2008 Kosciuszko - Ryries and Pretty Plain

summary: Anzac weekend and I'm on my own again. Checking out some foot pads from last trip down Pretty Plain I am sure there is a track from there to Ryries Parlour and across to Grey Mare fire trail.
date: 24-27 April 2008
distance: 50kms
tags: HIKE - SOLO - REPORT - KOSI - RYRIES - 2008
views: 1640

Into the wilderness

The Anzac Day long weekend is often a busy weekend down in Kosiuszko National Park, so this weekends plan was to head down nice early on Thursday so that the rush could be avoided! The premise for this trip was a foot pad that I saw last time we were in Pretty Plain that led up over Jimmies Lookout and possibly on to Ryries Parlour. So I planed the trip around looking for that track from the Ryries Parlor side of the park, across to Pretty Plain.

Night Walkers (7.5kms)

Leaving Wollongong at 1:30pm was a little behind schedule, but with little traffic on the freeway, I quickly made it to Cooma (5:15pm) and then to Round Mountain car park by 7:15pm. Temperatures were already dropping, with 5 degrees being the current outside temperature!

There was no moon at this stage, and the sky was completely clear, dark and full of stars! Preparation was quick, and I was away from the empty car park by 7:45 and heading South along Round Mountain fire trail. There was a smell of fire in the air so I can assume that there had been some burning off nearby. The moon soon rose and cast an eerie orange glow over the valley ahead. The Tumut valley was full of fog when I traversed across the top of the range which gave a very different perspective of the height of the ridge.

I arrived at the first designated camp site around 9:30pm, and there was already a frost appearing on the long grass. There was plenty of flat ground here and water was only 100m down the track. There was no wind either, so conditions could not have been more perfect!

Day 1 – Friday (14.3kms)

Today is Anzac Day, so my thoughts were with everyone else celebrating Australia’s most popular holiday.

The morning was nice and cold with a thick frost over everything. I was up pretty early, and the temperature was only -6 degrees, all my water was frozen and I also found later that my sun-screen was also frozen! But these frosty mornings are what I come to the mountains for, so it was another perfect morning for me!

The morning was a very casual one as I watch the sun unfold the day in front of me, with the frost slowly melting off the grass and my tent! I finished packing up camp and got away at 8:30am. There was a slight breeze blowing, and the sun was shining.

Morning tea was at Dershko’s hut where I arrived at 10:30. The trail was very quiet, with not a soul to be seen. The only thing that stopped me along the track was to listen to the sound of the paper daisies opening up as the sun warmed them. With morning tea out of the way, I continued down Round Mountain FT, which then turns into Grey Mare FT.

I left the trail at midday where I turned to the South West where the Tooma River makes a turn to head for Pretty Plain. Walking to the West of the river provided the best footing, and least amount of Swamp. There were a number of animal tracks here that I followed for a while which uncovered some very good camping areas. I stopped just before 1:00pm as I crossed the Tooma (no boots off!) for a lunch break, and preparation for the ascent to Ryries Parlor.

The climb up to Ryries Parlor was particularly difficult in a number of areas. I think a second attempt at the climb would have me follow a different route. But I eventually made it to the top after about two hours of climbing. The views back towards Mount Jagungal were amazing, and worth the climb just for that.

There are quite a number of camping spots at the top of the ridge. I selected one spot that looks to the East for the morning sun, but then set up my camp fire on the West side for the sunset. The evening was perfect, no wind and not too cold. The sunset wasn’t the best I had seen, but still a nice way to end a good days walk.

Day 2 – Saturday (16.9kms)

Today was always going to be the most difficult of the trip, with approximately 4 kms of off track walking to get from Ryries Parlor to Pretty Plain. I considered the walk a number of times before deciding that it was not going to beat me, so I head off down into the valley at 8:30am. The trail looked very rugged and heavily wooded from the top of the ridge, but as always, things are not as difficult as they seem…at least not at first!

I followed a creek line down the valley, and also a number of animal foot pads. There was a number of really great spots for camping along here, right under the Rocky Bogong Peak. The weather was starting to threaten a little with clouds coming over and looking a little dark. Possible showers had been forecast, and before long, the possibility became certainty!

I was initially thinking I could use Jimmies Lookout as a point of reference so that I had something to navigate by. Unfortunately, I very quickly lost site of it. That made navigation quite difficult, coupled with the thick scrub. I made a couple of wrong decisions along the way that made the walk even more difficult. Although I was never lost (heading due West is pretty easy) I believe I made the walk a lot more difficult than it needed to be. Wildlife along the walk was pretty sparse, except for one very angry funnel web spider that I nearly stepped on!

At one stage I was traversing a very steep cliff face that was heavily wooded, and having to climb over massive dead tree falls. I pushed on though, and eventually made it to the peak of Jimmies Lookout just before 11:30. So at this stage I’d been going for three hours and only made it four kilometers along the trail!! Only half a kilometer to go to Pretty Plain though, which then took another hour to complete!

I eventually arrived at Pretty Plain exactly where I had planned. I stopped on the side of the Tooma River for lunch at around 12:30pm, but only briefly as the rain had started again. Not enough to get me too wet, but enough to stop me from enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the valley! I crossed to the Western side of the Tooma and walked along the well marked track along that side. I went pretty quickly as I wanted to get out of the valley before the weather changed for the worse.

I arrived at the Hell Hole Creek fire trail at 2:15, and took a well earned rest in the glorious sun shine! There is a great camping area here next to the Tooma which had obviously been used last night. There are also signs of Platypus inhabitants on the banks of the river here, so definitely worth a longer stop in the future. Of course the crossing of the Tooma is a boots off affair, so the sun shine was well timed to warm up and dry out my feet.

The climb out of the valley is a very steep one. All the elevation that I lost in the morning, needed to be gained again, and quickly! Several stops were required before I got to the top of the range again. At that point, I decided to keep pushing on for another couple of kilometers before stopping for the night. The weather had been clear but I could see some clouds building up to the West which was bound to hit me at some stage.

I found a great little spot to camp, just off the main trail and with water only a few meters away. I set up camp just after 4:30pm, and after spending a few minutes working out what to do for the evening, the rain started!! So by 5:00pm, I was tucked up in my tent with very little chance of getting out! Before I went to sleep, it rained for a while, then blew for a while, and then hailed! I know the tent can take it though, so I drifted off to sleep and hoped that tomorrow things would be different.

Day 3 – Sunday (12.9kms)

The weather was definitely an improvement when I woke, but it didn’t look like hanging around for long. So I quickly packed up camp before sitting down for breakfast at 7:00am. I was away from camp by 8:00am, but could see the weather closing in behind me.

Shortly after leaving camp I was back on Hell Hole Creek fire trail, and after taking the first couple of photos, my camera decided it was too cold to work and packed it in! Yes it was cold! It was about 5 degrees at this stage but not looking like getting any warmer.

Lucky for me the walk back to the car was a very easy one. First of all I walked back to Round Mountain fire trail which was about 3km from my camp site. Then head off to finish the remaining 10km to the car park.

This is where the weather changed. The cloud closed in, and the hail started. I passed a couple of people on top of the final range that had stopped to take some photos in the fog. It was pretty impressive by I preferred to keep walking as I knew the weather could get a lot worse!

I eventually arrived at the car just after 11:00am, after completing over 13km in 3 hours! It was at this point the weather really did change! While I was in the car changing, my car went from being just a little wet, to being covered in snow!

But the conclusion of this trip is that it was one of the most challenging I’ve had in the park, but of course one of the most rewarding too! And just for a change, it was three days in the park without getting soaking wet!

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