Saturday, February 25: Rain overnight & in the morning, easing to drizzle by midday and becoming fine but cloudy in the evening
Tramping: 8.8 km
Loch Maree Hut (Doc)
In the absence of anyone else to disturb me I slept through until 8:30, packed my stuff together and waited to see how the day would progress. As it was a bit cold I decided that a fire would be in order, so I lit the pile of rubbish that had collected in the potbelly stove, emptied the ash drawer and in a short while the stove was fairly clear so I put a pan of water on it to have some warm water for washing if I was able to convince myself to stay.
Around midday an unexpected group turned up – two couples and one other guy, who were soaked to the skin and needed the rest of the day to dry off. I had collected some firewood (mainly kindling) and had put some wet firewood by the fire for drying. Had lunch of three muesli bars & half of the rest of the sultanas. The rain seemed to stop so I took this as a message to get on the track. One of the guys had found Jack’s Raybans so he gave them on to me & I moved off at 1:00.
The track across the alpine plains was entirely fog-bound. About an hour into the trek I ran into two guys who had been on the track since 8:00 and were relieved to know that they only had an hour to go. Once I lost my way and had to backtrack, and then the track was clear. One break for hydration and by 4:00 I was down at the tree line.
The descent from now on was in about three parts – the first (from my point of view) was the most demanding in terms of slope, including one chain that I couldn’t use because I was unable to grip with my full weight attached. This was followed by two further sections which were becoming more and more slippery as I continued. A waterfall was becoming more audible and at one point a tomtit flitted about at arm’s length – if only I could have taken my camera out he would have been gone in an instant. Towards the end a view of Dusky Sound with clouds and distant mountains, but not enough contrast to make a photo at all, and the camera remained packed away.
Another five minutes climb were needed to reach the hut – already occupied by eight Brisbaners (as far as I could catch the names: Tim, two Chrises, Hector, Nigel, and Tony – up to now all males, and one of their daughters, Sarah). Maximum sandfly density here, and I had to pick my way through the whole mess that these guys had produced to get out of my wet stuff, boil some water, and try to get a meal going. Note for oxo cubes – these have to be crumbled when adding to water. In any case the spaghetti is now finished, from tomorrow it’ll be rice.
One gent’s (Tim) stove had exploded before my arrival and he had burned his leg. The question was whether to trigger a spot or PLB alert. I explained to the guy with the spot what the help button was for and what was necessary to trigger it. It is either that or the full PLB. They will decide tomorrow.