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Monday 17 February 2003
Rees-Dart Track (Day 2)
|Rees-Dart Track in Beech Rainforest|
The sky was overcast in the morning. By the time I left (9:00) it was very lightly raining. I had my raingear on and it didn’t come off all day.
The track followed the Rees as it got smaller and smaller up the valley. Even with the light rain, the views were fairly good of the mountains. As I got close to the Rees saddle, the wind picked up considerably, and at the bottom of the saddle climb, an enormous gust knocked me off my feet and ripped my pack cover off my pack. I had to drop my pack and chase it for about 100m.
The climb to the saddle was fine, but as I rounded the top to the Dart river side, the wind was unbelievably strong (100km/h+ - the Daleys Flat hut board said 120km/h). I sheltered behind a ridge and had a snack before continuing. Coming down Snowy Creek was made very difficult by the wind and rain. At some points when I rounded a ridgeline, the wind was so strong that even leaning right forward with my foot braced way behind me, it was as much as I could do to stand still, let alone move forward. The light rain may have turned icy, I’m not sure, but either way, it stung the face when it hit, meaning I had to keep my head down during the gusts, since getting hit in the eyes hurt. Looking across and up and down the Snowy Creek valley I could see very large snow capped mountains, and between them and me, the rain, which was moving completely horizontally. I could now see why nothing tall grew here – When the wing gusted, I had to crouch down and use my hands on the track or on the grasses to move forward.
Finally the track descended and crossed Snowy Creek on a swing bridge. The other side of the valley was quite a bit less windy, also because I was lower. There the track went through patches of spear grass which was rather uncomfortable, like spinifex. Finally we reached the Dart river and the Dart hut (I walked the last little bit with some other Aussies I’d met in the hut last night.) It was 1:30 when I reached the Dart hut. It was closed for rebuilding, which was why I’d brought my tent. There was still an occasional medium strength gust of wind and it was still raining. I looked at the map and track notes, and decided I didn’t really feel like camping in the rain. A nice warm dry hut would be better. So at 2:00 I set off for Daleys?? Flat Hut – at least 15km away. I felt pretty good as I walked through the beech forest, however, at Cattle Flat, the rain became stronger, and the ‘Flat’ was cut by many rivers making it mostly up and down, not flat.
At the end of Cattle Flat, was a sign saying 4-5 hours to dart hut, I had done it in 2½ , so figured the 2-3 hours it said to Daleys?? Flat would be less – unfortunately I was wrong. Walking through beech again, I could see why there were sections where everything was covered in moss – the ground, rocks, trees, logs etc. It was as though a thick green rug had been thrown over the ground. It was there because of the rain. The water started getting into my jacket and pants, and my boots filled up. Eventually I crossed a flat where I could see a building – I thought it was the hut, but it was just a shed – three quarters of an hour later (6:20) I finally reached the hut. I was very wet and very cold. Fortunately my gear wasn’t, thanks to the pack cover and plastic bags. I warmed up after some hot food and drink, but the hut was absolutely packed ( ~30 people, 20 beds) with people stranded by the rain. They were a bit amazed how far I’d come. I got a fairly good nights sleep considering I slept on a hard wood floor (with a thin Therma-rest).