Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mount Field East - 1st January 2012

Forest below Lake Nicholls in early morning mist, Mount Field National Park - 1st January 2012

I haven't done this walk for about 15 years I think. Last time was with my oldest son on my back, he'd have been around three, and we didn't go to the top as the wind and cold on the plateau was unpleasant that day.

Not so this last weekend, although the day dawned cloudy and drizzly at Mount Field. This walk can be started from either Lake Fenton or lower down the road at a signposted parking area, and done either as a circuit or an out-and-back from either spot. I've always started at the carpark lower down, and did so this weekend.

The walk starts with a shortish uphill stretch. A turnoff to the left signposted to Lake Fenton is passed. I honestly have no idea where this track comes out higher up, as I was unable to find an upper end to it later in the day. I will have to walk up it one day when I have the time and inclination. The right fork heads for Lake Nicholls and Mount Field East, and levels off to countour around the hill and then onto the narrow lateral moraine to the east of Lake Nicholls. There are views down to the lake here, and the track then descends slightly off the end of the moraine to the lake outlet and hut. For the first time in about four or five visits here I was rewarded with sunny views of the lake, and it is very beautiful. The forest is also pretty, and on Sunday the sunlight filtering through the soft mist and around the trees was a fine sight.

Slime mould on Lake Nicholls track - 1st January 2012

The hut has been renovated and is quite welcoming. I didn't pay any attention to whether camping is allowed in the hut, but it would certainly accommodate it from a physical point of view. There are plenty of boulders at the lake shore for sitting and enjoying a break and a snack.

Lake Nicholls, Mount Field National Park - 1st January 2012

Beyond the hut the track climbs significantly. Lake Rayner will be seen on the left, and the track then climbs across boulders and past increasing pandanni to emerge on the plateau of Windy Moor below the summit pile of Mount Field East. The cairned track climbs across boulders, occasinally steeply, to arrive at the summit which is marked by a large collapsed (demolished?) cairn. This now resembles a bowl-shaped windbreak, like the one on Hartz Peak only larger. Good views can be had from here, and in the warm sun on Sunday it was a good spot for a rest.

Waratah, Telopea truncata, Mount Field East Track - 1st January 2012

Descending to the base of the boulders again, a track heads off southwest across Windy Moor. This was quite dry, but could be a little damp underfoot after wet weather I think. the track climbs a little onto a ridge and then descends quite steeply to Lake Fenton. A sidetrack to Seagers Lookout is passed on the descent, and a sidetrip here would require an 80m re-ascent. The track emerges at the Lake Fenton mini-dam, another good spot for s rest. I looked here for a track that would take me back down to the carpark without requiring a walk down the road. There is a track which starts through a gate and passes the Lake  Fenton hut, but it emerges on the road, and I couldn't find another obvious track. The road walk is about 2.5km. I do recall a nice ranger passing a friend and I on this stretch once as the rain fell and giving us a lift in back of his ute. Not on Sunday, but the road is relatively safe with good visibility at most points, and most cars are going quite slowly.

Mount Field West and Naturaliste Peak viewed from Mount Field East with Windy Moor and Newdegate Pass in between
- 1st January 2012

All in all this is a good walk, with interesting sights and good spots for breaks along the way. I took about 4.5 hrs with several stops to enjoy the lake, the peak and lunch.

Metallic Skink, Niveoscincus metallicus (I think) - Mount Field East - 1st January 2012


Peter Franklin said...

Hi Mark
I have some notes on the whereabouts of the link track to save using the road all the way between the track car parks.

It is at http://bushwalktracknotes.blogspot.com/2008/01/field-east-circuit.html

Mark said...

Thanks Peter, I thought someone would know something. It's not on the latest Mt Field map they sell, but maybe I should have looked more carefully down the side of the road. Must have been looking out for cars at the time. I'll go and walk up it next time. From your description, it sounds more complicated than it ought to be. I see trying to describe this small link occupies about 3/4 of your notes for the whole walk! thanks though.