Cheyne Range 2004

Saturday 9 - Wednesday 13 October 2004
We walked on the good track from Lake St Clair past Shadow Lake and up the rock scree of Little Hugel, before leaving the track behind as we  headed down through forest to the very headwaters of the Franklin River to camp.
Tent near Hermoine

A fine and beautiful Sunday was spent strolling through the gorgeous alpine valleys with tarns, pines, snow gums and lakes before climbing to the top of the Cheyne Range and a camp by a small lake with a foreshore of cushion plants backed by a ridge thick with pencil pines.
Tarn pine and Alan
Cheyne  valleys and Hugel  the lake of previous photo

Pines and cushion plants at lake north of Mount Gell
Although the next day started out fine it became windy and a high cloud crept in taking the sparkle out of the day.  In fact the wind made it a little tricky getting over the boulders on top of the northern peak of Mt Gell.  A scrubby ridge leads off Gell to a lake shaped roughly like a map of Australia where we arrived at 3PM and debated whether to go on to the Franklin River.   This involved a 200 metre climb then a sharp 400 metre descent and about 150 metres down we discovered a cliff below us and had to climb back.  A sheltered little valley just under the peak was irresistible and a comfortable camp was appreciated there.
Gell from near camp

Lake Undine
This turned out to be quite fortuitous as the descent to the Franklin River turned out to take longer than first thought, especially once the scrubby areas closer to the river were reached, and no suitable campsites were seen. The section of river we came to had rapids and by luck a series of rocks allowed us to cross with no more than wet feet.  Part way down the river valley we crossed a large  open area and were greatly surprised to find a Richea scoparia in full flower; a good two months ahead of normal.  There was a bit of scratchy scrub to negotiate before we got to a rough road.

It had been a pretty warm day and we had left at 8AM and at just after 3PM had 2 kilometres of road to walk before staring the climb over Mt Rufus.  Once back on a track it was a bit easier on the feet, but when a camp site was reached just before 5PM we were quite relieved.  Our final day started with a cold wind and threatening dark clouds and just as we reached the summit of Mt Rufus wind driven icy rain slashed at us we got down off the top at a quick pace.  We arrived back at the cars at Cynthia Bay in time to enjoy lunch and coffee at the visitor centre restaurant.