MAYDAY AND STORMONT
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On Saturday, Nov. 3rd. 1962, I left Launceston at 5.15 a.m. as day was breaking and drove via the Bass Highway, Sheffield, Wilmot and the Middlesex Plains road to reach the junction of the Cradle Mt. road with the old Guildford stock track at 8 a.m. It was fine and clear at Launceston but clouds were accumulating along the way and there was a light sprinkle of rain as I set off on foot at 8.23 a.m. under an overcast sky along the old road formation towards Guildford.
Crunching light snow underfoot, I followed the old log fence for ¾ mile before the fence ended (8.39 a.m.). I was carrying a 3-day pack and hoped to explore the area around Mt. Mayday and beyond. The route was well marked and, though too boggy in places for cars, had been used extensively in season for four-wheel drive vehicles. At 1¼ miles I reached a small habitable hut on the right (8.48 a.m.), evidently much used during the summer. Heavy rain and a light snow suggested a respite in the hut from the wintry blast and an acquaintance with the interior made it obvious it would be a most welcome shelter in event of bad weather.
Resuming at 8.52 a.m. along the track, I passed through a gateway in a tree thicket (3m. - 9.36 a.m.) and soon after reached the track junction where Ted Innes' track to Tullah turned off on the left (3¼m - 9.42 a.m.). Taking the Innes track, which continued through open going, I re-entered the forest (3¾m. - 9.53 a.m.), emerging from it at an old campsite where I halted for lunch (4¾m. - 10.12 a.m.).
Underway again at 10.33 a.m. without my pack, the open going was broken when I crossed the Vale River by a log bridge (5¾m. - 10.55 a.m.). I followed the right side of the gully down, with showers still almost continuous, along with some hail, and arrived at a 3-man tent which was pitched but vacant (7¼m. - 11.32 a.m.).
I took shelter inside the tent for 20 min., after which I started ascending along the track which led around a high shoulder of Mt Mayday and culminated in its highest point at Innes' Point Stiff (8½m. - 12.20 p.m.). Here I forsook the track to climb Mt. Mayday and headed westward uphill through thickening snow. Farther up, I turned N.W. and eventually reached the cloud-capped summit where a large iron trig. was established (9½m. - 1 p.m.).
All I saw from the top (3747') was a glimpse of a forested gorge to the west. Three inches of snow lay around the upper area of the mountain, and the hail and drizzle did not invite a long stay, so I set off on my homeward journey at 1.5 p.m.. The poor visibility was circumvented by following my outward footsteps in the snow back onto the track (10½m. - 1.30 p.m.). Reaching the vacant tent as hail began again (11¾m. - 1.55 p.m.), I sheltered awhile.
Off again at 2.10 p.m., I retraced the track back to my lunch camp site (14¼m. - 3.35 p.m.), where I regained my rucksack, and pushed on back to the track junction (15¾m. - 3.43 p.m.). Then it was along the broader and much more worn old stock track to the hut (17¾m. - 4.25 p.m.). The comforts in the hut weighed against selecting a night in the car, but to make it fully effective I must perchance bring the radio and a few other comforts up from the car, now only 1¼ miles away. So it was off to the car packless and then back again to the hut (20¼m. - 5.10 p.m.) to get a good fire going and set about the business of cooking in a comfortable shelter.
Sunday, Nov. 4th. dawned overcast, but almost fine. The weather had banished any plans I had to explore the country beyond Mt. Mayday, so now I thought it opportune to turn my attention to Stormont, an alternative I had in mind when I set off. I left the hut at 8.27 a.m., reached the car, made a few adjustments therein and started it up at 9 a.m.. A guide to the Guildford track turnoff is that it is only 200-300 yds. past the CM8 mile post.
The morning was definitely warmer and there was no snow laying around anywhere. I drove back along the Cradle Mt. - Wilmot road, turning off on the left to pass through what was once Moina to stop near the Iris River bridge and have lunch. I set off packless at 11.55 a.m. on an old timber mill road which turns off on the left from the road about 50 yds. past the bridge. The road headed 210 deg, mag., whilst the mountain top showed at 170 deg. mag.. The old road ended at an abandoned millsite (¾m. - 12.10 p.m.) with the mountain top now showing at 173 deg..
From the millsite, I took a course slightly downhill over a tiny creek in thick manfern and then ascended around a slight rise to again descend and cross a small creek with a waterfall just as it was about to join a larger creek, which I also crossed. I then edged up a scrubby rise through bauera and cutting grass on a diagonal course. To avoid the scrub, I pushed up the ridge to encounter some button grass and low ti-tree amongst light gum and other scrub at 12.30 p.m.. After a while I worked out onto the crest of the ridge and I could then see the clear button grass ridge below me to the east, confirming that I was on the selected second ridge from its eastern end.
I continued uphill along the crest, exploiting animal pads until I encountered a cut track at 12.55 p.m.. I gleefully followed this up, marking it with rock cairns here and there as it was but roughly cleared, without blazes. and possibly three years old. The track eventually led me right up to the summit on which was a comparatively new, large wooden trig., obviously the purpose for the cut track (3047' - 3m. - 1.30 p.m.).
It had been hot work making the climb - so different from the previous
day. Today there was also a reasonable view available, although by no
means fully clear. A hurried magnetic check logged the following:
I left the summit at 2.10 p.m. and followed down the cut track, which was reasonably clear down to the large creek. I lost a few moments here finding its continuation and then crossed the small creek about 20-30 yds. above my outward crossing. I was back at the millsite at 3 p.m. and the car at 3.14 p.m.. The journey home to Launceston was uneventful.
I list the following directions for finding the cut track from the timber
mill site: Follow what is probably the main shoe track from the end of
the road. Its course is generally S.S.W., although the mountain is S.
The shoe track is covered with manfern and fallen debris, but formation
is generally still existent. Watch out for recently cut-off stakes (close
to ground) and broken manfern fronds. As the shoe track starts to climb
and swings farther to the west after about a ¼ mile or a little
more, look for the start of a branch track on its left. It is not as obvious
as the shoe track here, but is distinguishable by the recently low cut
stumps of the scrub and a blaze. Then follow it, watching for low cut
stumps and footpads.
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