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”
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.
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.