Day 4 – Boots off again to cross Doubtful Creek – I took my camera for a swim

4, 5-10 December: Week 5, Thredbo to Kiandra with Mac Kirby on the AAWT – L/E. Week 5 with Mac Kirby and his through party on the Australian Alps Walking Track from Thredbo to Kiandra.

… or, walking with giants

Further Information

Another week on the AAWT, after Kiandra to Orroral Valley on 1-4 Oct 10. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever complete it.

Summary

Pre-amble 4 December: Distance: 14.6km | Climb: 700m | Time: 8.30am – 1.00pm (4hrs 30mins) | Grading: L/E; M(9)

Amble 5-10 December: Distance: 114.8km (plus a 19.2km bus ride!) | Climb: 3185m | Time: 5¼ days | Grading: M/M; M(10++)

Photographs

Pre-amble 4 December Photographs are available, where you can start a large sized slideshow.

Amble 5-10 December Photographs are available, where you can start a large sized slideshow.

Waypoint and Track Files

Download the .gpx file for the Pre-abble on 4 December and download the .gpx file for week 5 on the AAWT 5-10 December (Right click, Save Link As…, Save – if you want to use it.)
To use in Google Earth, do File, Open… and select Gps or All files as the File Type.

Track Notes

Pre-amble 4 December

Iris L kindly drove Peter C and myself up to Thredbo on Sunday 3 December, along with food for through walkers to collect for their 5th week of walking the 640km Australian Alps Walking Track across the roof of Australia. The weather and forecast was not good, part of a massive east coast rain dump. We met the 4 very damp through walkers along Friday Drive in Thredbo and, thanks to the generosity, membership and organisation of Peter C, pulled into the Brindabella Ski Club’s Waragun Lodge.

My first experience of lodge stay. Very impressive. I learned all about drying rooms for boots and clothing, clothes washing facilities (for through walkers to use), and communal living and staying in a lodge. Celebrations for Chris and Iris’s wedding anniversary.

We walked along and had dinner at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.

The Lodge pantry and leftovers area in the big fridges provided some extra tucker.

Whilst the through walkers enjoyed a well deserved break, I was itching for a little walk, so on Monday 4 Peter and I set of in the showers and mist (later rain and snow up higher) to walk up the Merritts Nature Trail. A delightful (and steep climb), with spectacular views to snow and ‘icebergs’ in Merritts Creek. Unfortunately no photos – see later 😳 . We called in at Eagles Nest at top station, but the coffee queue was too long.

Peter then walked me to the Dead Horse Gap Track turnoff from the Kosciuszko Walk and I continued along said Dead Horse Gap Track to the Gap. Absolutely no view to the Rams Head Range, a little snow on the way, a large school? group breaking camp and so down to near Dead Horse Gap. Here the Thredbo River Track took me down beside the raging river through the golf course and into the village. I now have a better understanding of the layout of the place. Bought a couple of supplies for lodge eating (and later) from the shop – Rye bread keeps fresh for at least 3 days!

Another pub meal. Chatted with two young ladies whom we’d seen setting off in the gloom towards Mt Kosci. They were ski patrol members who know Rowan P.

The little amble for me was 14.6km and 700m climb in 4hrs 30mins.

Amble 5-10 December

Day From-To Distance Climb
(from GE, so may be high)
 1  Thredbo Lodge to Chairlift, (Chairlift ride), Top Station to Charlotte Pass, (bus ride to Guthega), Through Guthega to Lodge  14.2 345
 2  Guthega to Valentine Hut 26.0 900
 3  Valentine Hut to O’Keeffes Hut 21.1 600
 4   O’Keeffes Hut to Happys Hut 27.0 700
5 Happys Hut to Four Mile Hut 19.2 500
6 Four Mile Hut to Kiandra  7.3 140
Total 114.8km 3185vm

Day 1 – Thredbo to Guthega

With a little fear and trepidation for me and others oozing confidence, we set off from the lodge at 8.30am and walked to the Ski lift station to purchase our one-way ticket to Top Station.  We lined up for the 9am first ride and were silently whisked to the top, up through the increasing mist.

We shook ourselves out and headed out along the iron path to Mt Kosciuszko. Although in shorts and gaiters, I had 6 layers on top – singlet, coloured t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, 2 mid-layers and shell. And gloves. I must say I was very comfortable in the chilly, showery weather. But lesson #1 – I need some waterproof mitts for over the warm gloves.

We soon realised that a Main Range/Rolling Ground route would not be possible, so planned to head for Seamans Hut to reconsider. A call in at the Rawson Pass toilets to have a spell out of the weather, then down Summit Road to Seamans Hut. It was full, with 18 students and 2 teachers from Penrith High School. Very politely and with “sirs”, they made room for us. We chatted with the teachers, who had pulled the group in from a very wet and snowy camp at Wilkinsons Creek the previous night. Anoffer of a lift in their bus from Charlotte Pass to Guthega, where Peter had another Brindabella Ski Lodge membership, was gratefully received. Out into the driving rain we walked down to Charlotte Pass, where we found the bus loaded with students and the front seats reserved for us. Such fortune; such manners!

A short walk from where the bus and trailer could turn around, through Guthega and to the Kyilla Lodge. Another late afternoon and evening of comfort after the power was turned on. Lovely views out the Lodge windows over Guthega Pondage to the Tate East Ridge.

Day 2 – Guthega to Valentine Hut

There was discussion of options the previous night, but our view of the weather on the Tate East Ridge precluded walking up the spur through Guthega trig and onto The Rolling Grounds. So we road bashed down the Guthega Road to Guthega Power Station. We met a couple there who were doing AAWT sections north to south – they had tales of linked arm hair-raising creek crossings which did not do anything for my confidence.

From there we climbed the Munyang-Geehi Road to the Surge Tank junction, then undulated along and left to Horse Camp Hut. We met another large school party who had also come down from the tops due to the weather. The next leg was along the aqueduct track to the weir on the Whites/Munyang River. Here the water disappears into the top of the aqueduct. We rejoined the Munyang-Geehi Road, walked past a misty Whites River Hut and up to Schlink Pass. No views west to Dicky Cooper Bogong or east to Gungartan, both of which we’d seen fleetingly on our walk up the Munyang valley.

Our lunch stop was at Schlink Hut (the Schlink Hilton). Rangers there reminded us to treat our water, due to the horses, pigs, deer and other ferals. I had old pills with me, but Mac gave me a sheet of new ones. Lesson #2 – upgrade and use water treatment. More options discussed, but we were able to keep to the through walkers’ schedule by pressing on to Valentine Hut.

So it was back to the Munyang-Geehi Road, then right onto Valentines Trail (ignoring the track to the met station). The first creek crossing was encouraging – a steel walkway! We passed through the top of Duck Creek and generally down to Valentine Hut. Cute – painted red and white with red hearts over the front window. Water from the raging Valentine Creek; Mac and Carl sawed and chopped wood and got the stove going for those who needed to dry boots and socks. A comfortable night inside; a wet and windy one outside.

Day 3 – Valentine Hut to O’Keeffes Hut

A day of many creek crossings, the first of Valentine Creek withing a couple of hundred metres of the hut. For most of us, it was boots and socks off, a wade, then dry off and reboot. We were very practiced by the end of the day and had very clean feet. We were able to cross the various creeks and rivers individually, with no need for linking arms. Walking poles certainly helped. On occasion we stripped off shorts/trousers, but that was all – so not too deep.

From Valentine Hut, the AAWT along Valentines Trail takes a curve to the north then SW. to cross the Geehi River, Straight Creek then Back Flat Creek several times. Great views back to the distant Main Range and Mt Kosciuszko and, closer to hand, the roaring Valentine Falls (unfortunately I have no photo). We regrouped at the junction of Valentines and Grey Mare Trails, By now the weather had cleared and we were enjoying blue sky with cloud puffs.

A long leg generally N-ish along Grey Mare Trail to the intersection with the Round Mountain Trail. Typical northern KNP walking – undulating, green grasses and nice wildflowers, but grey skeleton burnt trees on the hillsides. We passed snow gauging equipment as we crossed the low Strumbo Range.

Mt Jagungal drew ever closer as we walked north. A right turn, staying on Grey Mare Trail at the Round Mountain Trail junction and around the west side of the mighty Jagungal. Lunch on the trail at the Tumut River crossing, here just a small leap across. Then across the north of Mt Jagungal, past the met station and to O’Keeffes Hut.

A generous-sized hut with 3 rooms and the back door vestibule – and real chairs (better than last time I was here with Max)! Water from a nearby feeder to Hut Creek; a toilet. Another night to sleep in the hut, as weather threatened. The walls are papered with real 1940s newspapers.

Day 4 – O’Keeffes Hut to Happys Hut

From O’Keeffes, the AAWT along Grey Mare Trail took us to another foot washing in Bogong Creek, then to the junction with the Farm Ridge Trail. We went right, stopping for a quick look at the signage for the Farm Ridge site. Then east and down to cross Doubtful Creek.

Mac crossed first and warned us that the river stones were very slippery. That they were and, with the strong current, I slipped and took a quick swim. GPSr on my front survived but new camera did not and its dunking really took the edge off my enjoyment of the rest of the walk. I removed battery and SD card. (It took one more photo that night, then nothing. I was not only in fear of a wifely scolding, but also of the $600 insurance excess. However, happy ending and, a week later, the camera is taking good photos and videos.)

Another long day on the Grey Mare Trail, Several creek crossings. We passed Mackeys Hut, walked the crest of the Munyang Range past Crooks Racecourse, crossed Happy Jacks Road and came to the end of the Grey Mare Trail at its intersection with the Tolbar Fire Trail. Along this for a short bit, onto the Tabletop Mountain Trail and a left off this into Happy Hut. We got in at 4pm.

Continuing the hut hopping theme, we again slept in the hut. But it was a bit small, so I slept on the verandah. Tried my new emergency SOL bivvy bag, which was super, super warm but doesn’t breathe that well. No toilet. Water from a nearby stream to the NE. The night sky was absolutely incredible. Stars blazing; moon out later.

Day 5 – Happys Hut to Four Mile Hut

Chapman’s AAWT bible details a short off-track route to the N to rejoin the Tabletop Mountain Trail, but Michelle (who had camped at Happys last night) warned us that it would be very scrubby and slow going. So we took the 6km trail alternative. This was back out the way we came in, then a N then W loop on the Tabletop Mountain Trail to the Boltons Trail junction. Here we continued N on the Tabletop Mountain Trail, trending NW to flank Tabletop Mountin on its west and north sides. Took some photos with my phone. The day was getting warm and the flies enjoying our sticky faces. Only the occasional march fly.

The next junction could cause a little confusion. It’s marked Four Mile Trail on the ground and, heading for Four Mile Hut, one could be tempted to take it. It should be more correctly signposted Four Mile Hill Trail and it will get you to Broken Dam Hut. We stayed on the Tabletop Mountain Trail and continued on to Nine Mile Diggings. We had a look down into the area, then walked on to lunch at Nine Mile Creek. Ants.

Continuing north after lunch, we reached the second arm of Four Mile Creek and hand-railed it down off-track, through the diggings to Four Mile Hut.

My last night with this group of living legends. The hut was a welcome spot from the hot sun, but a bit dingy inside. Tents up for the first time this week. Water from the nearby Four Mile Creek running across the front of the site; toilet up the hill. A comfortable night’s sleep on the soft grass.

Day 6 – Four Mile Hut to Kiandra

A short day for Peter and me leaving the group at Kiandra. We’d arranged to meet Roger there at 10.30am. Easy walking up the track from Four Mile Hut back to join Tabletop Mountain Trail at the ‘gate’. Through the Selwyn ski trail signage, down Pollocks Gully to Wolgul Hut, where tents were dried from the morning’s dew.

We thought we saw Roger drive through around 9.30am and a text confirmed same. But, true geocacher that he is, he also had other things to do. He returned at exactly 10.30am, the through party restocked and Peter and I were whisked in air conditioned comfort back to Canberra.

Summary

A few lessons learned – get some waterproof over-mitts, carry water treatment tablets, take sun screen, restock my first aid kit, get good waterproof bags for my techno-gear.

My initial pack weight was 13.7kgm (without water on board), including 3.3kgm of dried food for 6 days.

I dips me lid a long, long way to Mac, Cynthia and Carl. I couldn’t walk the AAWT in one go. Mac is always super fit, an experienced long distance walker and calm leader. Cynthia is a walking machine and great facilitator. Carl from Queensland is a new Granddad and always happy.

Track Maps

Track Merritts, Dead Horse Gap and Thredbo River Tracks

Track overview Thredbo to Kiandra

Day 1 Thredbo to Guthega

Day 2 Guthega to Valentine Hut

Day 3 Valentine Hut to O’Keeffes Hut

Day 4 O’Keeffes Hut to Happys Hut

Day 5 Happys Hut to Four Mile Hut

Day 6 Four Mile Hut to Kiandra

Party

5 walkers – Cynthia B, Peter C, Mac K (leader), Carl T. me.

And much respect for other walkers who joined for harder weeks – Anita D, Chris L, Quentin M, Derek S.

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... bushwalking in the ACT and nearby NSW. I began my love affair with the ACT bush in 2004 after completing the Canberra Bushwalking Club's annual Navigation Refresher. Seven sessions of navigation and bushcraft shared by living legends had me hooked. It's grown from a passion to an obsession. With other responsibilities it's hard to get away overnight, so I usually only day walk. I like gadgets and technobabble. Information on this blog is shared in the hope that it might encourage others to get out and breathe a bit of fresh air.