11 July 2005 11 Jul Mt Rufus Circuit with snowshoes, Tasmania Photos
Maps: Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair 1:100000; Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks by John Chapman and John Siseman
Days 1-8 - 3-10 July. The Overland Track, including side trips to Waterfall Valley, Mt Ossa and Pine Valley to The Labyrinth and The Acropolis


Day 9 - 11 July.  Mt Rufus Circuit with snowshoes

We were up at 6.45am and enjoyed our continental breakfast which we brought back on a tray last night, as breakfast wasn't available in the dining room till 8am.  A toaster and electric jug beats a fuel stove any time.  Dry socks and boots were a pleasure to pull on and the leftovers from breakfast were added to our lunches.  We were ready to go by 8am, with daypack and snowshoes and poles at the ready.  The previous night we'd met Tony in the bar and he agreed to transport us to Cynthia Bay for $5 a head.  He was right on time.

After signing the day walk register, we left Cynthia Bay at 8.30am, first walking northwest along the beach to Fergy's Paddock campsite, then joining the Mt Rufus Circuit track for a clockwise spin.

The track to the mountain was typical of other climbs, passing through rain forest and more open, sub-alpine areas.  But each has its own particular beauty and anticipation of what was to come.  Today it was obvious that we'd find more snow, the weather forecast promising it and the view of the Mt Rufus ridge, as we climbed closer and closer, showing it.  The wind and snow were bitter as we climbed onto the ridge at 11am into 20-30cm of snow.

We geared up and started to walk.  Pretty easy and no skill required but, boy, was it cold!  Clear at first, then the cloud came down and wind driven, icy snow lashed us.  A couple of times we could not see forward to the next snow pole and the navigation was a little tricky at times.  Two long ridges gave us around 2km of snowshoeing to the Mt Rufus cairn (1416m), which we reached at 12.45pm.

At the start of the northeast down leg we removed our shoes and popped on waterproof longs.  Down through a uniquely shaped rock pass and soon out of the fierce wind.  Lessening snow as the track followed a beautiful creek valley down, the creek at times underground.  Lunch around 2pm.  I tried to recognise the area where, as a 14 year old Boy Scout, we'd been washed off the side of the mountain but, "they must have re-routed the track" (or else my memory is fading).

By 3pm we were traversing an open plain with several tarns and at 3.20pm we reached Shadow Lake.  3.35pm we had a 5 minute afternoon tea, as it was still 2 hours to Cynthia Bay and Tony (our taxi) was leaving at 4.15pm (we knew that did not compute).  Around 4.30pm we were walking the track beside the Hugel River and at 4.40pm we'd reached Watersmeet.  5pm saw us back at Cynthia Bay and there was no option but to walk the 5km road to the Derwent Bridge Hotel.  6.15pm saw us there, me looking forward to a repeat of the previous evening's meal.

A shower, change of clothes, a schooner of Boags draught, a shared bottle of McWilliams Mt Pleasant 1999 Shiraz (well aged from the previous millennium) and an excellent grilled salmon steak helped me sleep well.

Distance: 23km  Climb: 680m.

25 Fairy floss lichen
26 John at Mt Rufus cairn
27 Watersmeet


Day 10 - 12 July.  Travelling - mountains to the sea