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Trip Report Paling Spur/Bogong High Plains/ Cobungra Ditch track.12-14/1/19

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by Mister Tee on XC Skis, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Salaam. Your correspondent in the field has returned from an insane and epic solo bushwalking trip in the Victorian Alps.
    Having been long curious about Paling spur and the access it offers to The Bogong High Plains ( BHP) from The Dinner Plain side of the Cobungra river I went off to do some exploring.
    Initially I was also drawn to visit McNamara's hut ( Dinner Plain/ Young's Top) as well as revisit Young's Hut.
    I shall get to those matters soon.
    I drove up on Friday and stopped at PV in Mt. Beauty and had a chat with a PV wallah. He told me PV have marked Dungey's track with orange arrows from Cobungra Gap to the junction with the Brandy Creek Fire trail.He also said that PV will be doing some work to the Young's hut 4 x 4 access track to McNamara's hut.
    He told me that it could be possible to get the Tee Mobile(RAV4 Toyota AWD with off road tyres ) up to McNamara's hut from Anglers' Rest via Callaghan's road and McCoy's track. I had a chain saw and extra bar oil and 2 stroke fuel in the car boot so what could go wrong ?
    So off I went. I stopped to check out the mystery hut near the Langford Gap Quarry on the BHP. It was locked but confirmed my suspicions that it does exist and that I was not hallucinating that I saw a hut when walking along the AAWT Aqua duct in the area a couple of green seasons back.
    The chappie at PV in Mt. Beauty said that hut is known as Maddison's hut and the Maddison family keep the key. I think they are a cattle farming family from the local area.
    That allowed me to get out and walk from the Langford Gap hut to stretch my legs.
    I went over the BHP and down to Anglers' Rest. I headed up Callaghan's road onto what seemed to be private farmland. The dirt road was fine up to that point. When I reached McCoy's track it became a 4 x 4 track and climbed steeply up the hillside. I had to open and close 3 gates that keep the cows up there on the straight and narrow.
    After the third cattle gate ( I think it was ) , I got out and walked the very steep and deeply rutted up hill track ahead of me. I said to myself I might be able to get up that track but coming down without low range gears, esp. if it rains would be stupid and foolhardy. Getting yourself into a place is only half of the equation in off road driving.
    So I turned back . The PV chappie in Mt. Beauty warned me about the colourful Mrs. McCoy and her farm near McCoy's track , there are some real characters out there in East Gippsland!. Fortunately I did not have to explain myself to her and I headed to JB Plain via Omeo to camp for the night.
    It was getting late and I had been driving all day.
    I had enough fuel to get back to Myrtleford after the hike so I was not too concerned that Omeo 's petrol stations were closed and were only taking 24 hour automated payments by cards only.
    JB Plain was as pleasant as ever and I found a spot to camp near a picnic table. I visited the hut and filled in the log book.
    I was off to sleep in my tent at dusk in readiness for what transpired to be a huge day on foot.
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    A photograph or two of Maddison's hut on the BHP.
     
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  2. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Maddison's hut/s.
     
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  3. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Basalt columns at The Quarry near Maddison's huts on the BHP.
     
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  4. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Scenery from the hilltop along McCoy's track , 4 x4 access from The Anglers' rest end of things to access McNamara's hut ( Young's Top/ Dinner Plain).
     
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  5. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  6. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was not going to drive up that section of McCoy's track. I will do another trip and walk it and take that route to McNamara's hut /Young's Top on foot.
     
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  7. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am ever wary of not getting into bother in my car on isolated back tracks and dirt 4 WD tracks. I can get myself out of most trouble on foot but in a car it could be big trouble!.
     
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  8. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Blue Duck Inn offers refreshments, a bed and a roof over your head if camping is not your thing in bustling Anglers' rest.
     
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  9. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Camping at JB Plain. It looks quite different in green season.
     
  10. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Picnic Tables are good!
     
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  11. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  12. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Our beautiful Alpine N.P. , JB Plain at Dusk.
     
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  13. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  14. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    On the Friday I got up to the 3rd gate on Mc Coy's track and decided it was way too steep, too rutted and just Lifted Nissan Patrol with a winch stuff not RAV 4/tee Mobile stuff.

    The next day I packed up camp at JB Plain went down Brandy Creek Fire trail . Since Ubi Steve chain sawed some logs along the river flats it was easier to find the bottom of Paling spur at the lovely campsite where Swindler's Creek and The Cobungra River meet.
    I slipped at the river crossing and got wet boots and socks so I changed my socks at the bottom of Paling Spur.


    Ubi Steve put the flagging tape on Paling Spur, marking the track.That was really handy.
    Once I reached the rock with the cairn on it at the top, things became more interesting. It was open country , rolling terrain with no distinct track and plenty of feral horse tracks going every which way.
    I realized I was off course for Young's hut when I saw Young's hut from the top of a hill. I set the compass for 320 Degrees NNW and went as the crow flies.

    This meant a tough head high scrub bash , a wild creek crossing and generally disconcerting and exhausting bushwalking in what is a TRACKLESS WILDERNESS.
    Finally I managed to locate/ reach the Young's spur pole line. I sat down and being fully orientated and 'safe' I started eating my lunch. It was 3 pm and I had been walking since 8 am!!.
    I had run out of water and forgotten to refill on the way .
    I was dehydrated and fatigued.
    I realized that since I last went to Young's hut , it was years ago and I was too buggered to be able to find the hut. That was where I planned to camp and most importantly I needed water.
    I decided to push onto Dibbin's hut , CRAZED WITH THIRST :-0 , I smashed it out down the spur on the AAWT past The Basalt temple and finally reached the Cobungra river. After rehydrating on an industrial scale I pulled into camp at Dibbin's hut at 5.20 pm.
    It was a very long day and a bit of an ordeal.
    Next time I head out that way I will get a GPS and load up the coordinates for Young's hut and McNamara's hut.
    I was surprised how wild and untracked that section is/was.In white season you could easily die out there. I was bewildered , embarrassed and inconvenienced that I could not find Young's hut. Coming in From Tawonga Huts last time I went there , I found it easily , no problem , but on that occasion I was not delirious and Ga Ga from pushing cross country through the bleeding wilderness.
    The rest of the trip was easier but the increasing heat was a pain in the arse and I walked out on day 3 .On Sunday( day 2) I did a day walk back up to Pole 267 , over to Pole 333 , down to Weston's Hut and back to Dibbin's hut via the Red Robin battery.
    At Weston's hut I met a couple who had also come up Paling spur and also had found YOUNG'S TOP to be a TRACKLESS WILDERNESS. They found Young's hut but not the Pole Line that leads to pole 267.
    Finding one and not the other is a better result than finding neither. I am sure you would agree.

    I saw quite a few feral horses near Pole 267.

    Monday ( day 3)was a real slog up Swindler's spur to Derrick's hut, over the hill to Spargo's hut , down the Golden Mile Spur to Swindler's creek where I topped up on water and schlepping back up the hill to the Cobungra Ditch track.
    When I got there the sun was like a burning anvil being dropped on my head. Even though I started very early in the day ….. I got up before day break!.
    I still had to slog out 9 km along the old gold mining aquaduct/ water race/ sluicing channel back to Brandy Creek trail head . It seemed to go on for bleeding ever!.
    I got back to the T mobile at Brandy Creek trail at 3.45 pm. I was well over it before that .
    Jesus on a bike, some of that hike was tough. The heat didn't help.
    Looking at the terrain , It seems possible to XC ski the Cobungra Ditch track in white season but the Dinner Plain to Hotham track is a better bet.
    I am going to buy a GPS soon . I will have another crack at visiting McNamara's hut and Young's hut but chances are I will hike in from McCoy's track.
    My thanks to Ubi Steve for doing the work he has done along Paling spur. It is still scrubby and steep but not too bad in terms of finding the way. What happened after that was more interesting, adventurous and disconcerting. However being able to use a topographical map and compass got me out of bother. No one went home in chopper or in a box nor did I have to ring 000 or use my PLB.
    It was pleasant to spend two nights at Dibbin's hut and I can recommend visiting that more walker friendly area around Cobungra Gap to anyone. I saw @hongomania's entry into the Dibbin's logbook as well as @Chaeron's entry too.
    On the drive out it was 30 C. at Mt. Hotham and 40 C. in Bright !.I went for a swim in the Ovens river in Myrtleford which was enjoyable.
     
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  15. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Sunrise at JB Plain.
     
  16. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  17. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The notice board didn't mention the bush bash through the bleeding wilderness. There was even a track marked on the map. Bollocks!. Once you cross Young's Top from ascending Paling fence picket in the fundament spur you are on your own and having a map and compass is not optional.
     
  18. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I made it down the fire trail in the cool hours of the morning. The Cobungra river looked lovely and there was even a sign post or two. Doing this route in winter could become a trip into a cold and wet hell. I would be wary of such a venture.
     
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  19. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    What an epic trip! Once people have done the standard stuff in an area, those of us who are inherently curious want to explore adjoining places that we've seen from afar. Mr Tee is doing the same sort of non standard route finding and exploring that I used to do.

    Over a decade ago I took a group of over a dozen from Weston's Hut to Young's Hut and just past McNamara's (northern) Dinner Plain Hut in a day. We found it moderately heavy going, but okay for a big group and nothing like Mr Tee experienced. It may have helped that we had three experienced navigators keeping an eye on the route we were taking and on a few occasions we sat down for a few minutes to debate the likely route when we disagreed.
     
  20. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    In the end sounds like a great adventure! Good on ya @Mister Tee on XC Skis!

    Nothing like getting to know the territory from the ground up!

    There are some great deals on GPS’s atm - ryda.com can get you one for less than $300.

    I have a cheap Etrex 20 which I loaded the Shonkymaps freeware onto http://shonkylogic.net/shonkymaps/ - it has all the Alpine huts and major tracks and geomorphological features on it.

    https://thegreatambler.com/installing-shonkymaps-onto-an-garmin-etrex-20-gps/304

    I have used it in in the snow in white-outs and in the dark in the bush - reliable and robust and not too difficult to use. Pre-loading waypoints has helped a ‘friend’ of mine locate places such as the Yarra Falls and so on...
     
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  21. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nothing like being able to work it out together - the benefits of cumulative combined experience! Would have been a great outing - thr Great outdoors, SO much more than just the few iconic walks!
     
  22. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  23. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Mr.Wet feet had a break at The Paling Spur base camp and changed socks, ate some trail mix ,took some anti histamines and anti inflammatory pills for the ascent and bush bash ahead.
     
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  24. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The campsite is worth visiting just for the idyllic location at the sangam( confluence) of the Cobungra River and Swindler's Creek.
     
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  25. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, we were using very brief, 20 year old track notes from an old Siseman book and we knew it would be a bit iffy. But if I knew it was going to be that challenging, I wouldn't have taken a big group of club walkers on that route, as I should have rated it hard rather than medium-plus.

    Still, everything went pretty smoothly on the navigationally dodgy section, no one really struggled and the only minor problem we had was that less experienced people didn't want to take water downstream of the "smelly" swamp near Macs northern DP Hut. Despite us pointing out that the swamp filtered out the bad stuff, they walked 1 km back up the 4wd road to fill their water bottles before the smelly section. We didn't argue, we just let them do it, but it still bothers me that people don't understand that swamps (sorry, "wetlands") clean dodgy water rather than contaminate it.
     
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  26. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    My knees never enjoy contact with wild tall grass pollen. They were giving me grief. The sound of the creek was soothing though.

     
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  27. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    This arrow marks the start of Paling spur.
     
  28. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The foot pad that winds its way up from the camp site up the scrubby and steep spur.
     
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  29. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I had enough to contend with ascending Paling spur but I did take some photos of the trackless wilderness once I was in the vicinity of Young's top . However I was more preoccupied with navigation. When I am more relaxed I can focus on the scenery in a more photographic way.
     
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  30. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    You could die out there and no one would know. Not since the Northern Prom. circuit have I encountered such a trekking experience.
     
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  31. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Much of the terrain was rolling terrain that looked much like where I just come from and where I was going. If I had not have seen Young's hut from a hill top and got the right direction using a compass, then who knows where I may have ended up?. Fortunately I found I could orientate myself at a clearing with Mt. Loch to the west and Young's Spur to the NNW.I kept going with 320 Degrees NNW policy. It was all I had to go by. I did see some nice old snow gums.
     
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  32. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    My instinct told me to keep going and not eat lunch and relax until I was 100 % sure I knew where I was . Allah ka Shukarar! I found the Young's Spur Pole line that leads to pole 267 on the BHP. I was perturbed by not locating Young's hut but I had found SOMETHING that would lead me out of the wilderness! Show us a sign!.
     
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  33. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I recognise that tree I think! Path goes right by it.
     
  34. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Jeepers ,at least it wasn't foggy. If it was I could have been in real hot water. Visibility was excellent. There it was , Mt. Loch. Then I knew I was getting SOMEWHERE.
     
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  35. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I had a feeling that my trip across the trackless wilderness was concluding soon.
     
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  36. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Mister Tee on XC Skis - with this behind you now you’re ready for the Speculation - Mt Despair, Viking - Crosscut Saw circuit via the Terrible Hollow and the Devil’s Staircase - ridgelines and rivers through the Hollow all the way - the Staircase is better than Zeka Spur. You know you want to!
     
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  37. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Fools rush in where angels take a break , or so Lou Reed said once.
     
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  38. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I took a break once I located Mt. Loch and the first man made feature I had spotted for positively hours, a post. I was sure that nobody had moved Mt.Loch before breakfast that day.
     
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  39. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    "Mmmmmmm, a nice tree, maybe I should chillax and eat lunch here?"

    "NOOOOOOOOO, find your way out first " said the voice.
     
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  40. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Are you paying for the subsequent and necessary therapy that I will require If I return safely ?
     
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  41. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    As I became hungrier and more dehydrated the photos thinned out. I finally ate some lunch and decided to press onto Dibbin's hut where there was definite water and I could just follow pole lines like a zombie crazed with thirst. I noticed that PV have dismantled the old Yards on Young's spur so I was a bit disorientated by that ,even though I recall they were adjacent to the pole line coming down from the BHP towards Young's hut.
     
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  42. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The poles were a welcome sight. Don't poo poo the pole lines here in VIC. . They are life savers.
     
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  43. weerab

    weerab One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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  44. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The feral Horses were oblivious to my plight as the fatigued and water deprived trekker on a single minded mission to smash out the 3.5 kms down to the Cobungra River at Dibbin's hut. I was able to enjoy the scenery better the next day when I returned for a day walk over the BHP to Weston's hut. It was hot work following the AAWT down the pole line.
     
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  45. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am a UK born person of 50 % Indian/Pakistani origin. I like a laugh. Even when things seemed a bit grim I knew I would get myself out of the spot of bother I was in. My outdoors experience came in handy on this trip. Others may have lost the plot. I know my limitations .I was stretching them a bit I must say. I will attempt to visit Young's hut another time .
     
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  46. weerab

    weerab One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Seriously, if you like a laugh, have a look at Still Game. It's on Netflix but also available on Youtube. It's the only series which has given me a proper belly laugh for years. I don't mean any disrespect but your use of the occasional use of words like "wallah" and your turn of phrase has given me much pleasure reading your reports. :)
     
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  47. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Geez ,it was a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong day.
    It must have been more than 20 kms that I walked. Going off course added more distance and the extra effort of pushing through dense sub alpine scrub, crossing water courses that were both beautiful and indifferent to my presence added to the feeling that I was over drawing my account on a grand scale. Being on the BHP Pole Line was a relief but without water I was in perdition. How did I forget to refill my 3 L. bladder at one of the streams that I crossed earlier?
     
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  48. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes, a lot of grass and nice views and not much water.I could have drunk Feral horse pee right from the source at that stage.
     
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  49. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Go on, you know you want to!

    I've spent at least 100 days hiking in the Buller-Howitt region in every season over several decades. The one and only time I didn't know exactly where I was, was on the Howitt Plains between Howitt Plains Hut and Macalister Springs Hut. But that was under snow when we couldn't follow the snow covered track. Everywhere else the seriously contoured landscape means you can place yourself on a map within a couple of hundred metres. So while the going can be rather difficult, it's almost impossible to get lost. So, take plenty of water, just plod away and you'll always get to your destination. :)

    P.S. Zeka Spur is a long steepish slog, but it is a fair bit easier than ascending The Devils Staircase.
     
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  50. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Anything! But Zeka!