Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ryder’s (or Campbell’s) yards overnight

This trip was planned in such away that it allowed those who worked Saturday mornings to participate, so departing work at 12.15 had us arriving at Mt Beauty 1.5 hours later. The rest of the group was ready and waiting so after quick introductions and chat about the planned starting point it was off to the Bogong High Plains.
To keep the distance achievable in a Saturday afternoon, I had decided to leave the cars in the car park at the horse yards just past the Pretty Valley hut, this would give us easy assess to Cope Saddle track and plenty of room to park the cars. We arrived at the car park about an hour after leaving Mt Beauty. The weather forecast was not as kind as my last visit to the high plains, with strong winds and rain predicted. We had not been let down, it was very windy and dark clouds were building in the North West. So donning wind proof jackets warm hats it was time to head off. The shortest path out to Ryder’s Yards is a mix of pole line through the snow grass and jeep track. The track heads generally south west which meant we had the wind to our backs making walking a bit more comfortable. Interestingly you could smell smoke in the wind from the DSE controlled burns some 30 km away in the Kiewa valley. Given the easy nature of the walk breaks were few and we quickly arrived at Cope Saddle hut. Whilst our camping spot was close it was a chance to catch our breath and for those who had not been out in this area before a look around. After the short break at Cope Saddle hut we followed the Cope West aqueduct around to the first track junction, taking this track quickly led us around the knoll to the Ryder’s yards access track.
The huts are spread out and allowed plenty of room for tents to be erected. Since my last camp out with the ID Sil-Shelter I had had a few practise runs at pitching it in the yard at home, so with that experience under my belt I pitched the ID including the “door pulley lock

Camp Site

After the tents went up we moved into the hut, once the fire was lit and the hut was full of people it was very comfortable. Dinner was cook and consumed amongst the chatter, which include the normal bushwalker topics of footwear, what are you eating, latest Ikea bargains and planning for future walks.
Gradually people headed off to bed, and with the fire made safe for the night, the last of us headed for our tents.

I checked the ropes and adjusted the peg locations on my shelter before climbing into bed, for this trip I was using my new Exped syn-mat UL 7M, this mat is a similar weight to my Therm-a-rest pro-lite 4 but is full length rather than the 3/4 of the Therm-a-rest.
It was not too long before the wind (which had not let up), was joined by showers of rain, some just a few spots others heavy down pours.
The shelter stayed up all night, I used 11 pegs (normally its 12 but I lost one in the dark) three of which are used by the door. For these conditions I could use a few more as the shelter did flap a fair bit, but it was still standing undamaged the next morning. The biggest problem I had was down the foot end of the shelter, it was taking the full force of the wind which was pushing in it and the rain was being force under the shelter and through the mesh of the matching bug inner onto my quilt. This was discovered early in the morning when I woke with cold feet. Luckily the large Nunatak quilt has plenty of length for me and since it was short time before I would get up I just moved “up” the quilt and waited (warmer) for “get out of bed time”

The morning provided the usual mix of high plains weather, foggy, raining, sunny all of which came with wind. The fire had been re-lite and slowly the other campers arrived in the hut for breakfast, coffee, and a chat about the weather. I had a few different plans for the return trip on Sunday, the options that fitted within the available time were, pick up the Australian Alpine Walking Track (AAWT) and loop around using the Fainters fire track to return to the cars, travel cross country keeping west of the Cope Saddle track for as long as the terrain allowed or take the shortest way home which was the way we had come the afternoon before.
I had been watching the weather and had become comfortable that it looked like staying clear so the plan was to take the AAWT option, well that was until we stepped outside the hut to leave, only to find it was raining again…. So that was the end of it, we would take the shortest way home. The walk back was into the wind, and rain so with rain jackets pulled tight, heads bowed we headed off. The return to the cars was completed with very few breaks and once back the gear was quickly stowed and we all departed for the Bakery.

Rugged Up!

The weather back in Mt Beauty was lovely, warm, and often sunny plus the bakery food was much better than my packed lunch!

Checking the Bureau of Met on my return, Falls Creek recorded wind gust up to 85kmh and 17mm of rain during Saturday night.

Just regarding the ID Sil Shelter.

The closing method for the door using the pulley arrangement worked well, whilst it was harder in the longer grass than at home on the mowed lawn it did pull the door shut and keep it there for the night.

There are plenty of peg/rope loops on the ID, with the strong wind and forecast rain I had added a line from the door that laps over the top to the peg that is inline with the pole on the side of the shelter. This line went diagonal from the ground across the under lap door to the loop half way between the top of the lap door and the peg at the bottom of the lap door. I use line locks for tensioning, and for the fun of it, had purchase the glow in the dark type. Well it was this glow in the dark line lock I could see glowing through the sli-nylon of the closed door, which when I woke up during the night to the sound of flapping sli-nylon I could see that the glow was in the same place as last time which meant the shelter had not moved despite the racket that was going on.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ryder’s (or Campbell’s) yards

This trip was simply to familiarize myself with the track to Ryder’s yards prior to a group walk in a few weeks time. Starting at Pretty Valley Hut the plan was to follow the pole line across to the Cope Saddle jeep track and then a mixture of pole line and jeep track to Cope Saddle hut. Whist the map showed a pole line heading off from Pretty Valley hut on the ground it was a different thing, there was one pole about 100m from the hut then a gap of around 400m to the next pole. Anyway it was a nice sunny day so I headed off in the direction of the distant pole. I had not gone very far before I realised that the whole area was very wet with a mixture of small creeks and bogs. Whilst I continue in this direction I amended my plan to use a different (dryer) route for the return trip.

Rock Bridge

The remainder of the trip to Cope Saddle hut was uneventful and followed either the jeep track or the pole line when it was shorter or easier walking than the hard rock on the jeep track. Cope Saddle hut (which is an old SEC hut) with it red roof slowly appeared in the distant. This hut sits at a five ways junction with the AAWT passing through, Cope East and West aqueduct track and Cope Saddle track which I had just walked down.

Cope Saddle appeared in the distance

So after a quick look around I headed off down Cope West Aqueduct, these track are easy walking and before long I came to a track junction. This is where became confused I had not expected to meet the turn of to Ryder’s yard so quickly and my GPS when over laid onto my paper map was telling me I was not at the turn off. So continuing south I walked over the small saddle to find a second track on my left. At this point a number of things click in my mind, firstly I remember a guide book talking about two tracks leading to Ryder’s yards, looking at the country I was about to walk into I felt I had passed the hut, and the GPS still did not line up well with the map. So with the felling I was now on the right track I headed east on the intersecting track an a few minutes later I was at the turn off to Ryder’s yards. Arriving at the collection of three huts and one out building I stopped to enjoy my lunch on a very pleasant autumn day.

Larger two huts

The return trip was much less event full. I used the well trodden path made by the horse to get back to the car rather than the area of bogs and creeks. Once home I check my other Bogong maps both of them show the two turn offs to Ryder’s yards whilst the newer map showed only one, no wonder I had trouble…