Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rumpff Saddle to Low Saddle, AAWT, Macalister State Forest - October 2017

I was almost at Mt Sunday by the time the cloud finally started to lift today.
Like on my night down on Black River my night at Rumpff Saddle was accompanied by the soundtrack of rain on the tent and once again it didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. If there is a more uncomfortable feeling than pulling on yesterday’s wet and cold clothes and waterproofs I’m not sure what it is. Needless to say it was a fairly subdued Feral Walker as I once again packed up a wet tent after breakfast, my melancholy mood wasn’t helped by the fact that if anything visibility was worse than it was last night when I arrived at Rumpff Saddle. After moderately successfully packing up camp while at the same time keeping most of my gear fairly dry (that big plastic bag again), I set off up the AAWT along Middle Ridge Road towards Mt McKinty Road still not knowing what Rumpff Saddle actually looks like!
I never did get a good look at Rumpff Saddle.
The initial section of today’s stroll along the AAWT was actually pretty cruisey, Middle Ridge Road sidling a bit (from what I could tell - the mist was limiting views a fair bit). Around twenty minutes from Rumpff Saddle I arrived at an unmarked track junction, this spot is mentioned in some guides as an alternative camp but it was a bit hard to tell with the limited visibility today if it was any good. While I wasn’t thinking of camping I was keen to get some water so I headed down the old track to the east. I was thinking I’d have to drop into a scrubby gully to find water, as it turned out one of the advantages of all the rain I’d been getting was that I didn’t have to look too far for water on what is renowned as a fairly dry section of the AAWT. After filling my water bottle from the spoon drain beside the old road I returned to the track junction and set off again up Middle Ridge Road.
Middle Ridge Road made for a pretty easy start to the AAWT today.
There wasn't a lot of AAWT markers around today until I got to Mt Sunday, from there down to Low Saddle (where you need them) is pretty well marked.
I was now climbing pretty gently up the the intersection of Middle Ridge Road and Mt McKinty Road in a shallow saddle. As soon as I turned north along Mt McKinty Road the easy walking finished, on paper I thought that this track didn’t look too bad, but in reality Mt McKinty Road is a bit of a roller coaster, there isn’t much level ground along here. Unfortunately for me the mist was still largely ruling out any real views, Mt McKinty Road passes above both Peters Gorge and The Gorge and allegedly there are some nice views down into these gorges but I’ll have to take Mr Chapman’s word for that. Stopping for a bit of a breather near Peters Gorge the cloud lifted enough for me to see around a kilometre or so, the rugged country that I could glimpse only teasing me, it wasn’t a total loss though, as while I was waiting, hoping the cloud would lift, I was joined by a Lyrebird scratching around beside the track.
Starting up Mt McKinty Road the easy walking was finished for the day.
Mt McKinty Road drops a couple of hundred metres to pass above the head of Peters Gorge, I dropped out of the cloud a little along here.
I was teased a little with glimpses through the cloud.
While I was sitting on Mt McKinty Road having a breather I was joined by a Lyrebird....sweet!
After my Lyrebird encounter Mt McKinty Track started climbing towards Mt McKinty, this is a very steep climb in spots but the worst of it today was that it seemed every time I slogged up a near vertical climb in the gloom, the track would then inevitably plummet back down to a wet and muddy saddle and lose almost any height that I’d gained. Eventually I passed over the 1350 metre Mt McKinty , there were no views though so I consoled myself taking photos of the Snow Gums in the mist. I suppose the positive news was that now the AAWT eased off a bit, the frequent climbs and descents continued but the gradients weren’t quite as sharp.
Mt McKinty Road passes through a lot of these high saddles, they were inevitably wet and muddy spots today.
Some creatures were enjoying the inclement weather more than me today.
Nearing Mt McKinty I started passing through Snow Gums again.

Continuing on along Mt McKinty Road I was now heading towards my next milestone, Mt Sunday. For some reason I’d imagined that Mt Sunday was a lot closer to Mt McKinty than it actually is, after dropping for awhile I stopped for a bit of a break and checked out my map, only then did I realise that I still had a few kilometres to go to reach the summit. I did have a bit of good fortune as I started the last climb up to Mt Sunday though, for the first time in the last 24 hours the cloud lifted enough that I could actually see a little of the country around me and as is pretty normal for me my mood seemed to lift with the cloud.
The AAWT eases off a bit between Mt McKinty and Mt Sunday, the cloud was still blocking any real views today though.
Mt McKinty Road.
Finally, on my approach to Mt Sunday the cloud started to lift a bit.
Arriving on the wide grassy summit of Mt Sunday my luck with the weather ran out again and I was again socked in. Dropping my pack I grabbed my phone and was thankful to get enough of a signal to get a text through to Sam, relief again washing over me as I knew people wouldn’t be worrying about me for awhile. Maybe it was all the good Feral karma floating around the summit of Mt Sunday but almost as soon as I got the text away the weather started to improve. I was able to leave my pack under a Snow Gum while I wandered across the grassy area near the summit looking for the continuation of the AAWT, and better still the cloud had lifted enough that I could still see my pack to wander back over to it, any visibility over 50 metres was an improvement over the last 24 hour.
The flat grassy area near the summit of Mt Sunday.
Poke around the open grassy area and you'll find the continuation of the AAWT in the scrub.
The continuation of the AAWT as it leaves the grassy summit of Mt Sunday is a little vague to begin with but once the track is located everything is pretty straight forward as far as navigation goes. The old fire track meanders around the Snow Gums near the top of Mt Sunday for a few hundred metres before dropping onto a wide spur and swinging from north to east. Once out of the Snow Gums I was again back in dense regrowth but even though the old track had a fair bit of fallen timber across it was at least pretty straight forward to follow. I was now dropping down towards my camp for the day at Low Saddle and the more I dropped the better the AAWT became, I’m not talking a manicured walking track here but as far as the AAWT goes the walking wasn’t bad. After passing a flagged route that drops steeply through the scrub to a water point the AAWT started heading less steeply to the north. Crossing a couple of ferny gullies that probably would be worth exploring a bit if you were looking for water, I popped out of the scrub onto Mt Sunday Road a few minutes south of Low Saddle. Thankfully the showers had largely gone now and I set up camp at Low Saddle under a gun metal grey sky. With camp sorted I grabbed my water containers and set off down Low Saddle Road in search of something to drink, thankfully with all the rain that had been around I only had to walk down to where Low Saddle crossed the first big gully around 700 metres from Low Saddle, with a few blackberries around it wasn’t a pretty spot but the water was OK. The good news tonight was that for about the first time so far on the AAWT I wasn’t forced into the tent early by rain or mozzies, happy days!
Once dropping down towards Low Saddle from Mt Sunday the AAWT is pretty obvious. 
Ah yes, a Fat Feral Favourite, clambering through fallen trees.
The closer I got to Low Saddle the easier and more obvious the AAWT became.
How good's this, a track marker and a I can avoid a crawl as well, you beauty!
The Dirt.
I walked 17 kilometres and climbed 715 metres on another hard day on the AAWT. After eight days on the AAWT the stats are 136 kilometres with 6005 metres of ascent. Water can be a issue through here, I got water down the old fire track that branches off Middle Ridge Road about a kilometre on from Rumpff Saddle, there was ponded water along Mt McKinty Road but the quality was very poor and I’d give it a miss. As I mentioned earlier between Mt Sunday and Low Saddle the AAWT drops down a makes a sharp turn to the north, there is (was?) a flagged route that leads down to what I’m told is reliable water. Heading north towards Low Saddle the AAWT crosses a couple of ferny gullies that had enough mud on the track to have me thinking that they might be worth burrowing into the scrub to see if you can find some water. Once at Low Saddle I dropped down Low Saddle road to the first gully and found some water. (Jumping slightly ahead of myself, I crossed two good rills of clear water flowing across Mt Sunday Road on my climb up to where the AAWT leaves Mt Sunday Road to climb Mt MacDonald tomorrow). Camping wise today there is a spot in a small saddle near where I got water but it’s less than two kilometres from Rumpff Saddle. There are plenty of good spots along Mt McKinty Road near Mt McKinty, the open areas amongst the Snow Gums as you get towards Mt Sunday are particularly nice - but there’s no water. Navigation today was pretty straight forward, the AAWT leaving the open tops of Mt Sunday needs a bit of investigation to find the pad initially but once on the AAWT it’s all pretty cruisey, although I was climbing over and under some large fallen timber for awhile. I managed to get a Telstra mobile signal on Mt Sunday today. John Chapman provided the notes and maps for the day again and I also carried Rooftops Jamieson - Licola Adventure Map in case I needed an overview.

Relevant Posts.
AAWT, Day 1, October 2017.
AAWT, Previous day, October 2017.

My Low Saddle camp was under grey skies but the showers more or less held off.

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