Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Great Expectations: Mount Anne Circuit, Part I


This is a story of expectations, mine of what this trip would be like, and others, of what I would be like. It begins in the small town of Triabunna. Doug and I were just back from a fabulous four day walking and sea kayaking trip around Maria Island. The inevitable weather window had closed again, the wind was blowing 25 to 30 knots and rain showers hung around the edges of the sky. The long Easter weekend (five days in Tasmania) would soon be upon us necessitating an escape from any where the infernal combustion engine could take people. The penultimate trip on my "premier trip list" for Tasmania was just over 100 km away and would take us into the mountains where only people willing to walk - almost always more tolerable to a couple of semi-hermits such as Doug and I- would go. 

On the ridge to Mount Eliza

Mount Anne (1423 metres) is the highest peak in Tasmania's massive Southwest National Park and also the first mountain of any size you reach as you travel south from Maydena. To the south, is the jagged crest of the Arthur Range, with its myriad peaks, tarns, cols and crests, while close to the west is the massive Lake Pedder, full, so rumours say, of drowned Huon Pine. The Mount Anne circuit is an iconic walk encompassing all that is classic in Tasmanian bushwalking - steep climbs and descents on tracks that are nothing more than a minor gash in tenacious forest where hundreds of hikers have pushed through, scrambling over piles of refrigerator sized boulders, generally slicked with rain and fog, tracks running with water across flooded plateaus where water squelches only to your ankles if you are lucky, and bogs, classic Tasmanian mud bogs that can suck the boots off your feet, perhaps even your feet from your legs. 

 Mount Anne

The forecast was less than ideal, cloudy with about 50% chance of showers on the first day, cloudy the second, and cloudy with 80% chance of rain on the last day. Like many walkers, we planned to camp at Shelf Camp, a tiny alpine plateau perched below dolerite columns and fully exposed to Tasmania's famous winds, on the first day. Weather permitting, we would climb Mount Anne on the way past, but, we would get one more chance the next day. Our second night would be at the Lonely Tarns after traversing the high jagged ridge that surrounds Lake Judd, and finally, on the last day, we would do our usual dash out to the road to try to beat the afternoon rain. 

 Shelf Camp
Doug B photo

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