Day three of a weekend of day walking saw me wake with the sun at 5, somewhat reluctantly and rather stiff. I gathered my gear, drove the short distance to the start of the longer but easier track off O’Neils Road, and was ready to go by 6. I wanted the early start so I could be back in Hobart before it was too late, get the tedious chores done and get some sleep before waking at 12am for work. If I had time and was still awake I wanted to drop by the hospital and see mum.
Not having done much research at all (relying rather gratefully on two texted photos of pages from a John Chapman book describing the walk – thanks Shaz!!) I took everything as it came. There was road, and more road, and even more road. I wasn’t really complaining, at least the gradient was nice, though I was glad I was in shoes not boots (I figured if it was a tourist route I’d get away with some approach shoes, and I had a few sore spots I was keen to stop getting worse). I wasn’t even wearing gaiters, though I did have them strapped to my pack (just in case!).
The road went on for a bit over 4 km, or an hour of my tired walking, before turning into steps, then the usual kind of dirt/rock path. Another half an hour later, with the hardest bit of the walking done, I popped out on top, with signs directing me left for 1.5 hrs to Roland, or right for 1 hr to Vandyke. I went for Roland first, enjoying the pleasure of easy walking on boardwalk for a bit. Then it was back to mud and rock.
I took my time, sending messages to mum and my family as I walked. I was hesitant to stop for too long as the wind was cold, the sun was in and out but mostly out, I wanted to miss the forecasted rain, and wanted to be back as early as I could. But I couldn’t walk any faster than slow, my body just wouldn’t follow my brain, so it was a matter of just one foot in front of the other.
Just shy of an hour after having left the signs, I was climbing up the VERY short rock scramble (10 metres MAX) to the summit, which sports both a trig and cairn. It also has a small plaque in memory of Barbara Ellen Jacobs, which I thought was pretty neat. A few photos, a look out across Bass Strait, and I was heading back down. The views are very nice, but having spent the last two days a fair bit closer to the north end of the Overland track meant they were slightly more distant, and so I spent a little less time admiring them. I did, however, enjoy setting eyes on the Gog range. I always like to see a mountain I haven’t seen or noticed before, and wonder what secrets it holds and when I might visit it, even if it’s not particularly spectacular.
The walk back to the junction was downhill and very easy, and more like 50 minutes than 1.5 hours. Then it was on towards Vandyke, which I was pleased was not only shorter, but a much easier walk. The track was almost all dirt, no rocks to negotiate, and the gradient was very kind for tired legs. When you get there there’s a sign and a pad heading off to the summit, which is overgrown in places (the only spot you might want gaiters, but I didn’t bother). Then you’re on to the conglomerate, and it’s up to you entirely which route you want to take. It’s only a short scramble.
This weekend was my first real experience climbing conglomerate scree, limited though it was, it would seem that conglomerate scree is larger, with adjoining rock surfaces further apart, and often not at the kind of angle that allows you to jump from one to another. Dolerite on the other hand, often has nice flat surfaces, with individual rocks connecting up nicely, allowing you to walk easily from one to the next, only occasionally performing more challenging moves. However, when it comes to the challenging moves conglomerate takes the cake, as its uneven surface provides countless holds, unlike dolerite which tends to be quite flat. You can do things on conglomerate you’d struggle to do on dolerite. Hmmm, quite an interesting experience, but I still think I need some more practice to become familiar with conglomerate and its possibilities.
Anyway, back to the mountain, there’s a very mossy rock marking the high point. A couple of snaps, some cold fingers, and I was back down and heading out. The Vandyke part took just over half an hour up, and about the same back. Then another hour back to the car, with a bit of jogging down the steeper bits of road, just because it was easier than trying to put the breaks on!
All up 6 hours, 20.5km, 1130m ascent. And so concluded my pretty awesome three-day-six-peaks adventure. Well not quite… a burger at Burger Me in Campbell Town was the fitting conclusion. I think I’d earned it.