matty's tasmanian adventures - index
Mt Anne Circuit - North-East Ridge to Red Tape Creek
Do a Mt Anne circuit, starting from Sandfly Creek, North-East Ridge to Mt Anne then continue around the regular circuit to finish at Red Tape Creek where I ride my bike (left before starting the walk) 20km ish back to the car.
I left home near Hobart at 1.30am for the drive to Scotts Peak Dam Rd next to Lake Pedder. I left this early because I know that I regularly plan a big adventure but then sleep in and don't bother or run out of time.
By the time I reached Scotts Peak Dam Rd, I was really struggling to stay awake. I stopped at the car park for the North East Ridge route and quickly went to sleep in the driver's seat (reclined with my doona and a pillow). I set my alarm for 5.30am but my body wasn't ready to get up until 6.15am.
In the morning I drove down the 20km to Red Tape Creek to leave my bike so I could get back to the car. I locked it to a tree hidden in the scrub. There was already another bike locked up nearby. I drove back to Sandfly Creek and headed off. It was sunny and almost totally clear and already warm when I started at 7.30am. The first 50 metres of the track is dense and sloppy - which I think Parks love because it discourages some people from continuing when the start is really hard or messy. This is one of the lesser used track that Parks don't encourage because the plains are easily eroded & Pandani Shelf is fragile and if more people used it, Parks would either need to maintain it or it would be ruined/degraded.
The view from the car up to Mt Anne & North-East Ridge just before starting
The initial track is more of a route than a track and it is hard work. The track up Mt Eliza is easier and clearer and goes past a hut, but I wanted to go via the North-East Ridge for some different photos. When visiting this area, I am very conscious of looking after the alpine vegetation.
The start involves a walk across the plain and it was more dense than my last trip 18 months ago. I had to look carefully to stay on the track all the time. My left knee was a bit sore before starting the walk. It felt similar to the feeling when I had a torn medial meniscus. I was walking with poles which was helping me to remain stable on the rough, boggy ground - but I had to concentrate and took it a bit slower to step deliberately to avoid another injury.
I think it was about 1½ hrs to the main river/creek crossing on the plain that you usually have to wade. The water level in the creek was very low. I drank a litre as I sat there and then refilled the bottle. I left the creek with 2 litres of water for the climb.
The crossing of Sandfly Creek - very low level
After crossing more button grass plain and dense scrub, I entered the forest. It was very dry compared to my 2 previous visits to the North-East Ridge. There were also a lot more fallen trees than my previous visits and it was slow going. By the end of that day I realised that I didn't drink enough on the climb either as I had a throbbing dehydration headache.
On the way up in the forest, the creek that 'runs' alongside on the right was totally dry. I followed next to the creek and eventually found a small pool of 'not flowing' water in the otherwise dry creek bed and I had a good drink and topped up my bottles again.
The climb up the hill took forever. I would walk a few steps and then rest. My pack was 26kg with 2kg of water which is about average for my solo walks - but not light. Carrying a heavy pack is just one of the things you may have to put up with when solo walking when you can't share the gear like tents & stoves etc.
As I climbed I was eagerly awaiting the first signs of alpine vegetation as a hint that I was close to the ridge top. It was nice to see King Billy Pine needles under foot, then Pandani and finally just before the top - Scoparia appeared. As you leave the forest and get onto North-East Ridge, the circuit heads right along the ridge but to the left are many sinkholes & caves. Anne-A-Kananda cave (375m deep) is only a short distance to the left in this area. It is an eerie sight on looking down into the sinkhole at the top of the big cave.
Back on the ridge top, I phoned my Dad (telstra next g signal). He was getting insulation installed at his house which required the roof tin to be removed and also had to pick my Mum up from the airport (returning from Sydney) and was having a busy day. I reached my regular camp site on the ridge where there is room for 1 tent. This is just before a steep up-slope then a steep climb/scramble where the one route along the ridgeline climbs about 50m. I decided to keep going down to Pandani Shelf to camp on the rocky platforms and find a route from there up onto the ridge the next morning.
Just out of the forest onto North-East Ridge
From North-East Ridge to Mt Anne, Mt Lot & Lots Wife
I was camping in a poled bivvy bag to keep the pack weight down and I set it up on the flat hard ground past the amazing cushion plants - at 2.30pm. There were some still ponds nearby but no flowing creeks. It was generally very dry. I spent the rest of the afternoon scouting a route up the ridge with the advantage of doing it without my pack. I found a route that was reasonably clear all the way up to the top of the ridge, close to the point where the north-east ridge meets Mt Anne.
Pandani Shelf to Mt Anne
same ... but with a Tasmanian Waratah in the shot...
The afternoon was sunny and mid 20°C with a very light breeze. I was too tired to cook a meal so I had a food bar and climbed into my sleeping bag at roughly 6pm to catch up on the sleep that I missed by driving to the start of the walk during the night. I set my alarm for 5.30am to hopefully get some sunrise on Mt Anne photos.
After a very solid nights sleep I woke at 5.30am and it took a while to get warmly dressed in the cramped bivvy bag. It was very chilly outside & I struggled out at 5.45am. My reason for only bringing a bivvy bag was the compact, light size which means if you can't find a campsite you can set it up along the track. It will also easily fit down amongst bushes to shelter from the wind. The downsides are obvious that it is small and cramped and you can't sit up inside it. When doing short solo trips where I have to climb steep mountains, I tried to reduce the pack weight and so the tent had to stay at home. I feel I can cope with a cramped bivvy bag for a few nights to save 2kg on my back.
dawn from Pandani Shelf - poking the camera out of my bivvy bag
Morning view of Mt Anne from Pandani Shelf
Anyway... I struggled out of the bivvy bag, and took a few photos of the morning sun on Mt Anne on a perfectly clear, crisp morning. I packed and started walking by 6.45am. The previous afternoon's route scouting paid off, as I followed that direction up onto the ridge from behind where I camped. It was a bit more of a struggle with the full pack but it only took 20 minutes of slow plodding and scrambling up the hill.
On the ridge the weather was perfectly clear, with a very light breeze. Where I appeared on the ridge it was only a very short distance to the end of North-East Ridge where you head around the western side of the peak of Mt Anne - following the regular cairns (when they aren't covered by snow). Near the start of the route as you leave the ridge there was one scramble where you climb up a bank of a few metres. I have previously seen people pass packs up here when it was icy but it was ok today.
nearly at the end of North-East Ridge before skirting around Mt Anne
The walk around Mt Anne was uneventful and easy going as I rock hopped, skirting around the western side of Mt Anne looking down over Lake Pedder and across to many ranges - Wilmot, Frankland and beyond.
From the Mt Anne end of N/E Ridge to the Sandfly Creek plains - red dot is the walk start
By 8.30am I had reached the start of the regular climb of Mt Anne and stopped for a drink and snack. The regular gully where you climb up was very icy and I decided not to climb up. I have climbed up many times before so I wasn't disappointed. I continued around to the start of the circuit track that leads down to the Shelf Camp. There was no-one around but I found a tube of sunscreen on a rock which I picked up thinking I might find the owner as I camped that night. The water at shelf camp was in a couple of non-flowing pools. I topped up my bottles again.
Shelf Camp to Mt Anne
Ahead in the 'notch direction' to the west I saw 2 figures sitting for a rest. I continued and caught up to them just as they were starting to walk again. There names were Mark & Sophie and came from the north of the state. We kept heading towards the Notch, following the cairns. I was nervous about the Notch as I had read lots of stories about it's difficulty.
When I first saw it I was stunned at how steep it was on either side down off the ridge. It looked like we had to continue along the direction of the track, but I remembered in the 'Chapman notes' that said 'climb up and across until you are directly above the saddle before climbing down into the Notch.
After climbing up to this position I was still very nervous but happy to have found some other walkers. They headed down the scramble into the Notch ahead of me and I was very relieved that it wasn't too bad. For the climb down, I kept my pack on and coped alright. The conditions were dry and there was no snow or ice here - which would complicate things.
When we were all down in the saddle of the Notch, I got my pack-hauling rope out because the climb up looked a bit trickier. Mark, who was the tallest, climbed up first and identified the good hand and foot holds. Mark pulled up Sophie's pack and then pulled mine up which must have been very unpleasant as it wasn't light. (Thanks Mark)
1. from the bottom in the Notch looking
at the climb out on the Mt Lot side
2. from the bottom in the Notch towards Lots Wife
3. bottom of the Notch towards the Lake Judd side
4. out of the Notch - Mark is still at the spot where he pack hauled in #1
Sophie climbed up ok with the only tricky spot being near the top as you climb up over a ledge which sloped away and was very exposed. I thought that this would be very hard in the wet or in snow or ice.
Once we were up, there were a few more scrambles on the way to Mt Lot. We had lunch on Mt Lot with awesome views to Mt Anne and Pandani Shelf and also down Lightning Ridge with Lake Judd on the right and Judds Charm over the left side of the jagged, steep Lightning Ridge.
just before heading down Lightning Ridge
from left - Lake Picone/Judds Charm, Lightning Ridge & Lake Judd
Looking down Lightning Ridge was an awesome sight. It was very steep down with sheep drop-offs on each side. I headed off first and went down at being very careful and deliberate, climbing down backwards for most of it because it was less hard on my tired knees. As I slowly worked my way down the ridge, I was wary of 'false-lead' tracks to my left which were detailed in the 'Chapman notes'.
I passed one false-lead and continued ahead on the correct track along Lightning Ridge. When I reached the second spot where the track went down off the ridge to the left, I wasn't sure if this was the track down or not. I headed down a short distance into the rainforest and then stopped. I was on a well worn track but I took my pack off and headed back up onto the ridge to make sure that the track didn't continue along the ridge. I scrambled further along the ridge and found that it wasn't it was only a tiny pad compared to a very well-worn track down the hill so I returned to my pack and headed down.
I headed down off the ridge and it was initially a steep forest scramble and was pleased when the track turned to the south-east as it was supposed to. There were about 3 turn-offs to the left which I ignored (as the notes said to) as I stuck to the 'keep to the right' options when there was a choice. There was one spot where the 'right option' had a stick across it so I ignored that one. You have to pay attention at any choice of tracks & trust when there are a few sticks placed sideways - often lying on the ground - that this is a hint that it is a false lead.
I eventually broke free of the forest to a boggy plain and it was only a short walk to the ridge south of Lake Picone and Judds Charm. The campsite was just south of the crossing of the outflow creek from the lake. I put up my bivvy in the campsite and unpacked my gear. It was still fine and warm so I had a swim in Judds Charm and was joined by Mark and Sophie soon after. It was very 'refreshing' after a hard walk. After cooking a freeze-dried meal I went to sleep early again.
I got up at 6am at Judds Charm. The weather was overcast and blowing a gale. I hadn't felt the wind at all during the night because my bivvy was in a sheltered spot and low enough not to catch the wind. I packed up and had a good drink and left at 7am with my waterproof coat on to protect me from the very strong wind.
From Judds Charm there was a climb up 150m elevation then down again past another un-named small lake/big pond. The wind was a so strong it was hard to stand up. I felt protected from it in my jacket with the hood up but I was blown over a couple of times. I had to concentrate on following the track/route as it became faint in places. It helped most by looking at the main features on the map to have a general idea of where track went because there were lots of false leads that you could follow if you weren't paying attention.
Mt Sarah Jane quickly became the main feature that I approached and then passed. I wanted to climb it but the wind made it so unpleasant that I was more keen to get down off the plateau and into the shelter of the forest. Once I was past the track up Mt Sarah Jane, it wasn't far to the edge of the plateau where a track headed down.
View as I was about to head back down off the plateau towards the end of Lake Judd
This was pretty scrambly and I had to tread carefully to prevent knee & ankle problems. It was initially waist high scoparia at the top at 1100m - and then turned into the forest lower down at 650m asl. In the forest it was also obvious that in wet conditions the track would also be a winding mess of creeks where you walked/waded along in knee deep water.
Eventually the forest opened up to a button-grass plain that was very boggy and the Anne River appeared on my right coming out of Lake Judd. The track then seemed to turn across the Anne River and I walked across, taking the opportunity to cool my weary feet and wash the thigh high mud off.
After crossing the river I checked the map and found that I shouldn't have crossed it and I waded back over and found that the track continued in a south-westerly direction moving away from the river across the bog.
I was very weary and had to force myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other (due to the 26kg pack). It was a relief when the track left the bog and skirted around the contours of a hill. In one spot on the side of a hill there was a raised wooden board area over a gully. I was tired and wobbly and as I walked across the boards and a very stiff branch on the left 'sprung me' so that my right foot slipped off the edge and I scraped down the inside of my right leg and hit my bottom hard on the boards before falling off and down a few metres into the dense scrub and creek below, unable to stop the momentum of the heavy pack.
I was wedged tightly with my right leg down in the creek and scrub and my left leg up high. It took a bit of wriggling to undo my pack and compose myself before scrambling out of the scrub to the track again. This carelessness wasted a lot of energy that I didn't want to expend on falling into a gully. In my tired state it seemed to take forever to reach the bridge crossing of the Anne River and then forever as you wind your way around the contours of the hills to get to the end of the track. I was hearing cars long before I reached the end. I let out a very relieved & weary cheer as I reached the road.
It felt brilliant to get my pack off and I recovered my bike from the scrub again. I had left some sandshoes and a bike helmet as well (in case I was run off the road by an inattentive driver). After a good drink I headed off on the 20km ride to the car. Even though I was very weary, this was using different muscles and wasn't too bad.
After about 10 minutes of riding a loud squeak of wearing metal started from the bottom bracket on the bike. There was nothing I could do about it so I just had to listen to the sound for the 20km ride. I had a short break half-way at the car park for the Mt Eliza route and another good drink from Condominium Creek. The mozzies at Condominium Creek are savage.
It was a brilliant feeling to get to my car and sit down on a comfy seat. I had left a snack and a bottle of coke under the seat to stay cool, and they were magnificent. I then drove back to get my pack from the end of the walk and then had a quick dip/wash in Lake Pedder near Edgar Dam before driving home. It had been a brilliant trip with fantastic scenery. As hard as it was, I was really rewarded with the scenery of the area.
By the end my injured knee didn't hurt any more - but generally everything was stuffed.
Things I didn't get to that I will next time:
Mt Sarah Jane
visit Lake Judd