Ducane Range 2016
The DuCane Range
This was the inaugural 'Adventure Weekend' that myself and best mate Woolza had come up with. We made a decision to get a bunch of mates together and do a great walk once a year over 2 or 3 nights at a great location. The location also needed to have mountains to climb (preferably ones we hadn't done before). It was to be an annual event with no more than 10 hikers. The call was put out and six people had put their hands up. The planning began...
The initial plan had been to head to the Central Plateau and Lake Nameless but the extensive fires across the state had put the kibosh on pretty much any hike in that area as well as the west coast, south west and pretty much everywhere else. There was one other option though; a return to The Labyrinth at the southern end of Cradle Mountain/Lake St. Clair National Park. We had done a similar trip there a few years before. Given all of the track closures, this was pretty much the only option available to us, so back to the Labyrinth it was...
Most of the team had assembled in Derwent Bridge the night before. We stayed in the single bed, single room backpackers accommodation at the Derwent Bridge Hotel and it was all good. We got up early and rendezvoused with the rest of the crew to catch the 9am ferry across Lake St. Clair to Narcissus. The weather was magnificent and the lake like a mill pond. We made it to Narcissus in quick time and before we knew it we were off on our way up the very familiar track towards Windy Ridge and then Pine Valley. We made it to Pine Valley in time for some lunch and were back on our way in no time. The weather stayed good and by mid afternoon we were back at our previous campsite at Lake Elysia. An absolute gem in terms of campsites, we quickly took up residence on our lake side rock/kitchen for pre-dinner drinks then dinner. We spent the evening drinking fine wine and doing some astrophotography. Good times.
DAY 1: 14.15km, 6hrs 4min
We awoke to clear blue skies. We were clearly in for another cracking day. After a relaxing breakfast by the lake we headed off early. The plan today was to get up the northern peak of Mt Geryon and then, later on, Mt Hyperion. Geryon would be a new one for all of us. We had previously gotten close but not to the top.
We were on our way and heading over familiar ground. It wasn't long before we were passing by the Pool of Memories and on our way up towards the Du Cane Range. After a few hours we were on the final ascent to the northern peak of Mt. Geryon. The climb was awesome and relatively easy, when the correct route was taken. There were a couple of sections on the climb where the track split (especially on the final climb where an incorrect and obvious route lead to the left) but once the correct route was found (to the right around the base of a cliff), it was an easy ramble up a gully to the summit. Once on top we took in the views, some photos and then made our way back down the peak. We took the same route back for about half an hour then head lunch on the summit of Du Cane range looking straight across to Geryon. We had dined here before and the view certainly hadn't deteriorated.
After lunch we split into two groups. Half the team, headed back to camp while the rest of us travelled onwards to Mt. Hyperion. The weather was spectacular and hot and the views unreal! We made quick progress down to Lake Helios and then up the rocky slabs towards the peak. Within a couple of hours of departing the group we were on the summit taking in the views. This was my first visit to the summit of Hyperion. Having guided down the Overland Track some 40-something times, it had always been on my list of peaks to climb. Finally I was there. We took some time on top and Ivo even brought a mini-kite along to fly from the summit. We radioed back to the rest of the crew (now back at camp) and they could see it flying! Awesome. After the festivities, we descended and were back down to Lake Helios in no time. From there, we made our way back down to Lake Elysia for an afternoon swim and another relaxing even in wilderness paradise. What a day....
DAY 2: 13.16km, 8hrs 7mins
Today saw the sun rise on another beautiful, but slightly overcast, day. The previous evening after taking my boots off, I discovered what I had been fearing; blisters. Unbelievable. I thought I had felt something during the day but didn't worry about it. When I got the boots off it was worse than I thought. The same thing had occurred on my previous trip to Du Cane and I was not happy. This also meant that I would have to exit out to Narcissus the way we came. Bugger... Why? Well, half the group were going to head out via a different route, a route I was very keen on doing but today I would not be joining them. So, back via Pine Valley for me, at least it meant I could hang back and relax for a while.
Half the team got away early and started on their way towards Mt. Gould. They would be travelling via the Minotaur, Gould and Gould Plateau to Narcissus before meeting us there to catch the 1pm ferry. They headed off while we finished packing and we then started on our way back. When we got to the descent to Pine Valley we radioed to the Gould team. They were on the summit. We got to a position where we could see the peak and sure enough we could see Ivo flying his kite! Crazy! After a quick conversation with them, we continued on and within a few hours were back on the lake's edge at Narcissus. We were early so we had a couple of hours to swim and relax. I'd spent a lot of time here before and didn't mind a few more hours kicking back in the sun. My feet had been hurting and when I took my boots off the blisters had gotten worse. I had made the right decision. Shortly after arriving we got word from the Gould team - they had only just reached the plateau after some serious scrub bashing and were going to be a little while yet. What they described in terms of scrub did not sound pleasant, the lakeside option was now feeling good!
We lazed about for another hour and just as the boat could be heard in the distance the Gould team arrived! They were pretty banged up but stoked to have made the traverse. Everyone had a quick swim in the lake and then the boat arrived and we were on our way back home. Another mill pond day on Lake St. Clair and back to the cars. We stopped at Derwent Bridge's famous 'Hungry Wombat' for a quick burger and debrief before closing the first Annual Adventure Weekend.
DAY 3 (via Pine Valley): 14.98km, 4hrs 39mins
DAY 3 (via Gould): 13.32km, 6hrs