Some places are idyllic, others are just a little better....
Tassie had been going through a rather frosty phase with the Central Highlands settlement of Liaweenie recording Tasmania’s lowest ever temperature of -14.2°C last week. I had the chance to get away for 3 days so I packed my pack and headed for the mountains.
On my first day I walked to a favourite, seldom visited area in the highlands. I saw no one as I walked in through snow around 20 to 30 cm deep. It was cool, and a totally clear sky heralded a possible frosty night.
After finding a suitable place to camp I set up my new tent; a 4 season Mont Dragonfly. I had already spent a few nights in this tent and I had found it easy to erect, well made and solid as a rock once pegged out. Not to mention utterly palatial for one!
I wandered around for a couple of hours looking for images then headed back to camp to cook dinner before the sunset. I am fortunate in having a wife that enjoys preparing and drying my meals for me so dinner was worth looking forward to :).
By the time the sun had slipped below the horizon, my trusty thermometer was telling me it was -2°C already. Might be a cold one....
I was asleep at 7.30pm after reading for a while. Tonight’s read? Captain Francis Crozier, a brilliant Arctic and Antarctic navigator that was one of the party that tried to find the North West Passage under Sir John Franklin. A voyage destined for tragedy. They were a heck of a lot colder than me :)
I knew that the Milky Way would be fully visible overhead by around 10 pm so I set my alarm to wake up then, to see if it was worth the effort for some photographs.
After 2 and a half hours of sleep, lovely and warm in my new winter bag, a Spindrift XT1000, I forced myself to face the cold and check out the night time sky.
Exiting the tent I was greeted by a beautiful dome of glittering diamonds above, utterly clear and very, very cold. A quick check of the thermometer confirmed that it was indeed a little cool....-9.5°C!!
The next 2 hours were spent trying to adequately capture the scene before me, which only improved even more when the moon peaked over the horizon. I used my Kindle to light the tent for the images.
I have mentioned before how impressed I am by the new Mont Primaloft Guide Hoodie. This deceptive jacket, that tries to pack down to nothing, impresses me every time I wear it. I had the Guide Hoodie on over a thermal top and Mont Slinx, along with a balaclava and beanie. The only part of me that got cold was my hands as I had to keep on taking my mittens off to operate the camera. The jacket rocks!
Back into the luxury of the bag, I set the alarm for 6am so that I could catch the sunrise.
And the surprise when I woke up? The second lowest temperature I have seen in Tassie’s wilderness...-10.2°C! Pretty nippy by most standards. (The lowest was -13.8°C many years ago in the Walls of Jerusalem).
A lazy morning in the tent before packing up and wandering across to my next camp a few kilometres away.
Once again, perfectly clear skies and no wind made it a pleasure to be out in the mountains.
Once I had reached my destination I stamped out a flat area in the snow for my tent and set up camp again.
Unfortunately, the battery in my (not so trusty now) thermometer had died so I don’t know how cold it was on the second night, but going by the readings at Liaweenie and the fact that my boots froze solid inside my tent I reckon around -8°C would be fairly close to the mark.
A bit of a sleep in this time then a relaxed pack up before heading back to the car.
The wilderness is such an awesome way to recharge! And Winter has it’s own very special beauty to enjoy.
Wilderness Photographer & Mont Ambassador
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As summer approaches, I keep looking through my list of past walks to see which ones I want to do again.
In September 1986 I walked from Lake St Clair, up past Little Hugel to Mt Hugel. I then continued down the western slopes to Lake Hermione, followed a valley up to Lake Petrarch and walked back down to Lake St Clair. A good partly offtrack bushwalk. This time I only had two days, so the plan was to camp next to a tarn up on the Mt Hugel plateau.
One of the biggest jobs at Mont is customer service, with the inbox sometimes a little overwhelming! But the emails are overwhelmingly positive; questions about our gear, emails about how well a customers gear worked, and fun stories and photos from the wild.
It isn’t all smiles, though, negative emails do occasionally pop up. But not to let that get us down, often these emails highlight a failure of communication on our part or provide information for us to reflect upon and improve.