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Into the mountains again. By Geoff Murray

March 04, 2021 1 Comment

Into the Mountains. By Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray

Being a sucker for punishment, this week, I chose another walk that involved a significant climb of 600 metres to get up into the mountains. At least this time, the temperature was a much more humane 12 degrees than last week’s rather tough climb into the Western Arthurs in 30+ degree heat.

Leaving my car, it was only a half kilometre or so before the track entered thick bush and mud. A short section like this then it was into open country as the track headed steeply upwards. Last week it took something like 2:35 to climb Moraine A into the mountains, but the heat made it a tough climb. This time it took me 2:15 from the car to the high point on the track, and it was a relative doddle with the top seemingly arriving in no time at all.

Conditions were misty as I climbed, but near the tops, the mist cleared to reveal small patches of blue overhead. This, to me, is bushwalking at its best: solitude, wilderness and the beauty of nature all around. I could have been a thousand miles from civilisation.

A wander around the immediate area looking for photographic possibilities for the next day gave me a few ideas. Then, as the sun neared the mountains to the west, it cast a warm light that filtered through the mist creeping back up the slopes, surrounding me with airborne gold.

I fired up my now trusty stove :) and cooked dinner.

Towards sunset, mist filled the valleys below as the full moon slid into view, casting its magical light over the landscape. The temperature eased into low single digits under a now clear sky.

Mornings for a photographer are always early, and my alarm went off at 5.40 am, giving me plenty of time to have breakfast before heading off to a suitable spot to wait for the sun.

My location was spectacular, overlooking a lake far below, but despite that, it isn’t always easy to find captivating images. Luckily I had found a couple of promising locations the day before, and these proved worthwhile. Happy with my results, I made my way back to camp a couple of hours after sunrise.

Today I planned to just “go for a wander” across the plateau to the south, visiting some tarns and patches of stunted pencil pines and king billy pines.

This area in western Tasmania catches the full brunt of the Roaring Forties as they hit the West Coast. The weather here is often brutal, with low temperatures, heavy precipitation and savage winds. It’s a place to pick your weather forecast carefully, and the vegetation reflects the difficult conditions, seemingly clinging to the rocks and trying to keep a low profile. “Keep your head down” has never been more relevant.

One of the advantages of having a 4 season tent with you is the security it provides in the mountains if the weather forecast is wrong. I don’t relish the idea of spending a night sitting up holding tent poles to prevent my tent from collapsing around me…. The Dragonfly tent is strong and dependable; I never have to worry about the conditions outside.

The clouds filled the sky overhead in the afternoon, so the camera stayed in its bag at sunset. Another uncharacteristically windless night passed, and I allowed myself a little longer in the sleeping bag in the morning after checking outside to make sure a sunrise wasn’t likely.

My plan was to descend back to my car in the morning in time to drive north to visit some of the fabulous rainforest that cloaks the western Tasmanian landscape.

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon, but instead, I had “partly cloudy” which was in reality “mostly sunny”, not handy for rainforest photography where rain and cloud are ideal.

I found a suitable subject for my camera and settled in to wait for a cloud to block the sun, so I could capture the waterfall before me. Capture captured, and it was time to move on to the next location. A few kilometres drive on rough rocky tracks led me to a faint 4wd trail heading south across the marshland. I parked the car and started walking. I was walking carefully as I had forgotten my gaiters and so far, I had seen 3 Tiger snakes. Heading south, I made my way towards some trees on the edge of the marshland. The sun was almost continuous now, and it almost seemed pointless to continue as photography was not going to be worthwhile. My mind was made up just after entering the trees as a large, but beautiful yellow-bellied Tiger snake slithered across in front of me. He was not happy about being disturbed and was fully prepared for a fight. I turned and left him in peace, deciding that a visit would be better in cooler, cloudier conditions... with gaiters.

It’s a long way from Tassie’s west coast to my home, and I walked through my front door at around 10 pm that night, tired but happy.

Geoff Murray
Mont Ambassador

Gear used


1 Response

Mark
Mark

March 15, 2021

Thanks Geoff, another entertaining and informative article and great photos. Mark

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