Bradys Sugarloaf: 20 September 2014

Bradys Sugarloaf GPS route

Bradys Sugarloaf GPS route

This was one of my club walks. I’d chosen it about three months prior (when writing my submissions for the program) because it was short, nearby (relatively!) and not one that I thought a bit of adverse weather would affect too much (the views were reported to be minimal on a clear day at best). I’d also put it down because it was one I wanted to do (yes, worth a ‘peak bagging’ point) but really would have preferred company for it. I didn’t expect great numbers, but even one other would make the walk far more enjoyable.

Catherine and Bec heading up a rocky bit.

Catherine and Bec heading up a rocky bit.

I was in luck. The walk description I’d written in the program painted a pretty bleak picture: a short but scrubby walk, no views promised… ‘book at your own peril’!! And so I got a lovely group of 6 of my crazy friends, which made the destination and the terrain now irrelevant: it was going to be a good walk regardless.

Catherine :)

Catherine 🙂

Just as well. More changes and added pressure at work, not to mention a few extra hours covering one girl who was at tafe, and I’d caught yet another cold by Wednesday. Friday was even more interesting, with unwanted and rather scary news making it difficult to get the sleep I was supposed to have before work and the walk.

Typical terrain heading south up the ridge

Typical terrain heading south up the ridge

Oh well. Just as well I’d already pushed the start time back to a VERY luxurious 8.30 (no one had seemed to mind at all!). What would have been another normal (but especially tired) day at work flew by when Jess came to visit at 4am, and stayed and watched me work for a few hours, chatting intermittently (very cool, and very much appreciated, THANKS JESS!). She was coming on the walk, but figured she’d fit a 10km run in first (as you do!).

Jess on lookout in her tree.. there are the wedgies!!

Jess on lookout in her tree.. there are the wedgies!!

Two hours later, I was off, picking Jess up on the way through to Granton. Smiles all round as we pulled up, and the laughter and teasing began at once. We got a little serious when it came to deciding on a stop in New Norfolk for coffees (very important), but otherwise set out in a light and happy mood, with which the weather seemed to agree entirely.

Ben, Jess and Catherine, taking in the view

Ben, Jess and Catherine, taking in the view

I drove a little tiredly, so it was just as well I had Bec and Jess in the car to keep me awake with a commando roll over the back seat to dig out my gps, and a wave to the car behind us out the sunroof. We did lament the fact that Jess didn’t have her bag of sheoak nuts to peg at them ;)!

Catherine joins the wedgie for a fly

Catherine joins the wedgie for a fly

We arrived without difficulty, and parked our cars by the lake. By the looks of things there were a few guys going fishing for the day or weekend there too. More mucking around while gearing up, and we set off. There was a short road walk at first, and we started off quite quietly.

View west from our little lookout

View west from our little lookout

But before too long chatter broke out between pairs or threes, and after a stop to adjust clothing we were soon all fooling around, throwing pink berries at each other, splashing people by throwing rocks into muddy pools of water as they passed and generally just having a good time being together. Mike found out very early on just how deadly Ben’s aim could be, as he took a nut on the head when he walked in front of Jess. He didn’t retaliate, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get his revenge before the day was over!

Jess and Bec on the way up

Jess and Bec on the way up

We were having so much fun, that someone pulled up at one point to check where we were going and when I checked my gps realised we’d walked straight past the point I had been going to turn off. I had a route from another friend (thanks Jocelyn) and had intended to follow it, but given we’d walked a fair way past the turn off we figured we’d revert to Plan B and follow the ridge up. The going was quite ok, and Ben and Glen seemed to have fun finding the best possible route through the relatively light (but nonetheless a little tedious) scrub.

A tree to lean on..I was happy to follow, and so we weaved our way up through the scrub, where possible slipping and sliding our way across wet tree trunks or scrambling up rock. All the while collecting pink berry ammunition for use later on ;). An early sighting of a wedgie through the trees had us excited, more than all the ‘honeyeaters’ we could hear, and Ben led us to a rocky knoll where it looked like we might have a view. Not quite, but the next one over showed promise!!

A few slippery tree trunks to walk along. Mike shows how it's done!

A few slippery tree trunks to walk along. Mike shows how it’s done!

This was very cool, as I hadn’t expected any view at all, and as a result, neither did anyone else. But sure enough, we sat on rock or climbed trees and looked out over Bradys Lake. The weather up here was not quite as ideal as the weather we’d left back in Hobart, so we didn’t get the extensive views out west that we could have had, but we could make out the Walls further north, and I think we were just grateful to be seeing anything other than trees!

Summit 'punch' in celebration of 12 points ;)!

Summit ‘punch’ in celebration of 12 points ;)!

As we sat and enjoyed, watching the cloud and mist come and go, the wedgie and its mate reappeared, and we stared, mesmerised. Catherine, sitting on a rock, wind blowing in hair, stretched her arms out and, for a moment, flew with them :). It always amazes me the way wedgies cast a particular feeling over the group, almost like a spell or drug, and it was clear that it didn’t really matter what else we did or didn’t see, the walk was already more than worth it.

Trig antics.. three very cool people :D

Trig antics.. three very cool people 😀

The cold wind did have us up and moving, refuelled by Jess’s Starburst babies (a special blue one for me!). Up and down we bobbed, staying on the ridge, heading in the rough direction of the summit. It was a longish way in comparison to the planned route, but we were all in good spirits, despite the occasional unexpected lie down as feet went flying, or uncomfortable pokes by sharp bits of tree.

The sum total of view from the summit

The sum total of view from the summit

And then we were there. Trig, really old soft drink cans and all!! The weather chose to clag in for a bit, and Mike lamented the lack of view, but as we sat to eat the blue sky came back. So too did the wedgies and we stood on the trig cross bars and watched for some time as they dove and soared with barely a flap of wings, repeating the process a number of times. Pretty awesome!

The group on the summit.. a pretty fun day :)

The group on the summit.. a pretty fun day 🙂

I have no idea how long we stayed. We spent time climbing on the trig, hanging from it, planking across it, taking a group photo on it… teasing Bec who was too short to see something that Ben and Jess were trying to point out, trying to sneak rocks into people’s packs (and this is where Mike got his revenge on Ben really well!). While Ben and Jess were trying to distract me so they could put one in my bag he slipped one into Ben’s, and I took the opportunity to pick up Jess’s sunnies, which she’d left by the trig and had forgotten all about.

Planking?

Planking?

But as always, we did have to leave, opting this time to take the gps route down. It was definitely more direct, but the scrub was a little worse (not so much an issue going downhill though) and the road we expected to hit turned out to be rather overgrown that it wasn’t much different from pushing through scrub! We were all very glad we’d gone up the way we did, and had the views we otherwise wouldn’t have had!!

Acting the fool ;)

Acting the fool 😉

Back on the real road, Jess, Ben and I spent the last of our energy trying to push one another into the mud, which is hard to do seriously when you’re laughing so much! This was all interspersed with slightly more serious conversation about life and possibilities and realities – a perfect mix.

And back to the start.. that's the road we took (the log truck detour one)

And back to the start.. that’s the road we took (the log truck detour one)

The ‘walk’ wasn’t over though. Back at the cars we were distracted by the late afternoon sun as silver shards filtered through the cloud and lit up the land on the other side of the lake. It was really quite peaceful and gave each of us a bit of time to enjoy it in our own ways: sitting, standing, photographing, skimming rocks…. then for a little bit more life and excitement, two puppies appeared nearby and stole our attention. We very nearly lost Jess to them 😉 (they were pretty cute!).

Silvery afternoon light demanded that we spend a few moments being and enjoying.

Silvery afternoon light demanded that we spend a few moments being and enjoying.

When we finally decided to get out of boots and gaiters, I popped Jess’s sunnies on the front seat of the car, hoping to surprise her. She’d realised she’d left the up there part way down, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of terrain conducive to a retrace. Probably I should have let her out of her misery when she’d realised, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun :p! Think she was pretty happy to see them… and I think I got a bigger hug than I deserved!

Love clouds and light and water :D!

Love clouds and light and water :D!

All up: 9km, 5.18 hrs, 404m ascent, and a really nice day out with some pretty special friends. Certainly appreciated and enjoyed.

Jess skims a rock for fun..

Jess skims a rock for fun..

Then we meet some puppies and quiet reflection turns into playful joy :)

Then we meet some puppies and quiet reflection turns into playful joy 🙂

 

 

 

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Bradys LO, Mt Blackwood, Sandbanks Tier: 15 December 2013

Bradys LO, Mt Blackwood and Sandbanks Tier GPS route

Bradys LO, Mt Blackwood and Sandbanks Tier GPS route

Another stunning day. So very different from the day before. Silver was replaced with brilliant colour, and the sun never stopped shining. We’d met at Granton at 6am, and were at our start point near Poatina and ready to go by 8. The gate across the road that stopped us from driving any further sported a sign “Hang gliding prohibited”, bummer! We’d have to walk all the way up and back.. Oh well.. We set out along the road, taking a right hand fork onto a not as well maintained road, but still very decent.

 

The gate.. bummer about the hang gliding!

The gate.. bummer about the hang gliding!

When we got to the point where all our maps and GPSs said we should hit the zig zag road we’d be taking up to the plateau we had a wander around.. nothing that looked remotely road like. After a bit of phaffing, we headed up, trying to stay roughly where our GPSs said the road should be.. it was most unread like.. in places we came to stretches that could resemble rough roads, but they weren’t continuous.. Many of us had long given up on the hope of finding a ‘road’ thinking it might just be best to do away with the zig zagging through scrub and rock and head straight up, but then we hit the real road.. a very decent real road!

 

Enjoying the taste of Waratah dew on the way up. Sweet and yummy!

Enjoying the taste of Waratah dew on the way up. Sweet and yummy!

The pace picked up and up we went, following the bends. Interestingly, though the walking was easier, I found myself looking more at my feet than out at the view. But as it continued to open up as we gained height, that was soon rectified. We stopped on the way up to enjoy the sweet sweet taste of Warratah dew, a first for me. There’s always been something about Warratah flowers that remind me of dead spiders with their curled up legs, and as such I’ve never quite felt the pleasure that many people seem to take from them, but now a new dimension has been added to my experience of them! If you’re out and you come across them, and it’s not too late in the day that the dew has all dried up, do taste it.. you won’t regret it!! This led to a conversation about Elder flowers and cordial, and the ease with which it can be made.. A must do, I’m thinking!

 

Approaching the top of the road and edge of the plateau

Approaching the top of the road and edge of the plateau

Onwards we trudged, puzzling over the inch or so wide holes we kept finding in rock, eventually deciding it must be from blasting rods or some such from the construction of the road. And then quite quickly we could see the final rise, marking the edge of the plateau. We popped over, 2 hours after having started, eager to check out what the going might be like.. Looked ok, not too scrubby at all! A regroup, and off we wandered to our first destination, Bradys Lookout. We gradually split into our own smaller groups again, as some stopped for clothing adjustments, pitt stops, or to take photos..

 

View out north, the cloud enjoying its views too

View out north, the cloud enjoying its views too

Murph, our leader, was unusually (for a tail end Charlie) out in front, keeping the incentive up to keep moving. I wondered if that had anything to do with his last walk a few weeks ago, that had turned into a 23 hour epic, or whether he was just all too aware of the mood of the group and the day. It was just so nice, it was wrong not to enjoy it, and so instead of getting on with the walking we did a lot of photo taking, a lot of chatting, and a lot of just admiring the day. It was full of brilliant blue sky, beautiful green scrub, and that rich earthy brown red land and grey rock. White fluffy clouds gave character to the sky, and spread their shadows across the mountains. I love the colours of Tassie.. but today was to be even more colourful!

 

Walking through the scoparia garden.. taking great pleasure in this plant for once!

Walking through the scoparia garden.. taking great pleasure in this plant for once!

I was near the back, and we slowed down considerably when we got to a part that I call the scoparia garden. Scoparia is most commonly known among bushwalkers for its prickly leaves (spikes really), that scratch and poke as you gingerly weave your way round or through it, turning expensive rain jackets into sieves. It only flowers for a very short period each year, and is easy to miss, or to only catch as the flowers are on their way out.. I’ve mostly only seen red before.. and even a week ago on the Southern Ranges I don’t recall seeing any other colour. But today’s gift was as unexpected as it was beautiful.. Scoparia in a range of colours! Whites, yellows, oranges, reds and pinks.. What a delight :)!

 

A small selection of scoparia colours

A small selection of scoparia colours

We lagged behind considerably, but perhaps it was a good thing that the ‘garden’ wasn’t too big, and we were soon concentrating on weaving between knee high alpine scrub on whichever of the numerous cairned routes we fancied. They seemed to merge into one, and we formed the more conventional single file. A good thing maybe, because when it was too late we realised we were a bit too far inland, and had some more serious scrub to go through. The higher land near the edge of the plateau to our left looked more open and inviting, but we weren’t backtracking, and it looked like we’d have to go through a small bit of scrub anyway. So we did, veering left so as to hit the higher and more rocky ground as soon as possible.

 

Lunch on Bradys LO

Lunch on Bradys LO

It wasn’t long before the going was open again.. over a rise, and there our summit lay. We could even see the stick sticking out of the summit cairn. A short climb and we were up, enjoying the views. Perhaps slightly less dramatic than the views of range upon range in the southwest of the day before, but very nice, and far reaching, all the same. We could see right back towards Mt Wellington even. One that stole my attention was unmarked on my GPS, but I’ve since been informed it was Tumble Tor. A fitting name I think. It seemed higher than Brady’s LO, on which we sat, and the summit cairn was certainly much more attractive! Might just have to pay it a visit when I go back and climb Billop Bluff, which is on its other side.

 

Tumble Tor and it's very attractive cairn!

Tumble Tor and its very attractive cairn!

The reluctance to move that goes with pure enjoyment was kept in check by the quite cool wind, that had some of us donning jackets quite quickly despite the suns best efforts to warm us. So after lunch we retraced our steps, but in hope of avoiding the worst of the scrub we stayed closer to the edge, and were rewarded for doing so. A few more scoparia photos on the way, and we were back at where we’d started on the edge of the plateau a very relaxed 4.15hrs later.

 

On towards Mount Blackwood.. flowers to smile at amongst the rocks

On towards Mount Blackwood.. flowers to smile at amongst the rocks

A snack break, then off to Blackwood! We followed the road to a rise, then stayed high to avoid the thicker scrub. We smiled at small white flowers bringing colour and cheer to the rocks they grew between, I heard others whistling, and I thought that maybe I wasn’t so weird. I’d felt like singing the two songs that were in my head out loud all day, but I’m not that brave, nor can I sing particularly well. Whistling seems like something I should take up! Though I’m quite sure that you probably can’t whistle any better than you can sing when walking uphill!! To go with the singing, I’d also wanted to spread my hands out and run, like I did as a kid, in an expression of freedom and joy, or even a cartwheel.. but that was curtailed to the occasional bouncing from rock to rock. I was full of a different kind of energy, and it needed an outlet of sorts.

 

And this just spoke to me.. no words, but it spoke all the same

And this just spoke to me.. no words, but it spoke all the same

I chatted with whoever I happened to be walking near, but at times I dropped behind or wandered ahead, alone with my thoughts. Enjoying the more distant sounds of happy conversing, spontaneous laughter, whistling, and even the odd children’s song :). There were birds singing, and bumble bees bumbling around as they do. It was nice to see them out and about again. There’s something powerful in nature, that brings out the best in us if we let it, I don’t think I’ll ever know quite what it is, or understand it, but that’s quite ok. I do know it makes us freer, less judgemental, softer and more at peace both with the world, others, and ourselves.

 

Heading down to head back up, Blackwood in our sights

Heading down to head back up, Blackwood in our sights

Anyway, back to the walking. The cairn on Blackwood was visible from a distance, and we just had one dip and the necessary rise on the other side to get down and over, and then we were there. There was another unnamed high point a bit further west, which looked higher, but wasn’t named, and we wondered at why points are allocated in the manner they are. We often do this from time to time, always with the same conclusion – there is no reason! But that didn’t stop us enjoying the summit we were on and the views out towards Cathcart Bluff, Drys and a whole heap more. While the others wandered around taking photos, I lay back, surprised at how much it cut down the chill from the wind, and concentrated on the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin. I shut my eyes, opened my ears and relaxed into the moments.

 

Sandbanks Tier from the bottom of the scree field

Sandbanks Tier from the bottom of the scree field

It had taken us 50 minutes to get there, and another 20 on top, and then it was time to head back down. We were tired, but we promised Murph that we wouldn’t slip and break anything, and, with an echidna to bring smiles to our faces again, we got down safely in 2:20. That included a stop at a very cool and refreshing waterfall just before the cars. We also solved our road problem – the road must have been rerouted and no longer goes where the map says it does.. if you’re interested in this walk, keep walking past where the maps have the road marked, until you come to a very decent road.. or follow the track we took on the way down, not up!

 

Evening light looking south along the ridge from the summit

Evening light looking south along the ridge from the summit

When we got back to the cars at 5:50, Murph asked who was keen to go to Sandbanks.. there was silence, and then Catherine said with a hint of tiredness and none of her usual enthusiasm, that she would. She didn’t have a choice though, it was her first Murphy walk, and that means there’s expectations to meet ;)!! We all decided we’d go, maybe not everyone would have if someone had said no, but I think we were all glad we did. The drive round was quick, and we made the few adjustments necessary. Some donned volleys or runners, ditched packs, or lightened  them. The walk was deemed a gaiter free zone (bar one small strip of scrub) so they were also ditched. I’ve already briefly written this one up, and it was the same terrain, but a different walk. We traded the jumping of fences for a walk round the edge, and then we were on the scree..

 

Orangey red, almost unnatural, light is cast over us and rock as the sun sets and the moon rises

Orangey red, almost unnatural, light is cast over us and rock as the sun sets and the moon rises

Scree.. tired legs didn’t stand a chance, their complaints were ignored as the rock monkey spirit took over. Everything became about where to put the next foot or hand, which rocks could be trusted, which should probably be avoided. Because it was so short and so open, the route obvious, we could just go at our own pace and wait at the summit. For rock lovers, the walk is a lovely little one. On top the light was lovely, the sun casting its golden evening colours on the tier. The wind hadn’t let up, and it was that, and the time, that would eventually drive us back down. But we did get to enjoy the summit for a bit, and it was probably just as well we left when we did. It meant that by the time we were near the bottom of the scree field the sun was turning the rocks red, and the moon had just risen above the ridge line. Another gratefully received gift from nature.

2:20 hrs after having left the cars, we were back down. Most of us didn’t worry about getting changed, and we enjoyed the fading light as we drove home.. drifting off along the way..No wonder: for the two trips 20.8+3.5km; 9:53+2:22hrs; 905+297m ascent.