Day 150 – Into The Wild

I apologise for constantly talking about the weather, but for us it’s the biggest variable we face, and can make a huge difference between loving a place, or thinking it’s incredibly dull. So, it was a welcome relief that apart from a few small showers after dinner, it had been a dry evening. The clouds were high in the sky, and in places I could see the faintest hints of blue.

20131010_RCH_3974 20131010_RCH_3975While we waited for the clouds to burn off and for us to be blessed with beautiful sunshine, we went for a quick walk along the Franklin River. The area came into international recognition after a series of protests against proposed dams for hydroelectric generation (as a side note, it’s amazing how many hydroelectric plants/dams are here in Tasmania). Here the river is little more than shallow rapids, but I’m led to believe that it gets quite intense further down. It’s quite a popular place to explore by raft/canoe. It’s not something that I’d ever considered before, but after standing on the edge of the wilderness, I’d love to take a giant leap to see the inside.

20131010_RCH_3976 20131010_RCH_3983The walk was only a short 20-minute loop to where it met with Surprise River (it’s discovery was a surprise) then back to the car park. Just like the cold weather rain forests that we were walking through at Cradle Mountain, there were very few surfaces that weren’t green. Everything looked incredibly lush and soft.

20131010_RCH_3989 20131010_RCH_3993I really wanted to see some of the mountains in the area, including Frenchmans Cap (5-day return hike) and Mt Gell. There was a lookout for Frenchmans Cap a few kilometres back down the road we drove up last night, so we turned around and headed back there. We walked the first 10 minutes of the Frenchmans Cap trail, which included this really excellent bridge. It was incredibly narrow, but for once it actually felt very, very safe/sturdy (though, it did warn against more than a single walker at any time).

The actual lookout for Frenchmans Cap was a little further still. The best place to view it was from Donaghys Hill, which is a 30-minute return hike. But, because we couldn’t see it from the side of the road (due to clouds) we decided it best not to waste time/energy climbing lookouts to see something that was still shrouded in clouds. Sadly, Mt. Gell was also shy today, with its head up in the clouds. It wasn’t to be my lucky day.

20131010_RCH_3997Lake St. Clair is Australia’s deepest (second deepest?) fresh water lake, and is also the end of the epic 80km ‘overland’ track that starts at Cradle Mountain (which I want to do one day, if my recovery returns). There were several fantastic looking hiking options available, but they were quite long, and the weather was predicted to be unpredictable. We had a quick look at the lake, but I doubt this is a very photogenic angle – I’m sure it’s much, much prettier in other locations. There is a ferry that travels to the other side of the lake, which I was keen to do if the weather had been clear…

It wasn’t far after Lake St. Clair that we noticed a dramatic change in the landscape. We were no longer surrounded by dense mossy forests, instead we were back into grazing pastures. Not only that, but the weather was suddenly sunny, and the ground looked quite dry (dry as in no puddles, not as in dusty/brown). It was surprising to see such a marked difference in such a short time, I guess we were now on a different side of a mountain range.

20131010_RCH_3998 20131010_RCH_3999 20131010_RCH_4001We drove through a few quaint towns with their historic buildings. Europeans scoff at our 150 year old historic buildings, but whatever, it’s old for Australia. I was particularly taken by these old wooden buildings. I’d love to know what purpose they previously served… I guessed possibly a shearing shed? But, it seemed too large and too enclosed.

20131010_RCH_4010We headed back into the wild at Mt. Field National Park, stopping first at Russell Falls, which were a short walk from the car park. I’d seen photos of these falls, but I had no idea of the scale. Photos truly don’t do it justice (especially these ones that were being ruined by the huge amounts of mist/spray) as the last drop would have been at least 15m high, with a total drop close to 50m! The spray really was phenomenal, it felt like we were walking through a sprinkler system.

20131010_RCH_4014The trail took us further up the river to another (smaller) set of falls, Horseshoe Falls. We were there just as the sun was illuminating the spray from the falls. Beautifully lush and green, very pretty even though they were a fraction of the size.

20131010_RCH_4017 20131010_RCH_4022 20131010_RCH_4024The walk continued further still up into the hills. We were finally starting to see the giant trees that Tasmania is famous for, the Tasmanian Swamp Gum, which is the world’s tallest flowering plant (California redwoods grow taller, but they don’t flower). This particular one was 79m (as measured by the provided clinometer), but they have been found up to 98m high. Still, at 79m it was incredibly tall, and probably the tallest tree that I have ever seen. It was surprising how slender they are.

20131010_RCH_4031There is a ski-resort 16km from here, so for the sake of having a laugh at it, we drove up there. I’d read on the weather report at Lake St. Clair that snow was predicted tonight from 900m elevation (the resort is well above that), and even so we were incredibly surprised when it started snowing. We’d literally driven 15 minutes from beautiful sunny skies into a full on blizzard! It was incredible. For no reason other than it seemed like a novel thing to do, we decided to spent a night here on top of the mountain… The snow is more like slushy/icy sleet, but still, it’s not something we thought we’d be confronted with on this tour (though, I had joked to Risa that it would snow in Tasmania…). For the first time, we decided to cook dinner (can of soup) inside the car. We’ll be warm enough in bed, but for the hour or so between dinner and getting in to bed, it’s going to be cool. Going to the toilet is also going to be interesting… Looking forward to waking up to a white wonderland tomorrow!

150日目  10月 10日(木) タスマニア4日目 緑の森。

今日は、まず昨晩泊まった、フランクリンリバーという、付近にはほぼ道路もなく、町もない、とてもワイルドな川として有名な川の付近の国立公園のショートウォークへ行ってきました。

この川へアクセスできる道路は、この国立公園の道路のみなので、どんな川より手つかずの自然が残され超ワイルドらしいです。 この川を1週間ほどかけてラフティングをして下って行くというクレイジーなツワモノ達の為の超ワイルドツアーもあるらしい。 ちょうどこないメルボルンで会ってきたサイモンが友達と今年のオーストラリアの夏に挑戦するらしい!
川の水温は、平均8°、、夏でも最高で18°しかならないらしいから劇寒〜。

川沿いの細い獣道のようなトレックは、青々とした葉が茂る木々と、シダ類、木と木の陰になっているので、ほぼ全ての木や石には緑のコケがびっしり生えていて、沢山の古い倒木もコケで覆われ、その倒木には、あたらし生命である小さな草や、中くらいの木でさえ生息していて、こんなにも緑の濃い森は見た事があるだろうかと言う位、ほんとうに一面緑色のとっても美しい、生命のエナジーに溢れた場所です。

午前中は、昨晩の激しい雨も止んだものも、雲が厚くまだどんよりしていた為、フレンチマンズキャップというフランス人の帽子なんて面白い名前のついた山はみることができませんでした。 こ野山の頂上付近は、白っぽい岩でできているらしく、ベレー帽のような形をしていて、1年中雪が降り積もっているように見えるそうです。

その後は、聖クレア湖を散策。 この頃には、お天気が回復し、なんと青空が広がっていました。 でも風は冷たいので、お天気がいいとはいえ寒い〜!

ここは、ちらっとしか見てないけど、キレイだけど特に印象的な点はないかなー。
この辺りにはタスマニアデビルが生息しているらしいけど、近年は、このタスマニアデビルの中で顔にできるガンが蔓延しているそうで、交通事故の他に、これも生態の危機へ追いやっている1つの大きな要因らしいですが、この病気のメカニズムと対処法は、まだよく分かっていないそうです。

その後は、Russell Fallsという滝がある国立公園へ。

この滝への20分程のウォークは、朝に行ったフランクリンリバーと同じ様にとても緑の濃い場所で、ここはかなり背の高いガムツリーという木も生息していて、この辺りで最大のものは、98mだそうです。 私たちは、79mの木を見る事ができました。

大きな倒木もありましたが、この倒木の根は、ロスと同じ位の大きなものでした。

滝は、思っていたよりもかなり大きく、水しぶきが豪快に飛びちっていました。  夏なら気持ちがよいだろうけど、今は、ただひたすら寒い。

人工的な巨大な階段の上を水がすごい勢いで落下してくるような迫力のある滝です。
その滝の中流には、木が生えてますが、こんな流れの急な場所にどうやって種が落ちついいて育つ事ができたのだろう。。不思議。

滝を上から見る為に今度は、30分程かけての登山。 ちょっとおとといのハイキングでふくらはぎがイタいのと、寒いのでちょっと勘弁だったけど、ちょうど良く陽がさし、おとぎ話の挿絵のようなちょっと幻想的な風景に出会える事ができました。

その後は、友だちに教えてもらった、この滝の上の山道をひたすら車でドライブしていくとスキー場があるらしいので、そこへ行ってみることに。

車を走らせる事20分。10kmほどでなんと!!!!!

雪が降ってきた!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

天気予報では、もしかすると900m以上の場所では雪が降るかもしれないとは予想されてはいたけど、まさか本当に降るとは、、、

2日前にオーストラリアで初めての雪を見たけど、まさか雪が目の前で降ることになるとは、、、、

雪は、みぞれとはいえ、窓ガラスにちょっと積もってきました。 そんな寒さなので今晩は、缶のスープとアスパラを車内でゆでてディナー。  その残ったお湯は私の湯たんぽに入れて暖をとります。

車内は、あったかい格好をしてればそこまで寒くないし、布団はかなりあったかいので、大丈夫だろうけど、外が吹雪ってかなり久しぶりだし、しかもここオーストラリアだし、ちょっと不安な気分にさせられます。

この辺りは、1週間の山でキャンプをしながらハイキングしている人が結構いるので、そんなハイキングしてるみなさん、無事を祈ります。

今日は、早めに布団に入ってリラックスしよー。

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