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Trip Report Bogong High Plains/ Big River/ Fitzgerald hut loop hike.28-31/12/20

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Your correspondent in the field has returned after completing a solo bushwalking adventure that has been in my
    " in tray " for a couple of years now.
    The route was
    Watch bed Creek( near Falls Creek )/ Fitzgerald 's hut/ Kelly Hut/ Track 107/ Big River/ Shannonvale/ Kelly Track/ Fitzgerald's hut and walk out.

    The hike took 4 days and 3 nights to complete.

    I drove up to stay at my friend's house in Myrtleford on Sunday 27th of Dec. 2020.
    I had not seen Ms. KJ since early July.
    I cooked her some daal and rice and made preparations for my bushwalking trip .

    Day 1 ( 28/12/20) of the walk involved me going up in my car to scout out the Big Hill road foot access to the Big Hill lookout , Spring Saddle, Bogong Jack saddle and The Fainters. I drove up from Cranky Charlie on the BHP / Falls Creek road.
    I found a locked gate that some trail bike riders were trying to dismantle. They soon lost interest in that when I mentioned that I might write down a few number plates and that I was " chummy with the ranger". ;-P .
    I will go back and walk the whole route from there soon in preparation for a planned BC XC ski trip to the Fainters.
    The West Kiewa Logging road seasonal closure gate was open . The unsealed road surface up from Cranky Charlie is not great and would become more challenging for the Tee mobile in winter with snow on the road.
    I went on ahead and drove up past Falls Creek resort and out to Watch bed Creek. I was last out there solo on XC skis in July 2020. It was much busier this time.
    After eating some lunch I hoisted my pack and walked out to Fitzgerald's hut where I set up camp with some middle aged YHA walkers.
    The hut was busy that night with two groups plus yours truly and I put on a guitar and vocal concert for their amusement.
    It was a cold night with fog. I slept much better that night , esp. after a hot restless night, the night before spent in the well named Ovens valley.
     
    #1 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
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  2. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 1. 28/12/20
    Scouting out the Big Hill road and starting the walk across the Bogong High Plains to Fitzgerald's hut.
    The Hut is situated at nearly 1700 M. ASL..
     
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  3. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 1.Establishing camp at Fitzgerald's hut. The fog rolled in as dusk approached.
    I hope I get a chance to XC ski out there this year , 2021. It would be an easy day trip on BC XC skis from Windy Corner.
     
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  4. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 2. 29/12/20
    I packed up my tent and back pack early and headed past the huge heritage listed Kelly tree ( a big snow gum tree that is mostly dead now ) towards Kelly hut and then down Track 107 in the early morning mist.
    I had never walked the imaginatively named track 107 before. Parks Vic. have put some new signs in this Eastern Bogong High Plains access area. They have put them in some places but not in other places where the map, compass and GPS had to be used to find a route. However overall the foot route down off the B.H.P. to Big River was quite easy to follow.
    It turned out to be quite a good bushwalking route with varied scenery, a snake on the path and a couple of navigational issues which are always interesting when trekking alone. Parks Vic. contractors have even recently cut some of the more annoying fallen trees that were blocking the foot route down to Big River.

    The dew was very heavy and my boots, high gaiters and quick dry trekking trousers became soaked through very quickly.
     
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  5. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 2. The solo trek down Track 107.
    The fog and mist made for moody lighting early in the day until the sun cooked the fog and dew off . At The two fords of Wild Horse creek I had to scout around for the track after the second creek crossing. There is a hut ruin just 50 M. up from the first creek crossing and there is a huge old snow gum tree down there too. The Frost hollow has created a unique sub alpine treeless setting where the footpad vanished in the grass for 50-100 M. The GPS , map and compass and my eyes and brain were all utilized and I was soon back on track.
    The water was flowing well. I wished I had have taken a picture of it but I was busy looking for the right place to cross the water and not fall in.
    The vegetation and views changed as I descended.
    The air became warmer too.
    The Hut ruins site looked like a good place to camp if one was ascending the 10-14 kms from Big River.
     
    #5 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
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  6. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 2. Coming out of the sub alpine heath and snow gums into a different world....
    along a narrow track that was sometimes wet and sometimes rocky.
    Somewhere near the Big River area I should have taken a south right hand turn but I just kept going until I hit the ford at Big River. I crossed it knee deep with boots ON and then took my lunch at that tranquil bend in the river and let my boots and feet dry out in the sun for a while.
    That was my navigational error.
    I then pressed on only to find myself on Paton's track( WTF??!!) according to the GPS and in the front yard of a house in Glen Valley entitled " Paton's wild side". I walked through the front yard , passed through the gate ( which I closed after myself) and kept going. The Map , compass and GPS all told me that the route would intersect with Kangaroo Creek track. I knew where that track starts and finishes . I knew it would take me to the Omeo Hwy . if I went SE. So I did.
    I popped out 4 kms upstream from the Big River Bridge next to the Omeo hwy. . I was an hour away from my Big River campsite. The actual Track 107 does NOT cross the river,
    :-0
    but follows the river on the eastern bank to meet the bridge and the camping grounds.
    I spied a local man working outside on his property and asked him for verification of where I was.
    He attested that I was indeed 4-5 km away from the said destination. He will be known as John from Orbost , and he was doing some maintenance on his holiday house. He kindly gave me some water and dropped me down the road at the campground in his 4WD vehicle.
    :)
    So no one went home in a chopper or a box that day .
    It was 1500 by the time I set up my tent. The campground was full of car campers. The majority were Afghan Hazaras. They took an interest in me( no car, small tent and alone etc.) and I was able to practise my halting or broken Persian language skills on them.
    They were interested to learn that the Bogong High Plains road was not far away and it would be enjoyable to visit that area .They had no idea about its existence .
     
    #6 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
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  7. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Late in the day on day 2.
    I had a tent pole malfunction ,so I had to use a metal pole sleeve and electrical tape to effect a bush repair job for the next two nights until I could get home and fix it with plyers.Some people were washing their hair in the river with shampoo and conditioner. I wonder if they asked the local fauna if they would enjoy that.
    What Knuckle draggers !
    Thankfully most people camping by Big River went to sleep by around 10pm/2200 which was good because I needed some sleep.

    I was still wondering why I did not back track and correct my error of navigation. I was just walking without looking at the map. There is no river crossing until near the Big River Bridge :-0.I knew I was going East when I knew I was meant to turn south. I was watching the compass but not so much the map.
    The GPS is not as reliable as using your brain !!
    I got off lightly on that occasion and will be far more careful in future!
     
    #7 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  8. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 3. 30/12/21
    I set a personal record with being packed and walking by 0645. I trudged up the Omeo highway in the cool early morning light and set off up Fitzgerald's road. This was the start of a 1000 M. elevation gain, over 14 kms from Big River bridge . By the time I reached Fiztgerald's hut at 1251 pm I was shattered, totally rogered and spent.
    I have shelved the idea of using this fire trail route for winter XC ski access. Some sections around the 1500 and 1600 M. elevation areas would be hard to navigate in deep snow and fog.The road would be buried.
    Much of the lower section had been burnt during the fires of Jan. 2020 and it has been bulldozed recently .The lower section is very steep for a 4 WD track.
    I was soon sweating profusely!
    .In Summer the upper Jeep track past the second locked gate is covered in ants. As a result stopping to eat was not viable, so I just ate trail mix, drank water and kept walking.
    The Kelly Track is now a management track .It is now gated/shut to public 4 x 4 access at the bottom and half way up.
    I bumped into a mountain biker from Mittagundi outdoor education centre while walking through the sub alpine area at 1500-1600 M. I did not expect to see anyone on Kelly track.
    He said I was not the first nor would I be the last person to cross Big River and miss the last 4 kms of Track 107.
    Further on Parks Vic. have sign posted crucial junctions for summer walkers and cyclists.
    There was good water flowing at the second gate.
    Unlike my Long Spur hike in November 2020 there was water available en route going down and back up the hill on this trek .
     
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  9. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 3. The section beyond the second gate was in the more sub alpine vegetation areas not unlike Lake Mtn., Mt . Wills etc. until I finally reached my campsite at Fitzgerald hut ,which is almost at the tree line.
    The last 100 M. pinch climbing up from 1600 M. ASL to 1700 M. ASL was just wrong :p. I had had enough and was not amused any longer!
    The rest of the day was spent hobbling around and resting ,trying to recover. That was a real slog!
     
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  10. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Late in the day on day 3.
    30/12/20
    A blazing sunset and a full moon too. There was water flowing from a spring , straight out of the rock and earth near the hut. Such good water, no need to filter it at all.
     
    #10 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 1, 2021
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  11. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Enjoyed this TR. Thank you.
     
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  12. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 4.
    Dec. 31st 2020
    The hike out back to the car and a visit to Pretty Valley by car via the Falls Creek summit road.

    I was packed up and moving by 0700 on day 4. I had heard that there is a plan to build a new ski touring friendly hut at Pretty Valley. So far I could not see any trace of this being made into a reality. The usual summer campers and horsey people were there.
    I saw a feral horse on my way back to the car. It was a lone male hooved beastie. On the walk out everything looked photogenic in the morning light. I became snap happy.
     
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  13. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 4.
    The 2 hour walk out over the Bogong High Plains from the hut to my car. If you have never hiked or XC skied in this area then wait for the plague to go away and and put it in your "Must do " list. Esp. if you are from outside of Victoria.
     
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  14. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    Day 4 . A visit to Pretty valley and the Falls Creek area by car.
    What a great trip!. The weather was kind, nothing really bad happened and I came back refreshed after having another cathartic and strenuous adventure in the Vic. Alps.
    :)
     
  15. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Kelly track ascent was relentless :-0 and so were the insects .... but I have ticked that one off now!
     
  16. neilmny

    neilmny One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Great report Mr Tee. Some fine pictures there too.
    Fitzgerald's is my favourite but a long time since I was there (the roof was red back then).
    As for Kelly's, yikes you'd have to be desperate (ok emergency shelter Neil) or that was the case
    when I was in that area during the time of the red roofed Fitzgeralds Hut.
    That very big old, gnarly and not very healthy Snow Gum next to Fitzgerald's must be a moolyun years old.
     
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  17. Ian

    Ian One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sounds like hard work, I thought Eskdale Spur was hard.
     
  18. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Eskdale spur is a tough hike for soft c*cks!.
    ;-P
    Some of the recent ascents (since the lockdown ended ), ones I have done up the Nobs track & Mt. McDonald , Mt . Wills, The Long Spur and The Kelly track are arguably longer, steeper and more arduous and tougher. Then of course you have Hannel's spur, the daddy of them all :-0.
     
    #18 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 3, 2021
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  19. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am sure this is Mr. T's attempt at humour so don't take offence. This is a pretty soft walk largely on management vehicle track. That is why it is used by year 9 outdoor ed groups for their first walk. 800m vertical over 11kms on Kellys track, the rest is downhill. That is only moderate in these hills.
     
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  20. Ian

    Ian One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    No offence taken, I doubt the year 9's are packing a dozen cans each.
     
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  21. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I might be a couple of kilos overweight after the lockdown and my pack is heavy but I do not carry cans of anything up these hills.
     
  22. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    But...Management Tracks as Bears well understand are sometimes a a litany of fallen trees and blackberries.The Team have some understanding of “Management Tracks”.:whistle::love::whistle:

    Sometimes the management is to discourage people from coming back alive!

    Bless the Parks and their “Management Tracks”
     
  23. chriscross

    chriscross One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There is The Staircase!
     
  24. Xplora

    Xplora One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    That may be so in other areas but specifically these management tracks are used frequently by vehicles and cleared regularly. They were sprayed again late last year also.
     
  25. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    I have not been up the Staircase spur track on Mt. Bogong for about three years.It could be time to do it again.... but not when it is a hot day. Parks Vic. have realigned the Eskdale spur walking track. I have yet to walk up it since this work has been carried out. I am trying to hike often this summer because I suspect another lockdown and a third wave of CV19 is coming.
     
  26. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just be careful should you be in Cowombat Flat ?No just jumping over the border just because you can!
     
  27. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Gold Ski Pass: Silver

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    My Walk from The Cascades car park( NSW) to Tin Mine Huts( VIC.?) and back( AAWT) ,
    is back on the drawing board until the plague goes away.