Wards Bluff: 6-7 January 2023

An unexpected run of free days and some lovely weather proved to be a perfect recipe for some adventure scheming. A trail run to Frenchman’s Cap, some family time, a movie and board game with friends, some runs, a swim…the days filled up quickly. There was still time for a short bush walk for me too. Tim chose his least favourite from the list and then suggested I do it in cruisey fashion, instead of as a big day walk. I didn’t object and quickly realised it would give me time to do a few things I wanted to do for me, that would probably get pushed aside by other things if I was at home. 

Packing was easy enough, I’d barely unpacked from our aborted adventure and only had to tweak a few bits. I had time for a run with friends, a cooked breakfast with Tim and a spot of picking fruit and watering plants before I set off at midday. The plan was for an easy afternoon walk up the Raglan Range track from Cardigan flats and camp on the road where the ridge to Wards Bluff heads off in a southeasterly direction. 

It was hot, and only going to get hotter, with little guarantee of water once I started climbing onto the range. I loaded up with 6L of water, and drank an extra one just before leaving. I swapped my pants for shorts, taking a gamble that the overgrown track wouldn’t be as bad on bare knees as the heat would be without the extra ventilation. It was a wise move. 

I purposefully took my time, photographing many of the flowers I passed, including taking a video of me triggering a trigger plant. Em had shown me how they’d gained their name and I was very excited by it!! They literally have a trigger, designed to be set off by pollinators to increase pollination. Check out the video!

Triggering a Trigger plant

All the water I’d drunk also had me stopping to pee every 20 minutes (clearly well hydrated!) and in the end I also made myself stop when my heart rate climbed above 120. I knew the next day, out and back to Wards Bluff, was going to be hot and thirsty work in the scrub and I wanted to be as fresh as possible (given I was sore from a threshold run the day before and had already been for another run that morning!). Seeing I had time, I figured going slow was the best way to conserve both energy and water – I didn’t expect to find any extra on the range. 

The overgrown track did its best to slow me down further, but still I wasn’t very good at it. I arrived at the flat spot on the road where I wanted to camp in well under 2 hours and set up my tent, rehydrated dinner and let Tim know I was ok. I spent my afternoon and evening setting some goals for 2023, writing notes and reading. The time flew and I said a silent thanks to Tim for suggesting I take my time on this walk. I wondered if he knew I needed the me time?

My alarm went off at 5:30, but it didn’t wake me. Instead it stirred me from lying with my thoughts and got me sticking my head out the tent door to see what the sun was doing. I was surprised to find dew had settled on everything overnight and I donned beanie and jacket while eating breakfast on my rock. It had been a while since I’ve sat and watched the sun rise and it was a pretty one, low cloud in the valley rolled and swirled over the ridge leading to Wards bluff and Frenchman’s had just enough around it without obscuring too much. 

Eventually I dragged myself away, prepared my gear complete with 4L of water and set off. Even though the first kilometre or so of ridge has a very old vehicle track that runs along it, it’s largely overgrown and in some spots it’s not at all apparent that there was once a track there. You can imagine it didn’t take long before my pants were soaking wet, but I didn’t really mind. A few hours later they’d have dried and become almost as wet again, but this time from sweat. It was 6am and yet I could already feel the mugginess in the air, largely due to the fact there was barely a whisper of breeze. It was going to get hot. 

The first hour on the old vehicle track raced by and then things slowed way down. The track stopped and it was time to hit the scrub on a messy kind of ridge. I ran into old pink tape early on and quickly realised there was quite a lot of it. Unfortunately most was on the ground and the stuff on the trees wasn’t always helpful for direction finding, although it provided the usual moral boost that comes with knowing you’re following someone else’s steps. There was also a recent bash, probably from the Hobart Walking Club trip a month earlier, and between the two I managed to do only a small amount of new bashing as I moved slowly towards more open territory. 

By the time I popped out onto the button grass it had already warmed up. Sweat dripped off my nose. There was no evaporative cooling happening today. The ridge was so dry, the yabbie holes empty and sphagnum moss crunchy. I was delighted when I stumbled over a decent pool of water, which was usually part of a creek but now just an isolated rocky pool. I’d been cautiously sipping my water wanting it to last all day, but now that I knew it didn’t need to I drunk greedily. 

Up on the next bit of ridge I had unimpeded views in most directions and not a cloud in sight. The Christmas bells splashed red across the canvass. I had to pause to take it all in, despite being more open it was still too hard to walk and not pay attention to feet. Gradually I drew closer, some bits of ridge providing lovely walking, others more of a wade through stubborn scrub. The wombats were generally helpful, and more often than not they provided a perfectly placed pad through the thickest bits. 

The summit itself wasn’t the most impressive – a gently rounded bump covered in low scrub with a rock at the highest spot. I plonked myself down, pretty tired but only half way through the day. Food and water helped, as did a few messages. Then it was time to head all the way back, given sitting for longer would only increase my time in the sun. 

At least heading back was mostly downhill and I managed to pick a few better lines. I had to stop a few times to recharge my phone. I’d decided to use only it for navigation and it had been heavily relied on! It was probably just as well, I certainly enjoyed the time off my feet, sitting in shade and cooling down just a little. 

I arrived back at the tent exhausted, soaked and heart racing. It was clearly time to rehydrate, refuel and then decide what I did after that. I felt better after my third or forth round of electrolytes for the day, water and dinner and was tempted by the thought of chips, chocolate and my own bed, so I packed up and walked down the ridge. It took an hour despite my fatigue, such is the draw of salt and sugar after a big day! Needless to say the Derwent Bridge pub attendant thought I was nuts when I asked if they happened to sell ice creams! Worth a shot I thought…

All up:

Day 1: 4.5km, 1:47 hrs, 489m ascent

Day 2: 22.1km, 12:40 hrs, 948m ascent (including breaks, dinner and striking camp)

4 Replies to “Wards Bluff: 6-7 January 2023”

  1. Morning dew on the sun orchard is the prettiest picture! Thank you, I really loved your hike and the incredible flowering native plants were a treat to see. I was hiking in this area a week after you and it was still hot then. 4 snakes was my count; 3 tigers and my first whip!


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