Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mt Cobberas No. 1 to Cowombat Carpark via Western Spur, Alpine National Park - February 2018

It wasn't a bad view to wake up to.
My night up on Cobberas No.1 was interesting, to put it mildly. This was my first night in my new Borah Gear bivy bag after retiring my old Paddy Pallin bag. My new bag is slightly larger than the old bag so there was a bit more room in it than I’m use to, which combined with the fact that I was using Sam’s three quarter sized sleeping mat and the fact that the bottom of the new bivy bag’s floor is really slippery meant that it was like sleeping on a big bar of soap, as everything kept heading in different directions. Now it wasn’t only the inside of the bivy bag that was slippery either, waking up for my old man’s ritual 3am piss, I emerged from my cocoon to find that I’d slid around four metres down the hill, my crumpled ground sheet back up the hill now in danger of blowing off the mountain, yeah I’m obviously going to have to make a few adjustments in the future! Seeing that it was 3am on a very cold mountain top now I just dragged everything back up the hill and found a small hollow to lay in, at least I wouldn’t end up down in the valley like a human toboggan.
Crawling out of the bivy this morning I was greeted by a beautiful day.
I ended up quite a few metres down the slope at 3am this morning!
The view to the east.
Needless to say after my restless nights sleep I wasn’t overly keen for a crack of dawn start to today, dozing on and off as the sun crept up over the surrounding mountains. With a bit of sunlight starting to warm up my bivy bag I decided that I’d better make a move, after all the whole purpose of heading up here was to catch a great sunset and sunrise and while I’d caught the sunset I was now in danger of missing the sunrise. Staggering to my feet I headed a few metres to my rocky perch to check things out, the view over the fog shrouded valleys and mountains to the east towards the Snowy River being particularly good. After meandering around the summit area for awhile rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, it was soon time enough to pack up and start my journey back down to the ute.
Cleft Peak, with The Pilot in the middle distance and the Main Range in the distance.
Did I mention the view to the east?


Literally shoving everything into my pack it was probably one of my quickest ever pack ups, from go to whoa it took less than 3 minutes to break camp, hmm why couldn’t it always be this quick and easy? My route back down to the ute had me initially following the walking track that comes up from the Playgrounds which meant that my days walking started off very civilised. The walk along this high alpine ridge is a very good one, the faint pad fading in and out a bit as it meandered it’s way through the twisted Snow Gums and across small Snow Plains. Passing yesterdays route I continued on now dropping steadily as the walking track faithfully followed the crest of the spur down now heading in a south westerly direction.
It was easy walking initially this morning as a followed the Playgrounds Track for a couple of kilometres.
The Cobberas No.1 summit ridge makes for superb walking.
At one stage the pad headed down through what appears to be an avenue of Snow Gums.
There was no shortage of twisted and contorted old Snow Gums to distract me this morning.
I was now keeping an eye out for when the walking track would take a 90˚ turn to the south east and drop off the side of the spur indicating the spot that I had to leave the track and strike out off piste again down the spur. As it turned out identifying this spot was very easy and I was soon picking my way down the spur using brumbie pads to help find my way around rocky outcrops and some of the thicker areas of scrub. The walking on this upper reaches of the spur was really nice actually, there were enough challengers to make it interesting without the walk turning into a slog as some off track walks can tend to be. A couple of brumbies and plenty of parrots also adding something to today’s stroll.
After crossing a couple of these open grassy clearings the track left the ridge, while I continued on down the spur.
The upper reaches of the spur was still pretty easy walking.
There was a bit of light scrub in spots....
.....and plenty of rocky outcrops.
Reaching a large rocky knoll that Mr Tempest has labelled Rocky Knoll the spur swung around a little to start heading north-westerly. Gradually as I was dropping lower and lower the walking was getting scrubbier and scrubbier and while it was still pretty easy as far as off track waking goes the scrub now meant that there were no real long reaching views, so navigation became a little harder. The spur also had a couple of rock bands to negotiate, one of them being particularly steep. Overall though, so long as I stayed on the high ground as I descended the going was reasonably straight forward, however staying on the crest of a spur descending in scrub is never just a walk in the park.
Lower down I was pushing through a bit of this alpine scrub.
Have I mentioned that it was a pearler of a day?
Eventually the spur started to open up so I was now almost following a bearing as I pushed the last kilometre back to the ute. Avoiding a couple of open grassy leads I stayed faithfully on my bearing, eventually popping out of the scrub onto the dusty Cowombat Flat Track around 100 metres from the car park, happy days. Arriving at the ute I quickly changed out of my sweaty clothes, throwing everything in the back of the ute I settled in for the 7 hour trip back home with that euphoric feeling of having experienced a great walk.
Sometimes I'd pick up brumbie pads for awhile.
These rocky outcrops where now the best spots to get a bit of a view to help with the navigation.
Down at ground level I was concentrating on staying on the crest of the, now fairly broad spur.
Progress was still pretty good though.
With no long range views I concentrated on the little things in the forest.

The Dirt.
I walked 7.5 kilometres and climbed around 120 metres on today’s medium grade stroll. Over the two days of this walk I walked 15.5 kilometres and climbed 870 metres on what was probably a medium grade overnight walk. The walk as I did it is pretty much the same as the one written up by Mr Tempest in his Daywalks Around Victoria book, while it is possible to do this walk in a hard day out, being such a long drive from home the overnight option suited me better, and spending a night on Mt Cobberas No.1 meant that I’d get a bonus sunset and sunrise, all good! As I mentioned in the day 1 post, I used Mr Tempest’s maps along with my GPS maps to get me through. The off track walking up at the Cobberas can be a little rough in spots but as far as off track walking goes it’s generally pretty good, there isn’t a lot of the almost impenetrable regrowth that now characterises a lot of the Australian alpine country.

Relevant Posts.
Day 1 of this walk, Alpine National Park, 2018.
Stony Creek to Cowombat Flat, AAWT, Alpine National Park, 2017.
Cleft Peak, Mt Cobberas Number 1, Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.


It takes a fair bit of willpower to avoid these open leads....
....and head back into this.
I've just met up with Cowombat Flat Track around 100 metres from the carpark.
Looking back to the start of the spur that I've just descended, it all looks pretty easy from here, doesn't it?
Time to settle in for the drive home.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cowombat Carpark to Mt. Cobberas No. 1 via Moscow Saddle, Alpine National Park - February 2018

Cleft Peak with The Pilot in the middle distance and the Main Range in the distance.
In the middle of writing up my seemingly unending AAWT posts I decided that I needed a bit of downtime. Since I’d wandered past the Cobberas on my walk to Canberra but hadn’t headed up onto the range, I decided that a visit to the tops was in order. To make the walk into a circuit I decided to head up to Cobberas No.1 via Moscow Saddle, bivy just below the summit and then head back down to the ute in the Cowombat Carpark via the spur that runs in a roughly westerly direction from the summit. So after putting in a few hours at work I jumped into the ute and headed off on the almost 7 hour drive to the Cowombat Carpark, arriving in a cloud of dust just after 2pm after what had already been a pretty big day.
I'm about to head off from the dusty Cowombat Carpark.
I followed Cowombat Flat Track for a little over a kilometre today.


Climbing out of the ute and changing into my walking gear I could almost feel the moisture being sucked out of my skin by the dry and dusty bush. Driving in I’d noticed both small arms of Stony Creek with barely trickle of water in them, with almost no chance of finding any water in the headwaters of Moscow Creek up on the range I was carrying 8 litres for my bivy tonight. So with 8 kilograms of water on board, my pack was surprisingly heavy as I headed off along Cowombat Flat Track this afternoon, crossing the bone dry Bulley Creek I was happy to have enough water to see me back to the ute tomorrow though.
Bulley Creek was bone dry on this visit.
Shortly after crossing the dry Bulley Creek I turned east and started climbing the long spur that eventually tops out at Moscow Peak. This spot marked the end of any kind of walking track today until I was a few hundred metres from the summit of Cobberas No.1. When I was shuffling past here back in November last year on my AAWT walk I noticed that there had been a fire to the east of Cowombat Flat Track but I didn’t head up onto the range to check out the extent of the fire. Heading up the spur today I was mildly surprised at the extent of the damage, while the actual fire had thinned out the undergrowth a fair bit there was very little in the way of any significant effects from the fire. What there was though was massive firebreaks that had been bulldozed through the bush, so what was normally an off track climb up the spur through the scrub now became a bit of a slog up the wide bulldozer scar, at least until I got to around the 1500 metre mark where it looks like the bulldozer retreated. Higher up where the spur gets pretty pronounced the dozer had more or less kept to the crest as well, which is normally the spot I’d want to be climbing on an off track spur, oh well at least I wasn’t getting a scrub massage I suppose!
I'd noticed that there had been a fire here when I passed through last November on my AAWT walk.
The spur that heads up to Moscow Peak use to be a very pleasant off track walk.
I'm thinking that it would probably be best to give this route a miss for a couple of years until the bull dozer scars start to revegetate a bit.
The bulldozer got to around the 1500 metre contour.
Once above the dozer scars everything returned to normal for the Cobberas, the higher I climbed towards Moscow Peak the better the walking became. The rocky spur with it’s fairly open forest making for interesting walking without any real navigational conundrums. Once I’d climbed the spur to around the 1570 metre level I started to sidle around towards Moscow Saddle below Moscow Peak. This sidle was probably the roughest section of todays walk as I had to pick my way through some pretty rocky country while negotiating the scrub and at the same time being on a fairly acute angle on the side of the peak. It was with some relief when the land flattened out a bit and I found myself at an old camp that I’d used before in Moscow Saddle, not that I was camping here today though, in fact I was barely halfway to my nights bivy.
Once above the earth works the walking up Moscow Peak Spur was pretty sweet again!
Sidling across the slopes of Moscow Peak towards Moscow Saddle was probably the roughest walking for the day.
It's pretty rocky across here.
Passing through the scrubby saddle I started to climb again, I was now heading up towards Middle Peak. While the climb up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak is steep and scrubby it’s largely fairly straight forward as far as the navigation goes, just stay on the high ground and keep climbing until you top out is basically the extent of it really. Nearing the top I reached the high ridge that connects Cobberas No.1 and Cleft Peak at it’s extremities, I was giving Cleft Peak a miss on this walk so headed towards Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1. Once on this high ridge the walking gets pretty rugged, this ridge is very rocky and it requires concentration to avoid the many bluffs and thicker sections of scrub. By passing the summit of Middle Peak I dropped down a steep gully through the cliffs protecting the summit, arriving at a nice grassy flat saddle that was home to a couple of brumbies today, but which would make for a nice campsite for me one day.
Climbing up from Moscow Saddle to Middle Peak there was only a bit of light scrub to deal with.
Getting closer to the ridge that connects Cleft Peak to Cobberas No.1.
Middle Peak
I dropped steeply down a gully beside the cliffs that protect Middle Peak.
Leaving the saddle between Middle Peak and Cobberas No.1 I started climbing again, once again off track. My final climb was only fairly short at less than 100 metres but it was pretty steep, initially at least. The good news was that apart from this being my last climb for the day, it was also the least scrubbiest section of the climb. By the time I reached the long summit ridge I was pretty well shagged out today, not that it really mattered now as once on the high ridge I soon intersected with the marked walking track that heads up here from the Playgrounds (the only walking track that penetrates the high country of the Cobberas Wilderness). With the walking track suddenly making walking very easy I was able to read and enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery surrounding me, the Snow Gums twisted and contorted into all sorts of gnarly shapes.
Reaching the Cobberas No.1 ridge I met up with the walking track that comes up from the Playgrounds.
Scrambling up to the summit I disturbed Sambar Deer.
Looking back across towards Cleft Peak from Cobberas No.1.
Mt Cobberas No.1
Ten minutes or so after meeting the walking track I arrived at the summit of Cobberas No.1. After finding a nice soft spot under a Snow Gum on the Snow Grass to bivy for the night and setting up camp (a fairly quick chore when only using a bivy bag), it was time to scramble up the last ten metres or so to the summit trig. To get to the very top of Cobberas No.1 requires a bit of an exposed scramble for the last couple of metres and once on top there is only a bum sized spot to sit, not that it matters much as the view from a couple of metres lower down is just as good really. It was after 6pm when I arrived up here today and the rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and doing a bit of reading, all punctuated by numerous short excursions around the summit area trying to capture the changing light with my camera. After the sun finally dropped down below the horizon I gave Sam a call and climbed into the sleeping bag to combat the creeping cold, spending very little time reading before sleep overcame me.
There isn't a lot of room to park my fat arse on this summit.
Cleft Peak

This post is turning out to be a bit of a photo dump, hey.
The Cobberas Wilderness is a pretty special spot I think...but it takes some work to get there.

The Dirt.
I walked around 8 kilometres today and climbed around 750 metres on this medium grade stroll. Now while I’d rate it as a medium grade days walking you need to be able to navigate and route find in sometimes rough country so expect fairly slow progress. Unfortunately the Cobberas Wilderness is now home to a lot of feral horses and deer so if you are here when there is a bit of surface water around then I’d treat it. I used Mr Tempests notes and map out of his Daywalks Around Victoria book along with my GPS maps, I’ve walked up here a few times before though so have got a bit of an idea of the lay of the land. There are plenty of beautiful spots to camp just short of the summit although there is generally no water close by and being on a ridge top it’s a little exposed.

Relevant Posts.
Stony Creek to Cowombat Flat, AAWT, Alpine National Park - 2017.
Limestone Road to saddle south of Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.
Cleft Peak, Mt Cobberas Number 1, Moscow Peak, Alpine National Park, 2016.

Tonight's bivy on Cobberas No.1, I've had worse!
Strap yourself in for a few sunset shots.



Time for bed:)