached the summit, cloud would have prevented much of a view. It was never the right sort of day, weather-wise, to tackle this walk. It was probably surprising that we got as far as we did.

It was a long, downhill trudge, back the way we came. It was also disappointing not to be doing the circuit walk.

We were out for about five hours and walked about 14kms.

As we were walking through the timbered lower section, heard a tree fall, somewhere behind us.

Back at the lake level, the wind had really picked up, too. It was very gusty. A tree had come down over the road, near the van.

02-22-2000 windy day at Lake St Clair.jpg

Tree down over the road – our van visible through the trees

John decided that, from now on, he wanted me to take a photo of the van at every place we stayed. His memory is such that he already can’t remember many of the places from the last couple of years, so he wants photos as a memory aide.

Tea was pork and veggie stir fry, and rice. We had it quite early, being hungry after the day’s efforts.

After tea, I tried doing some sewing, but the light was too poor. John read and played on the computer. I went early to bed, with sore feet after the day’s walking, and with the van rocking about in the wind. We just hoped no more trees fell!

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