Precipitous Bluff Loop
(Mid December 2009)
Day 3

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Susan's Diary:

Pandani Knob to Tramp Camp
Wednesday 16 December
7:00 – 16:30

We got ourselves up at 5:00am for a 7:00am start, with Luca complaining about how he doesn’t agree with getting up at 5:00am on a holiday (a recurring theme). We were expecting the thick scrub to start after Pandani Knob, as well as the false leads, and we weren’t disappointed. Luca led and managed to avoid the false leads. The scrub was thick with lots of prickly scoparia, but was not too bad to start off with.
After an hour we reached Smiths Saddle and found water (from reasonable sized pools) and a serviceable tent site. We then continued onto Leaning Tea Tree Saddle, which involved a climb then a descent, which both weren’t too bad. We found lots of water there and Luca was concerned about how much we should carry as there wasn’t much reliable water between here and Low Camp (camp at the foot of PB). We had found the track to be quite wet so I said there should be water at Wylly Plateau – which Chapman describes as unreliable. After much convincing, Luca agreed not to make us carry 6 litres of water (we carried around 4).
The climb after Leaning Tea Tree Saddle seemed to have thicker, taller scrub which made each step upwards much harder as you need to lift yourself, your pack and punch through the thick stubborn bush that won’t let go. By the time we reached the hill above the Saddle we were pretty exhausted and fantasized about recovery food (Burgerlicious for Susan and giant kebabs/burritos for Luca). The track now climbed onto Mt Wylly and the scrub mercifully died down, making walking pretty easy. The track was a little harder to follow for a short while although the openness of the terrain meant you could see where you needed to get to. On the slopes of Mt. Wylly we came across good water trickling down the track and we had a drink there. This water is certainly not something that can be relied upon, as it must have surely been the result of recent rain (in our humble opinions). By this stage the day had warmed up but the strong westerly winds kept us relatively cool which was lucky as we were wearing our rain coats to assist in the scrub bashing. The track bypasses the top of Mt Wylly and it traverses the slopes near its top until you join the ridge that descends to Wylly plateau. The plateau is quite a beautiful spot. That gorgeous typical Tasmanian bright green grass covers much of it and there are great camping spots. We found a sheltered spot for lunch and Luca searched for any signs of water. There were a number of very small, shallow and stagnant pools of water. Definitely only a last resort. Although Chapman states that water is unreliable here, we were nonetheless surprised at how little water there was given how wet the other parts of the track had been. We ended up leaving with 6 litres anyway (we picked up another 2-3 litres of emergency water) as by this stage we were quite certain we wouldn’t make it past Tramp Camp.
It was 1:20pm by the time we headed off after lunch. We reached the hill after Wylly Plateau by 2:00pm and enjoyed the strong wind and awesome view of Precipitous Bluff ahead of us, as well as the constant presence of Prion Beach. The distance to Precipitous Bluff looked so short and relatively flat. It was amazing that it was going to take us so long to get there.
The next section up onto Kameruka Morraine across the broad saddle was probably my most, or second most, “hated” section of the walk. Chapman describes the track as “braiding” across the saddle, which is an accurate description, but nonetheless an inefficient route! The scrub wasn’t too thick so the inefficiency of the track was all the more frustrating (coming at the end of a long day and all). However at least the vegetation was completely different to anything we had encountered the previous days, with no or little Scoparia and some softer more delicate plants. There seemed to be 1 million different tracks across this closed-in and somewhat claustrophobic saddle, and care was required to stay on the ‘most likely’ of the tracks. Maybe they all lead out anyway!? Luckily we somehow managed to stay on the right track with only a few instances where we needed to be particularly careful. There’s certainly no point rushing through this section as its likely to lead to navigational errors.
Adding to the drama was that the wind wasn’t hitting us in the thick saddle, so it became increasingly hot and tiring. Luckily we came across (on the track) a very small water flow emerging from under the ground. Very close to this trickle of water was a spongy soak, which probably fed the water flow. Again, we certainly weren’t expecting to find any water here from our reading of this walk. This water was cold, clean and very refreshing. We stopped for a long drink and took the opportunity to tip out the dodgy Wylly Plateau water and replace it. That was a great feeling (especially for Luca). Not to mention that at this point we only had a short distance, and small ascent, to Tramp camp.
After our long water filling break, we needed 40 minutes to ascend onto the Morraine and find Tramp Camp. After shedding our jackets and shoes and relaxing for 5 minutes I noticed mist rising between Kameruka Morraine and Precipitous Bluff. Given the hot weather I was worried it may have been smoke, but it was the sign of the cool change coming. We quickly put up the tent and covered our gear before the rain came.
We cooked dinner inside the tent, disappointed we weren’t able to climb Precipitous Bluff before the weather changed, and exhausted from the day’s walk. So much for worrying about water!

Day 3 Walking Map

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