A VAIN ATTEMPT AT FEDERATION

by
Keith Lancaster 

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Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.

The 1947-8 summer had not been rich in mountain excursions due to the difficulty in finding hiking companions. My delayed annual leave did not materialise until Easter when it was invariably difficult to secure walking company beyond holiday limits but, by a stroke of good fortune, I was able to make a last-hour arrangement with Ron Smith of Hobart for an attempt at that so far invincible eastern bastion of the Arthur Range – Federation Peak.

Thus it was that I was in Hobart on Monday, March 22nd. 1948 discussing final plans with Ron prior to our starting off on the Wednesday morning. Ron was familiar with the route through as he had been within 5/8m. of the base of Federation Peak and was fairly well acquainted with the shortcomings of other unsuccessful parties. As this expedition had to be designed, on account of the distance to be traversed, on very different plans to our blitzkrieg and semi-blitz tactics employed on other shorter trips, it presented quite a new phase in hiking technique, although many innovations employed could well be utilised to advantage on shorter journeys. This was the first occasion when dried, dehydrated and concentrated foods formed the major portion of our diet, whereas previously we had chosen more weightier foods to save time lost in cooking. Most of the other equipment was reduced to a minimum and aluminium was the basic metal for our utensils. Perhaps never before was so much thoroughness engaged in a trip preparation and, even so, our packs still contained 50-60 lbs. At the start. Aerial photographs received close study in selecting a probable climbing route.

On Wednesday, March 24th., I picked Ron up at Davey St. at 4.43 a.m. and we were off to a good start. Mountain mists around Ferntree reduced our pace considerably for some miles but we reached the turn-off near Judbury soon after daylight (30m. - 5.58 a.m.), and, negotiating the rough side road much slower, parked the car near Fletcher’s hut (100’ - 34m. - 6.19 a.m.). A few minutes were spent with Mr. Fletcher before setting off at 6.38 a.m. under our heavy loads to regain the road via his apple orchard. Low mist covered all the surrounding hills and wind was absent. The road soon came to an end {120’ - 2m. - 7.18 a.m.) and we continued along the right bank of the Huon on an easy grade track to gain the temporary Hydro camp at Frying Pan Creek (3m.) where a cage had been erected over the Huon. Soon after the track turned to the left away from the river and made altitude, becoming lees well-defined. The more uneven going made us more than ever conscious of the magnitude of our burdens which, already, were affecting arm circulation. The monotony was broken by our arrival at the Arve River, which is crossed on a large fallen tree, and the Arve Hut was secured on the far bank (120’ – 5½m. - 8.55 a.m.).

After leaving the Arve Hut at 9.7 a.m., another half mile of bush going brought us into the open button grass. The mist had evaporated now and the sun was beaming down from an almost cloudless sky. The button grass continued for about 3½ miles, taking us beyond the Huon’s southward bend to the beginning of the Picton Forest. The track then became boggy through the combined action of recent rains and pack horses, whilst an occasional fallen tree combined with our packs to make affairs less bearable. The latter portion of the forest going improved and the ti-trees presaged our arrival at the Picton Hut (210’ - 12m. - 12.15 p.m.). Here the billy was boiled and dinner taken. It was grand to be free of those weighty rucksacs for a while, although the arrival of countless mosquitoes and blowflies banished our hopes of peaceful relaxation.

Resuming at 1.40 p.m. through more ti-tree, the heat of the day became more pronounced. Beyond the living ti-tree, a section of burnt ti-tree and bracken appeared and this was finally replaced by a section of scrub and forest wherein fallen logs had to be scaled before we crossed the Picton River via the high suspension bridge (200’ – 13 1/3m. - 2.20 p.m..). Photography and a rest claimed 20 min. before our resumption through a little more scrub before encountering button grass. The button grass soon gave way to a section of bracken near the top of a rise and this was replaced on the other side by easy myrtle going close to the Huon’s bank. Beyond this, the track undulated through gum and mixed growth, amongst which dogwood, mimosa and cutting grass predominated with huge and small slippery logs lying in abundance across the rather overgrown track. The continual climbing over such obstacles and up and down the grades under such solid burdens at this stage of the day was finding our “weak” points and progress was painfully slow. Prospects of gaining Blake’s Hut that night fast disappeared and we elected to pitch camp on a previous camp site on the Huon’s bank over a mile down-stream from Riveaux Falls (240’ – 15½m. - 4.15 p.m.).

Whilst our mattress of ti-tree tips and dicksonia fronds was tolerably comfortable, we discovered a defect in our oiled silk tent - its habit of permitting breath condensation inside and the disadvantages of its curtailed height. The night was clear and the moon large but morning broke with a low river mist in command again. A small cache here made but an infinitesimal reduction in our packs and, with the inner wants generously administered, we set off at 8.35 a.m.. The same combination of fallen trees and logs, dogwood, ti-tree, mimosa, cutting grass, undulations and track obscurities were encountered immediately. The tinv “Globex Creek” was the first landmark passed at 8.55 a.m. and the same order of things continued on to “Riveaux Camp” (300’ – 1m. – 9.25 a.m.). Our first rest of the day (10 min.) was enjoyed before pushing on to the Riveaux Falls just beyond. The mist had cleared now and a clear sky showed through while a slight improvement in the route was discernible. Beyond “Big Creek” which is crossed on a sloping log (400’ – 2½m. - 10.41-10.50 a.m.), the forest was broken by a tiny button grass patch (440’ – 3¼m. - 11.13-11.20 a.m). Back in the scrub, progress was not so hampered by fallen timber as before and at length we came suddenly upon Blake’s Hut (500’ – 4½m. - 12.3 p.m.).

While dinner was under way, the hot sun enticed me to a splash in the river, and clothes were hung out to dry up perspiration. A snake was dispatched here at the hut and another met the same fate in the “opening” later. Dinner over and another tiny cache effected, we were off at 1.40 p.m., soon entering the open button grass at Blake’s Opening. A breeze was springing up now and a few isolated clouds hove in sight but there was nothing to prevent a good view of both Picton and Weld. Turning to the left at the button grass, we headed for the highest point of the "opening", where a small pile of dead wood marked the entrance to the scrub beyond. The early bush country amongst ti-tree, bracken and dogwood was not encouraging and very lightly blazed but, as the steep rock outcrop was reached, the route became the toughest so far encountered on the trip - very steep grades having to be tackled. Frequent spells were the order and it was a pair of very tired and hot hikers who topped “Red Rag Scarp” (2370’ – 7½m. - 4.53 p.m.).

After a 10 min. spell, we entered the myrtles which occupied. a gradual slope above. The scantily marked route through the myrtles presented difficulty in the late afternoon gloom, but they soon gave way to a cutting grass patch which, in turn, led up to semi-open button grass on the northern shoulder of Mt. Picton. We crossed a north-flowing creek on this relatively clear shelf and, keeping to the north-west of the stream, followed it up at a distance to reach. Ron’s previous camp site just beyond North Lake at dusk (2850’ - 9m. - 6.33 p.m.).

We were not astir so early on Good Friday (Mar. 26th.), prob¬ably owing to our late arrival and consequent late retirement. Low clouds only about 200’ above us enveloped Picton, and a light north-westerly was blowing. A sprinkle of rain had occurred during the night and the barometer had fallen. It was not until 8.37 a.m., that we left our reasonable camp and pushed on over the saddle to the west and descended to the first of two small creeks flowing northward through pineapple grass (2800’ - 1m. - 9.2-9.7 a.m.). The second creek was passed soon after and we continued uphill through dead gum, cutting grass and pineapple grass, at first inclining to the left towards a landslide ahead, passing “the pool” and inclining back to the right until we crossed the saddle near a second landslide and then dropped down to “North Plain Creek” (2950’ - 2m. - 9.38 a.m.). A good, fine weather camping spot exists here and a 5 min. spell was taken.

Inclining slightly to the left, we climbed on to “Fool’s Ridge” near its offshoot northward from Hewardia Ridge (2½m. - 10 a.m.), and then, still proceeding westerly, edging on to Hewardia Ridge itself. On account of the thick mist here, we lost a minute or two locating the rock cairn (3m.) from which the line of rock outcrops marked a curved route to the south-west, after which we descended slightly to the right to pick out the isolated, tall, burnt pandanni (3½m.) near which water exists and, soon after which the route swings to the left along the southern continuation of Hewardia Ridge. Here again, the heavy mist caused the loss of a few more minutes in locating the “Low Saddle” which was to take us westward from Hewardia Ridge to the westernmost ridge of the Picton group - a high north-south ridge containing McPartlan’s Bluff. Once again, however, Ron's knowledge of the route soon corrected our course. We descended a little too soon but encountered “Low Saddle” farther along and halted for dinner on the rise beyond amongst the dwarf myrtles, leatherwoods and King Billies, the first living trees we had encountered for hours in a desolation of bleached dead trunks (2820’ – 6¼m. – 12.15 p.m.). When water was located, the billy was boiled amid the cutting grass after fruitless efforts to kindle a fire. At 1.22 p.m. we were off again, climbing to the top of the high ridge before us (3500’) and, turning southward, descended to “Pineapple Flat” on the north-east side of McPartlan’s Bluff (3200’ - 8m. - 2.33 p.m.). Continuing at 2.40 p.m., we detoured around the west and south-west of McPartlan’s Bluff to top a bare ridge leading southward. Passing the rock cairn on the summit of the next rise (3.12 p.m.), we passed the next high eminence around its eastern shoulder and then swung over the north-west side of the following and last peak of the ridge to descend through recently burnt timber towards a low ridge (also burnt) which led down to the Craycroft Valley. The descent via “Wilsmicro Lead” occupied some time. At its base a small Craycroft tributary was crossed before we effected a crossing of the South Craycroft and elected to camp on its western bank near the edge of the burnt timber (1200' – 12½m. - 5.19 p.m.).

It was a treat to be able to divest ourselves of the packs from which no cache had been made during the day and must have still weighed well over 40 lbs. each. The threat of rain was imminent as we set about preparing the camp and the evening meal. We were forced to bed early by the advent of the rain which continued lightly throughout the night, which was both cold, wet and windy. Continued rain pinned us in bed until 7.45 a.m. when we prepared breakfast between sprinkles. Snow was showing out on Mt. Hopetoun and most of the peaks and hills around us which were visible, while light hail began to fall, although blue patches could be seen in the sky above. The barometer has fallen again overnight and it appeared that weather conditions would deteriorate. We lost a little more time in drying out some wet clothes which we were unable to dry on the previous night owing to the arrival of the rain.

At 9.50 a.m. we set off westward in a heavy hailstorm towards the West Craycroft, which joins the South Craycroft a little below our camp. Unable to find a dry crossing, we made the north bank wet-foot and then carried on westward parallel with the stream through burnt button grass. There was abundant evidence on all sides that the huge bush fire in the Craycroft Valley during the mid-summer was no ordinary affair. The havoc wrought on “Wilsmicro Lead” was duplicated in many other places. The valley had been well “scorched” and the fire had ran well up the side of Mt. Hopetoun and smaller hills. It, however, had left the horizontal and other impedimenta between us and Federation intact, all but a mile or more of banksia and ti-tree which had mingled with the button grass. Passing by an earlier camp of Ron' s, we continued on through the burn to enter the green again and re-cross the West Craycroft. We carried on along the southern bank, following recent blazes and searching for an old blazed route which inclined to the left. Ti-tree, gum, laurel, myrtle and horizontal with cutting and button grass infiltrations were the main constituents of the vegetation. After having to retrace our steps for a way, we located the old blazes and commenced re-blazing, soon coming to the camp-site, used by Luckman’s party earlier in the season, on the river side in a patch of high paper barks and myrtle (1370’ – 3½m. - 12.38 p.m.).

Rain and hail had fallen throughout our morning’s march and we were well and truly wet. Owing to the adverse weather conditions, Ron suggested camping here till the morning rather than risk being be-nighted in the big section of horizontal ahead without a suitable camp-site or no possibility of making a fire. Under the circumstances, the suggestion was the most practicable, so we set about dinner and camp preparation without delay, the fire-making presenting some difficulty. The afternoon brought heavy falls of hail and rain and the hail laid around in unmelted heaps, but still we managed to dry out most of our wet things by the huge fire before nightfall. The barometer fell still further during the afternoon but then remained stationary until dawn next morning when it rose a little.

Rain fell practically incessantly during the night, increasing the noise of the nearby West Craycroft. Peeping out of the tent about 7.30 a.m. we received a rude shock. The West Craycroft had risen about three feet overnight, more than trebling its volume and had overflowed its banks, flooding our campfire, the country around and refilling the nearby billabongs. Our slightly raised tent floor formed an island whilst our fireplace was washed away and all around inundated. With water only a couple of inches below our sleeping bags, an early change of camping site was indicated. We dressed and packed our rucksacs in record time and waded across the flooded button grass and ti-tree flat to reach higher ground to the south - a small rise covered with banksia, ti-tree and button grass (1420’ – ¼m.).

The steady drizzle emphasised the desirability of re-erecting our tent with the utmost expedition, but the rise was no ideal camping spot. A rough site was selected, cleared and lined with wet ti-tree branches and the tent erected. Damp and freezingly cold, we crawled into our sleeping bags, finding it very difficult to restore warmth. At mid-morning the clouds broke to let the sun through for a few moments but rain soon re-appeared. The barometer rose soon after our arrival but then remained stationary. Rain continued throughout the afternoon, pinning us to our sleeping bags. We despaired of making a fire and contented our stomachs with cold collations from our food store and rainwater caught in our billy from the tent. Our hastily constructed mattress was rough and most uncomfortable and it was practically unendurable to lay on one's side.

Thus, for the second day, the elements obliged us to lay siege to Federation Peak and nothing can be much duller than lying in idleness, seeing precious hours drifting away and our prospects with them. A strong breeze sprang up at nightfall. The barometer rose steadily all night but the morning (Monday, March 29th.) broke misty and drizzling. Dozens of mosquitoes had taken refuge in our tent from the weather but, surprisingly, showed little aggression. Today had been set down by Ron as zero day for a forward move as the base of Federation should be gained before night to permit of an attempt at climbing on the morrow and a return home in time for work. The continued drizzle, the wet forest, the flooded plain and the mist-shrouded hills all contributed to making the required move forward inadvisable. In spite of our good early progress, Federation had fought our efforts with rain, hail, snow and floods sufficient to outstay our siege limitations.

Around mid-morning, a lull in the drizzle tempted me outside and I began the delicate operation of attempting to light a fire, a task which succeeded after much effort. We breakfasted, dried out the wet gear, packed and broke camp, leaving for home at 12.30 p.m.. The sky was completely overcast but fairly fine with mist still covering the peaks. Although quite close to and in line with Federation, we had not yet seen the Peak although we could see, occasionally, its base. We pushed across to our previous camp, finding that the West Craycroft had retreated within its bed, leaving the campsite high and dry again (1370’ – ¼m. - 12.35 p.m.). From evidence available, it appeared that the flood waters had risen little after our departure.

We left this campsite at 12.40 p.m., accomplishing an amount of new blazing on our return down-stream. The crossing of the swollen stream was effected not without difficulty and soon we re-entered the burnt country, passing Ron’s old campsite at 1.45 p.m.. After discussion, we agreed to camp within close range of Mt. Hopetoun on our left so that, if the weather improved by tomorrow, we could essay an ascent of that peak as a consolation prize. We continued down the burnt button grass, inclining to the left, and chose a campsite alongside a creek where it flowed out from some burnt timber en route to the Craycroft (1350’ – 1½m. - 2.25 p.m.). The bare climbing ridge to Mt. Hopetoun lay only a short distance away to the north-east. This time we were able to ensure that our tent was much more comfortable. We used the ample time available to prepare and devour some of our more nourishing concoctions as a foundation for the morrow. Towards evening the weather improved and blue sky broke through. The night was cold, calm, and fine with stars showing and the barometer rose a little higher.

Tuesday, March 30th. dawned cold and cloudy and we were astir at 4.45 a.m.. Nevertheless, it was 6.38 a.m. before we left camp with only the camera and a small food bag as baggage. The sky was clearing rapidly as we pushed up the bare climbing ridge, then dropped over to the base of Mt. Hopetoun and started ascending through the burn, although fallen timber made the route less attractive than it appeared from a distance. After a long steep climb, we breasted the top of the easternmost peak of Hopetoun (3330’ – 2m. - 8.55 a.m.) to find that the main massif of Hopetoun was some way ahead. A grand view of Federation rewarded us to the south-west and brilliant sunshine was with us for the first time for days. With Ron deciding to remain on this vantage point, I pushed along the irregular and narrow ridge which led towards the thick snow on the plateau beyond. Arriving on this small flat "plateau" (3550’ – 3½m. - 9.50 a.m.), a remarkable panorama opened around me, particularly to the south and west where Federation and the adjoining Arthurs stood out in glistening splendour. The camera came into its own and a unique opportunity was afforded of studying climbing routes to the obviously difficult walled summit of Federation.

At 10.10 a.m. I pressed on further north over a few more eminences to climb the northernmost peak of Hopetoun (3650’ - 4m. - 10.25 a.m.) which, in company with its adjoining eminence, is the highest point of Hopetoun. According to the records of surveyor T.B. Moore, who named Mt. Hopetoun, the name was applied to the whole section of the Arthurs east of the low pass to the east of West Portal and, in those circumstances, it could not be said with certainty that this point was Hopetoun's highest. But, according to present maps, the name of Mt. Hopetoun is applied only to that massif we occupied and which is divided from the rest of the Arthurs by a rather low wooded col.

A grand view was obtainable - one which I could have gazed on for hours in mute adoration had not a brief time limit been placed upon my stay by mutual consent. A compass check on the chief points gave the following magnetic readings:
Federation Peak, 208 deg.;
lake just below me, 208;
Federation lakes, 214;
large lake under Arthurs, 246;
West Portal, 295;
Mt. Wedge, 328;
Anne, 333;
Weld, l;
Picton, 28;
McPartlan’s Bluff, 44;
South Picton, 62;
Hartz, 80;
Esperance, 90;
Adamson's Peak, 102;
Bobs, 114-121;
La Perouse, 140;
Pinder Peak, 146;
Precipitous Bluff, 152;
Hopetourn "plateau", 117.

After erecting a small cairn atop, I left at 10.42 a.m., halt¬ing a few moments at the next summit to similarly decorate it before retreating to the snowy "plateau" (3550’ – 4½m. - 11 a.m.). I immediately pushed back down the narrow, ragged climbing ridge to join Ron and together retrace our course back down the steep devexity of Hopetoun. The weather was glorious now, the view superb and we felt somewhat compensated for our recent shortcomings. We arrived back at camp (1350' - 8m. - 1.19 p.m.), had dinner, packed up and resumed our homeward trek at 2.45 p,m..

We located a log crossing of the West Craycroft in its serpentine section and crossed the South Craycroft by swinging off an overhanging tree close to our earlier camp site (1200’ – 9m. 3.15 p.m.). After crossing the next small stream, we found the steep grade of “Wilsmicro Lead” very tiring in the warm sun with still substantial packs. The sun set just before we topped the South Picton ridge and we then pushed over to the eastern side of the ridge in search of a camping spot. Nothing very pretentious was available, but we chose a spot on this snow-spattered waste (3400’ - 12m. - 6.2 p.m.) which, surprisingly, was converted into quite a comfortable habitation after much labor whilst Ron the cook had abundant worries to contend with in his culinary operations.

The morning of Wednesday, March 31st, dawned cold and clear and we were astir about 6 a.m. preparing for the day. We broke camp at 7.5 a.m., making the summit of Farmhouse Cliff Peak (next height north of South Picton) our first stop (3650' - 2/3m. - 7.24 a.m.). We left at 7.30 a.m. for McPartlan’s Bluff, which lay at 5 deg., and climbed to its top via the south-east (3650' 2m. - 8.11 a.m.). The advent of the sun was still retarded by a few eastern clouds but the view of the Arthurs, Mt. Anne, Bobs and the southern mountains was splendid. By now I was well acquainted with the outlines of many new peaks that had been sighted for the first time by me on this trip. A check of these points disclosed:
Picton, 6,
Weld, 346;
Anne, 322;
next eminence on route, 305;
West Portal, 262;
Arthur Pass, 255;
Hopetoun, 224;
Federation, 221;
Ironbound, 186;
Farmhouse Cliff Peak, 83;
South Picton, 177;
Precipit¬ous, 186;
Bobs, 166;
Pinder, 159;
La Perouse, 148;
Adamson’s, 121;
Esperance, 113;
Hartz, 102;
Wellington, 44;
lake south of Picton, 31;

Leaving McPartlan’s Bluff at 8.35 a.m., we continued northward along the snow-spotted ridge, descending to our right into the trough of “Low Saddle” (2750’ – 3½m. - 9.45-10.3 a.m.), then climbing up on to Hewardia Ridge on the other side (3000’ – 4¼m. - 10.23-10.35 a.m.). Continuing northward for a while, the route takes a full right incline, along a saddle leading north-east and then swinging east to pick up the isolated tall pandanni (6m. - 11.15 a.m.). Still pursuing an easterly course, we climbed slightly to the rock outcrop, following this along past the cairn on Hewardia Ridge (6½m. - 11.27-11.40 a.m.) to cross over “Fool's Ridge” (7m. - 11.54 a.m.) and descend to “North Plain Creek” below (2950’ – 7½m. - 12.3-12.10 p.m.). The snowfall had been fairly heavy in this area and, with melting snow and running water all around, progress was retarded. Pressing on through the slush past the “lagoon” and two north-flowing creeks, we climbed to the top of North Lake Saddle (3020’ - 9 1/6m. - 12.52 p.m.).

Depositing our loads and taking only the camera and a little food, we left at 1.2 p.m., intent upon giving effect to plans for¬mulated earlier in the day - the climbing of Mt. Picton. We followed the ridge we occupied uphill to the south through the dead pine and stunted alpine tree-growth to where it terminated at the base of the rock climb to Picton. Our route was steep but quite easy and the rock trig. of Picton was reached (4340’ – 10½m. 1.57 p.m.). We were lucky indeed to secure such fine weather for the ascent for, except for the east where haze was heavy, visibility was great. So many remarkable sights were available from the group of lakes at the southern foot to distinctive outlines of the many attractive mountain peaks around us, that it was impossible to describe what scene had most appeal. Naturally the camera came in for generous usage and, but for our old enemy “time”, our stay would have been much longer - but we were still a long way from Blake’s Hut, our chosen camp for the night. A compass check was made of the various highlights in the panorama as follows:
Adamson’s 133;
Esperance, 128;
Hartz, 121;
Wellington, 54;
east Pictons, 52-38;
Snowies, 5;
Weld, 349;
Wyld’s, 343;
High Rocky, 345;
Den¬isons, 338;
Anne, 328;
Mt. Hayes, 267;
West Portal, 250;
Ironbound, 188;
New River Lagoon, 178;
Bobs, 174;
Precipitous, 172;
Pinder, 163;
La Perouse, 156;
Federation and Mt. Hopetoun, 213;
McPartlan’s, 193;
Sth. Picton, 188.

At 2.37 p.m. the return from Picton was commenced and we were back to our packs on North Lake Saddle (3020’ – 12m.) at 3.10 p.m., resuming our journey home at 3.22 p.m.. We soon reached our camp-site at North Lake (2850’ – 12¼m. – 3.30 p.m.), crossing the creek below (12¾m. – 3.45 p.m., after which we entered the cutting grass and then the myrtle, negotiating the eccentricities of the route without trouble to leave the myrtles behind at "Red Rag Scarp" (2370’ – 14¼m. - 4.18 p.m.). Then on down the steep descent through the dogwood and mixed scrub we went, emerging at last at the top of Blake’s Opening (15¾m. - 5.4 p.m.), reaching the bottom of the Opening at 5.40 p.m. and then on through the ti-tree to Blake’s Hut (500’ – 17¼m. – 5.44 p.m.).

That night we dispensed with the tent and its restrictions and used the bracken mattress of Blake’s Hut for our bed, spending a fairly comfortable night. We feasted royally from the ample provisions we had carried or cachetted, realising that it was unnecessary to take much with us on the morrow as we had visions of hitting the car before nightfall. There was a slight shower overnight but the morning of Thursday, April 1st. broke fine and promising. Whilst the barometer had fallen considerably during the previous night, it had risen overnight this time.

With packs down to about 20 lbs., we left the bark "lean-to" at 6.25 a.m., passing through the small button grass clearing (1¼m. - 7.1 a.m.), crossing the “Big Creek” (400’ - 2m. - 7.20 a.m.) and having our first spell at the Riveaux camp-site (300’ – 3½m. - 8.6 a.m.). Resuming at 6.15 a.m., the pace decreased as this worst section of the "track" was negotiated and a fall found me tailing badly when our river-side camp of our first night out was reached (240’ – 4½m. - 8.51 a.m.). Here we discovered that the flood waters had washed most of our camp away and that the river had risen to about 18’ above its present level, which was still higher than when we had camped there. Our cached cake proved very ac¬ceptable for morning lunch, but the two tins of sardines we left for future use.

At 9.37 a.m. we were off again battling over and under the logs, having a few freshly fallen trees extra thrown in for good measure. Then our route came down to the river-shore again and the easier myrtle going was appreciated. Then came the bracken, the button grass and a little more scrub before Picton Bridge was surmounted (200’ – 6½m. - 10.19-10.21 a.m.). Wet scrub was next encountered before it was replaced by the bracken and ti-tree which accompanied us to Picton Hut (210’ – 8m. - 10.53-10.56 a.m.). Beyond the hut, the early ti-tree going was excellent, followed by a slight deterioration through the Picton Forest, after which the button grass appeared (10½m. - 11.58 a.m.). The high film of clouds which had remained overhead all morning was keeping the hot sunshine at bay and this was appreciated on this shadeless section. Rounding the Huon bend (11¼m. - 12.15 p.m.), the button grass continued on until the gum country was reached (14m. - 1.10 p.m.) and so on to Arve Hut (120’ – 14½m. - 1.21 p.m.).

We had dinner down by the Arve River, resuming at 1.57 p.m.. We scored a cup of tea at the Hydro camp at Frying Pan Creek (17m. - 3.6-3.11 p.m.), regaining the end of the road (18m. - 3.32 p.m.) and finally the car at Fletcher's (100’ – 20m. - 4.12 p.m.). A welcome change of clothes, the disposal of ten days’ beard and a light snack and a good wash made one a new man. At 5.13 p.m., we were off in the car, enjoying an uneventful journey back to Ron’s home at Davey St. (35m. - 6.30 p.m.). It was about 8 p.m. when I drove off from Hobart on my lonely ride home and, after the usual all-out battle against sleep over the last half of the journey, reached home about 11 p.m..

 

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