Saturday, 23 March 2013
Pelion Hut to the Mersey Forest Road - 18th January 2013
Predictably it dawned rainy. So, no mountains, and the vision of a hamburger at Deloraine formed. While the Overland Trackers headed off to Pelion Gap in full wet weather gear, I headed along the Arm River Track. I haven't used this before, so it was all new. The track is well made, and is largely duckboard. At the far end of Lake Ayr there is a remote area logbook. Here, the route to Lees Paddocks heads to the right.
As Chapman says, it heads along the edge of the button grass plain, and is easily followed. It then however becomes indistinct as it climbs onto a small ridge. As expected, I lost it. It's not a major problem, as long as you have a compass, and you can pick the approximate direction and will emerge beyond the hill and trees and can cast about for the actual track. I was keen to actually find the correct route, and ended up on the ridge wandering about in the scrub just as the rain came down most heavily, looking for the actual track over the top. In the end I gave up, took a compass bearing and emerged about 50m from where the far end of the track was marked as it entered the trees. Interestingly, I found that in the rain and mist, the forest was quite disorienting - I had trouble with directions after wandering about for a short time. So, the message is, yes, as Chapman says, the short bit of the Lees Paddocks Track over the ridge is "indistinct", and, always carry a compass!
From there the track to Lees Hut is clear. You pass Reedy Lake, and then start to descend, eventually quite steeply through lovely myrtle forest, emerging on the paddocks near Lees Hut. The hut is visible from where the track emerges. The day I was there, two gentlemen from Devonport were in residence, and generously made a cup of coffee for a soggy bushwalker. They were friends of the current lessee of the paddocks. They expected him to arrive the following day on horseback, whereupon they would all be doing some spraying for thistles. Nearby 19 head of cattle munched away.
I was directed towards the track, and had a look at the "bridge" over nearby Wurragarra Creek. This resembled a narrow sloped skating rink, with grip-giving barbed wire nailed on only the lower, and far, end of it. I waded the very low creek. The chaps at the hut had said something non-committal about "fixing" the bridge, but I think that was more about ensuring the continued attachment of the ends of the bridge to the banks of the creek.
The Lees Paddocks Track from here is obviously well known to northern walkers, and is well trodden by both them and the cattle. In a number of places the cattle have made a quagmire, but in general there's a walkway around it. I made one impromptu sidetrip when I failed to note the actual continuation of the track and instead found myself at Oxley Falls. Not realising that I wasn't on the main track any longer, I was a little bemused for some time to find that the track didn't continue beyond where the falls could be viewed. This was the last time I was "lost" on this trip, and it took me a little while to work out that I must have missed the proper route some hundreds of metres earlier. The rest of the walk was uneventful.