Party: Martin Hoser, Sophie Corbett, Jonno Downes (Leader)
One day I will lead an SUBW walk where we actually take the route as advertised. Today was not that day.
After my original plans for this weekend got rained out, I put up a very short notice walk, asking for volunteers to join me on a walk to descend Kedumba Valley Road from the Bonanza Gates on Kings Tableleand, cross Kedumba River, and climb up the Col to have lunch on Mt Solitary, and then return.
I got one email notifying a signup from Martin, and another from David Noble pointing out that the river was likely to be impassable. Realising this was probably true, and thinking just going down to the river and returning may be a bit boring, we left one car at the Bonanza gates then drove out Kings tableland road a few KM further and headed out on the Lions Head track.
The track was very well groomed, and the views of from Lions Head ridge are magnificent, but Martin will just have to take my word for it, since the mizzle had reduced visibility to about 11 inches. We had a short break at the huge cairn the marks the top of the steep gully through which the Lions Head pass descends, during which the first leech of the day was spotted. It would not be the last 🙁
The track pretty much disappears once you are through the cliff line and on to the open ridges, although the walking is easy apart from a few sections where you need to pick your footing through fern covered boulders. We picked up an old fire trail soon enough, which took us most of the way to the campsite and the ruins of the old farmhouse at Kedumba Crossing.
The river was flowing very strongly, and the water level indicators showed the depth was 90CM over the ford, so we abandoned any last hope of ascending Mt Solitary and started picking our way upstream to the point where the Solitary walking track crosses the river. For the first KM or so we were able to follow an easy footpad along the bank, but then came the first of a couple of ridge crossings – the second KM took a lot a longer.
When we eventually reached the spot where the Solitary walking track crosses over, I didn’t recognise it. I had been looking for a big log across the river. But after seeing a metal disc nailed to a tree I realised where we were, and eventually spotted a few cm of wood sticking out above the brown and turbulent flow.
We had another meal break, and dispatched countless leeches, then followed the walking track (steep but in fine condition) up to the Sublime Ridge fire trail, turned right and then when we reached Kedumba Valley Road, turned right again as I was keen to have a look for the “Goats Track”. I had seen some photos and had an idea of which ridge it followed, so figured we would see if we could spot where it crossed the fire trail somewhere near the locked gate. But when we got near the gate, the thought of walking further down the road became less appealing than the thought of hiking up the ridge, so we just bush bashed up in the hope we would spot some evidence of the track.
When we hit the top of the ridge, Sophie said she saw some kind of track, I was sceptical myself but I really don’t like walking on roads so was happy to humour her. As the ridge line got steeper and turned into a gully, we saw occasional broken branches or displaced leaves that were probably made by wombats or heavy rain but in our fervent desire to get to the damn top already we took as positive confirmation that we really were on some kind of track. Martin was stoicly silent, but I am sure he must have been wondering what he had got himself into, especially when we were scrambling up a steep and not very dry waterfall. I was wondering myself, as the cliff lines above us loomed taller and taller. But suddenly – hope was restored in the form of a short black rope, dangling jauntily from the base of a tree, to assist in a tricky scramble up and across a waterfall. Yahoo! And after ascending that, we sidled around another mini cliff line and spotted another black tape hanging down another cliff face, only about 2M too short to be useful. A nearby tree was conscripted into reducing the distance between hand and tape; the tree got it’s own back by unleashing a largish lizard just near Sophie’s face as she was about to cross from tree to rock.
And just past that, the road. We climbed up the ridge little further, and had our final lolly break at the Cleary Memorial, then one last road bash to the car. By this stage the clouds had lifted and we even got some views along the way. Another great day walking in the mountains…