The verdict was unanimous that we would take the four hour option to tackle Mt Donaldson (as opposed to the eight hour option!). That meant a short drive up the highway to a carpark just past the bridge over the Savage River. We piled into two cars, and set off northwards, with only one moment of confusion at the turn off onto the Western Explorer C249 :)
We set off from the carpark at 10.10am, crossing the Western Explorer to find the trail.
The track started on a soft leafy path through a quiet and still myrtle forest, very pleasant, especially since we knew we were in for a steady climb up Mt Donaldson.
Soon we emerged from the temperate rainforest onto buttongrass covered hillsides.
The track was mostly a white Pre-Cambrian calcite gravel, cut into the peat-covered mountainside, but the frequent sections of badly drained peat were pretty splodgy. Waterproof boots and walking poles were very useful.
A light drizzle arrived, but didn't last terribly long. Anyway, we were working hard enough to burn off the moisture.
|The Pieman River, from the slopes of Mt Donaldson|
We toiled upwards, the trail curling around the mountain, and the views changed as we rose and turned. We could see the Pieman River at times to the south, the Southern Ocean to the west, the white Western Explorer snaking towards the north, and the rolling flanks of the mountain around us were lovely in themselves.
We arrived at the top at 11.55am. Another (guided) climbing group was already there, but there was plenty of room to spread out on the rocks. An old trig station had fallen over but there was still a tall pole standing. Here we got our first and only mobile phone reception of the weekend, so a few emails and photos were exchanged with the world.
|The view to the north|
After a welcome packed lunch, we headed back down again, walking fast downhill and soon overtaking the guided group. Di took a tumble off the edge of the path into the buttongrass and rolled a way before working out how to stand up again. We were back at the cars by 1.50pm, well under the predicted 4 hours, so we felt pretty smug.
We wandered over to the Savage River bridge to take a look at the river, which was flowing strongly, before easing our stiffening bodies back into the cars and returning to Corinna. Lyn, Gerwyn and Wayne just took time for a cuppa and then headed out again to do the Whyte River walk. The rest of us cycled through the shower and collapsed in front of the fire with a cuppa and something to read. The energetic walkers reported back that the Whyte River walk was lovely and well worth it (1.5 hours).
Soon it was beer o'clock again, and another generous nibbles platter appeared.
About 6.30pm we departed to the Tannin Restaurant for dinner. This couldn't be more convenient - we only had to stagger across the road. The meal was pretty good, we thought, given the isolation, and a very convivial evening ensued.
|Dinner at Tannin Restaurant|