Du Cane Range
Justin (a friend who I met in my guiding life) and I arrived at Lake St Clair around 8:00am in preparation for our 9:00am ferry up the lake to begin our adventure around the Pine Valley/Labyrinth area. We had a coffee to kill the time and before long we were hooning up the lake. We arrived at Narcissus at 10:00am (the ferry incorporated a scenic tour, so it was a longer ride than usual) and hot footed it north along the Overland Track. An hour later we were at the junction to Pine Valley and stopped for our first rest break. It is worth mentioning that I had never been to Pine Valley before, so I was very excited! New territory. We were soon walking up the track, through beautiful stands of ancient King Billy Pines and Myrtles. The walk up to the hut was stunning, especially as the hut is reached and the Cephissus Creek meanders it's way through the valley floor. A smidge after midday we were setting up our tents on the tent platforms and then went down to the heli-pad to enjoy lunch in the sun.
Around 1:30pm we packed a day-pack and headed up the well trodden path towards the first Abel of the trip; The Acropolis. Making our way steeply up through rainforest, we suddenly emerged on the high and open ridge to the south of the peak, with stunning views looking up at it. The path made straight for it and a short time later we were clambering over the boulders beneath the cliff line. The final push to the summit was steep, but short and sweet. And we were rewarded with wonderful views! The mountains around the Labyrinth were all calling for attention, and a great feeling of excitement filled me for what the rest of the walk would hold. After a while on the summit, we headed back to camp, stopping on the way back at the beautiful Cephissus Falls. We were at camp by around 5pm, and decided to go cook dinner on the heli-pad under the watchful eyes of The Minotaur and Mt Gould.
|On the shore near Echo Point.|
|We gonna climb them.|
|Woo! Parts unknown!|
|Justin strutting onward.|
|Rainforest is so green.|
|On the summit, surrounded by mountains.|
Strong coffee and thick porridge was the fare of the morning before we packed up and left Pine Valley at 8:30am. We took the track that heads up towards The Labyrinth for a while, until we reached the ridge that leads south to The Minotaur. From that point we followed a very good cairned track over a small knoll and then up over the axe wielding bull-man. Mt Gould was so close we could almost touch it, but we left it for the return trip the next day. From The Minotaur, we headed west towards The Guardians, and a little over an hour later we arrived at the beautiful lake situated just beneath the summit. We set up camp here and had some lunch, before making for the summit of The Guardians, only a casual 5 minutes away. The high point was pleasant, but we had bigger fish to fry and headed to the southern cliff line of the Abel to assess our approach to it's nearby neighbor, Horizontal Hill.
We found two chutes in the cliff line that looked to offer a good descent to the scree below. After a little while of route finding we chose the westerly one (slightly less vertical and more vegetated) and were soon in the scrub below The Guardians and heading to the saddle between it and Horizontal. With no great lines, we more or less made straight for the summit, and after a bit over an hour and a half from the cliff line of The Guardians, we were sitting atop Horizontal Hill. The view to nearby Mt Manfred (my 100th Abel) was great, and we spent close to half an hour on top before bashing our way back to camp in a similar time frame. We had a refreshing swim and then spent the evening looking towards the Du Cane Range being lit up by the setting sun.
|Walking up the Lake Elysia track.|
|Mr G. Hopper.|
|A view to The Guardians.|
|Off track good times.|
|Looking to our camp and Mt Gould from The Guardians' summit.|
|Looking to Horizontal Hill...|
|Beneath the cliff line!|
|On the summit of the Hill, looking at the way we came.|
|I built a summit cairn!|
|Our evening viewing.|
|Good place for dinner, hey?|
Another stunning sunrise on another beautiful day. We packed up set off at 8:30am back the way we had come the day before. After an hour of walking we dropped our packs and headed for the small saddle between The Minotaur and Mt Gould, with the latter being the first goal of the day. We followed a decent path through the saddle and then sidled around the western flank to a scree filled chute taking us straight up! Once at the top of that chute it was a few minutes to the summit, only 30 minutes from the packs. The view was divine, and I could think of no better place to be on a Sunday morning. After some summit time we went back to the packs and continued back along the path down The Minotaur. Once we were back on the main track into the Labyrinth our pace picked up and we hooned deep into the maze of lakes, pines, and mountains. We arrived at Cyane Lake at around 12:30pm, perfect timing to stop for lunch. We relaxed in the sun for close to an hour before heading further along the track, passing the only other person we saw up there (and he knew of me from the paper)! We soon reached Lake Elysia and took the obligatorily photo of Mt Geryon before strolling onward.
By around 3:00pm we were on the broad open area just to the west of the Du Cane high point, looking to our next objective; Mt Hyperion. We left our packs here because we knew we wanted to camp right on top of the Du Cane range instead of near the beautiful Lake Helios (another time...). The next 45 minutes were spent getting to the base of, and then scrambling up Mt Hyperion. I have to say, an instant favourite! The final push up Hyperion is vertical, airy, and a few fun climby moves that really make for a feeling of mountain climbing! And what a view! The vast open valley behind Mt Ossa was amazing, and the drop down to Lake Helios was stunning. We spent some time on the summit (and made a phone call to Lake St Clair to book our return ferry) and then headed back to the packs. It was a short stroll up onto the Du Cane range, and we found a spot beneath the summit to spend the night. We were treated with another wonderful sunset to top off a great day!
|This was the view from the loo.|
|Going up Gould and looking up Pine Valley.|
|Summit flag of Mt Gould.|
|Mmm.. So pretty!|
|On the summit of Hyperion!|
|Das setting sun.|
With a view of the sun rising on Mt Ossa from my tent, I greeted day four of this adventure. Once again, we left at 8:30am and strolled 5 minutes to the first Abel of the day, the Du Cane high point! We didn't linger too long there, as we wanted to check out Mt Geryon North too. With a day pack we walked over to the cliffs near the iconic peak and yelled our good morning greetings to those camping at Windy Ridge, well below us in the valley. By 9:30am we had our packs back on and were descending into Big Gun Pass on our way around the Du Cane Traverse. A well cairned route made for good going, and we passed time solving riddles. By 11:00am we had come around the back side of Mt Massif onto the tarn studded plateau. We left the packs near a good tarn and made for the summit which was only 10 minutes away. Dodging the many cushion plants made for the most challenging aspect of this Abel. The view was good, but not as exciting as I felt like it would be. Looking further along the range to Castle Crag got us excited though, and we headed back to the packs for an early lunch.
After some food we headed off. The cairns were fewer than before, and we did start our traverse in a bad place. Some large cliffs meant we had to back track a small amount, and then decided to drop off the ridge to the smaller scree some 50m below. This made for easier going until we reached a small saddle on the range where we once again picked up a cairned route. We followed this on the north side of the ridge, with great views down to Kia Ora and up into Lee's Paddocks. The final push up onto Castle Crag was easier, and we made it to the summit around 4:00pm. I personally really enjoyed being on this mountain, and was pretty excited to see what the drop down to the Overland would be like. After a bit of time on top we headed for a suitable spot to descend to Du Cane Gap. A few tell-tale signs of use was good enough for us and we headed down at a good pace. The open nature of the scree made for easy navigation, and when we hit the scrub line it wasn't too hard to keep our bearing straight. We found occasional signs of foot traffic, but nothing path like. I took a fall on the descent and hurt my right hand, fearing it possibly broken (it is getting better though). We were back on the Overland at 5:30pm! We were both pretty tired, but the temptation of getting to Narcissus that night was too strong and we hot-footed it to the end of the Overland. We arrived just on 8:00pm, and jumped in the river to wash off a big day of sweat. There was no camping space left, and the hut had several people in it, so we opted to sleep on the veranda. I gazed at the stars until I fell asleep.
|Mt Ossa in the morning.|
|The Du Cane high point.|
|Mt Geryon. One day I will traverse you!|
|Big Gun Pass.|
|Anything can be a track marker...|
|Mt Massif is massive.|
|Lunch o'clock tarn.|
|Summit view from Mt Massif.|
|Looking towards Castle Crag.|
|Kia ora, Kia Ora!|
|Castle Crag summit view.|
|Our descent to the Overland.|
|Back in familiar territory!|
After a very peaceful night sleep, we spent the first few hours of the day enjoying the remainder of our coffee while talking with other walkers who were also at Narcissus. We caught the 9:30am ferry back to Cynthia Bay and headed straight to the Hungry Wombat Cafe to feed our hungry faces! It was a fantastic way to finish a completely successful trip!