INHOSPITABLE STACK’S BLUFF
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On Saturday, June 2nd., 1934, we commenced another effort to reach Stack's Bluff (5010’), allowing two and a half days for the project. At 1.50 p.m. Jeff set off for Englishtown with the intention of preparing a camping place for us for the night near the site of our camp on the Ragged Mtn. enterprise. I was delayed owing to my competition in a cycle race and it was not until 5.5 p.m. that I departed from King's Meadows to follow in the wake of my mountaineering partner.
The sky was overcast and a strong, cold, southerly wind was blowing and, as my energy had been severely taxed by the twenty miles race, I did not relish the hard ride in store for me. I had not gone far before darkness descended and the night was one of the darkest I have experienced. The cycling proved to be an ordeal for I could scarcely see the road, yet less avoid the pot-holes and sandy patches ever in evidence. At length I reached the Englishtown Hill and it cost me quite an effort to surmount this three mile obstacle and reach Mr. Brown's residence at Englishtown at 9.15p.m..
About half to three quarters of a mile from here was the camp-fire as an occasional spark bore testimony. I searched in vain for the track but at length gave it up and struck off through the bush for the camp. The bush here is very thick and before I had gone a hundred yards I lost all trace of the fire. After I had covered about half the distance to the camp-fire, I realised the futility of continuing further and decided to return before I became 'bushed'. After a little difficulty I found my way back to Brown's shortly before 10 p.m. and spent the night in the barn where I was pleasantly surprised to find a rough bed.
Arising about 7 a.m. next morning I set out to join my companion, a journey soon accomplished. Jeff had spent a reasonably good night’s rest, thanks to a covering of bags which he had borrowed. We chatted over our short-comings as we breakfasted and at 8.15 a.m. we bade farewell to the camp.
The weather, which at no time since we left Launceston appeared likely to hold fine, now looked practically hopeless for our enterprise. We pursued the same track as that we had used on our three previous excursions in this locality and at 9.55 a.m. we gained that familiar landmark, the site of the trappers' hut. From here we continued onwards towards the south with the object of skirting the mountain wall until we reached the vicinity of Stack's Bluff.
Light snow and rain had been falling for some time and by now our attire was somewhat dampened, our spirits even more so. The low-lying clouds, at times only a hundred feet overhead, made visibility exceedingly poor, this condition being particularly evident in the south where a wall of clouds denied us a view of that locality during our whole visit.
After leaving the hut site a mile behind us, we reached a grassy clearing which occupies the highest part of the valley between the Ben Lomond plateau and Ragged Mountain and forms the watershed between a small tributary of Jack's Creek and a similarly small affluent of the Nile River. The clearing, which owes its origin entirely to natural causes, is over half a mile long, varies in width and is never without a little water except perhaps at unusually dry periods. Entering the clearing from the northern end, we experienced the full fury of the strong southerly wind while it hurled the ice (frozen rain-water) from the bordering tree tops. Soon after crossing the clearing we called a halt and reluctantly decided to abandon the trip. At 10.40 a.m. while my companion undertook the task of making a fire to dry our clothes I made my way for another mile to look over our proposed route. After leaving the clearing, the country ahead begins to slope down rather rapidly into Speke Gorge through which the Nile threads its way. This gorge appears to be much deeper than either of us had anticipated. I descended the gorge in a diagonal manner edging towards the mountain wall so as to effect a crossing as high up as possible, thereby hoping to reduce the descent. However, I did not go far enough down to learn much data and was far from the bottom of the defile when I began my retreat.
At 11.25 a.m. I regained my companion and a quarter of an hour later we forsook the fire. We were both loth to discontinue the enterprise, especially as this was the second occasion upon which we had been thwarted whilst striving for the same objective; yet it would have been useless to have pursued the project further in such weather which became more threatening as we progressed. A mile brought us to the north end of the clearing, leaving four and a half miles to cover before reaching the camp-fire of the previous night. This was accomplished at 2.30 p.m. and here we dined. At 3.15 p.m. we were again afoot and, mounting our cycles, bade farewell to Englishtown a quarter of an hour later. At 4.20 p.m. we were at the bottom of the Englishtown hill and reached Launceston at 6.20 p.m..
It is indeed unfortunate that on both our attempts to gain Stack's Bluff
that the weather has intervened to prevent us achieving our object but
we hope to again essay the trip next summer when the days are longer and
generally fine. Even then I imagine it will cost us quite an effort to
effect the climb in the proposed two and a half days.
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