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Trip Report Upper Howqua River/ Stanley Name Spur/Mt.Howitt/Howitt spur.March 2020

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by Mister Tee on XC Skis, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. Mister Tee on XC Skis

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

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    A long time ago in a galaxy ,far far away before CV19 Global Pandemic level 3 restrictions were introduced in Victoria, three men including your correspondent in the field went on a bush walk and outdoor adventure somewhere in March 2020.
    It was one last hurrah for freedom before being confined to their respective homes for up to 6 months.
    Day one was a visit to Mt. No.3 Refuge hut via Mt. Stirling .
    Lunch was taken at King Saddle. Some numpty in a 4 wd had backed into the wooden snow gauge at King Saddle and broken it.
    I did have to wait for the cows to move off Road No. 3 .
    The hut was in good order and the views on the way there were very scenic.

    The views of Mt.Buller and of Mt. Cobbler were noteworthy. One hopes we will all be let out of confinement by late August 2020 so that a BC XC ski snow camping trip at the hut will still be possible via Carter's Road.
     
    #1 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Apr 3, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  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.
    After visiting the hut I went in my car to set up camp at The Upper Howqua River Campsite. The Circuit road was in good order and seemed to have been repaired as compared with prior circumnavigations of the said carriage way.

    The Bindaree road was VERY dusty. I always carry a chainsaw in the boot on such trips and a couple of logs had fallen down but not in a way that blocked the road forward or out.
    The G man and The R man later appeared at the said campsite closer to dusk in the R man's Subaru AWD horseless carriage.
    We talked around the campfire and later retired to our respective tents .
     
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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 2
    We set off just before 9am on
    the 15 km hike to Macalister Springs via Queen's spur road( a.k.a Blackberry hell track), Stanley Name Spur, The Crosscut Saw, The AAWT and eventually arriving tired and emotional , nay utterly spent at the Mac. Springs campsite at about 5 pm that day.
    There was another female hiker setting off solo from the same camp site for Mt. Speculation via the Howitt spur. That is a long day and we were impressed by her challenging itinerary for the day . We later saw her on the Cross Cut saw as we approached the top .
    The blackberries on the Former Queen's spur road up to the Stanley Name Spur Saddle were hideous. If they are not dealt with properly then the route will become impassable in 6 months.
    We scrub bashed along the overgrown lower Stanley Name Spur track. I was using a real compass and a GPS .
    Once we were on the spur it was easier to find the way. We had lunch at the Stanley Name Spur saddle. We could see Hell's Window from the log we sat on for lunch in fine sunny weather.
    We took another break at the campsite 1 km below the summit ridge of the Cross Cut saw. The G man and I went down to scout out the water source a little North of the saddle campsite. It was flowing well and we could hear it before we could see it. That stream is one of the sources of the King River.
    The ascent up the last section to th e top was a cracker with 400 vertical metres of elevation in 1 km of distance. We were crab crawling and climbing the nearly vertical bands of rock until I found someone had left a pile of refuse near the top and a short way further long the same person had done a turd right on the track and left a lot of used loo paper on the track.
    This is a remote wilderness area along a category 4 rated hiking route. The R man and I were shocked, stunned, appalled and discombobulated by such poor behaviour in a such a remote place.
    Frankly whoever did this was heading for first prize for the
    "Thoughtless outdoor F*ck knuckle of the year award"
    with few likely contenders to come in the next 6 months , the judging panel's decision will be unanimous.
    At the top of the Crosscut saw we could see the Howqua Valley a long way down , the King Valley , the Wonnangatta valley and endless mountains including :Mt. Speculation; The Viking ; The Razor; Mt. Buller ;Mt.Howitt's North face and Mt. Stirling et al.
    By the time we reached the campsite at Mac. Springs we had all had enough but had had quite an adventure. It was challenging, demanding and cathartic. There were 5 river crossings, blackberries to deal with, bush bashing, navigational matters and almost vertical rock climbing with overnight packs on our backs. The day 's hike had it all including great views and a swarm of ultra light trekkers who were heading down Stanley name spur and out towards the Circuit road.
    Perhaps one of them left the fresh refuse and human waste / detritus on the path ?
    We surmised as much.
     
    #3 Mister Tee on XC Skis, Apr 3, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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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. Howqua river crossings, Stanley Name Spur(SNS) , SNS saddle campsite , 1 km below the Cross cut saw summit ridge (and water point) up to Mac. Springs. We had good Autumn weather so the scenery was stunning.
     
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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. Finally at the top!
    That was tough .
    The last 90 min.s to Mac. Springs were walked under sufference!
     
  6. Mister Tee on XC Skis

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

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    The R. man's creaky knees were giving him trouble but he kept on going anyway.
    There is a new picnic table at Mac. Springs.
    The Team Leader @Ubiquitous Steve would approve of that.
    It seems to be strategically placed to prevent people having bonfires in front of the hut in a fuel stove only area and possibly accidentally burning the Gantner Hut down.
    Some other walkers had moved into the hut so we just chillaxed at our camp near the water source.The late afternoon sun kept the temperature up so we could dry out our tents and dry our damp sweaty attire.
    The R. Man had never been to Mac. Springs before. The G man had to go and look for him. He had become geographically embarrassed, delayed and fatigued. Thankfully all three friends made it to camp eventually , exhausted but safe and sound.
     
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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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    Day 3. The weather turned bad above 1600 M ,after a starry clear night that was timeless and remarkable.
    The wind picked up, clouds rolled in and visibility dropped quite a bit as I slogged it over the summit of Mt. Howitt ,Summit West and down the steep upper Howitt spur walking track.
    The other two chaps were 10 minutes ahead of me just heading West from Mac. springs ( as per my directions).
     
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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 . The Howitt spur to the Howqua river.

    The track is overall in a quite a good state but it does seem to go on forever. Finally reaching the river crossing at the bottom was a relief. We saw a snake at the campsite near where the Northern and Southern branches of the Howqua river meet.
    We ate lunch there and returned to our cars at the Upper Howqua campsite some 60 minutes later .It was sunny and mild back the Upper Howqua camp site but it did rain on the drive out along the Circuit road.



     
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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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    Not bushwalking at least monthly until White season commences will be bad for my head. Not surfing will be bad for my soul and
    Not XC skiing at Mt. Stirling this winter will be hard to take.
    So there we have it comrades.​
    The last hurrah outdoors in the wild with friends​
    before 6 very long lonely months of enforced confinement , just eating, cycling, reading, writing , playing music solo, playing records, painting pictures and sleeping .​



     
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