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Friday, April 23, 2004

Frenchmans Cap Hike - Day 4 - out to Derwent Bridge

It was still raining when we woke, not hard, but steady.
David and Jenna were umming and ahhing about going for the summit due to the weather. Gaye and I decided to hike out despite the weather, since it could be the same tomorrow,, and we didn't particularly want to be hut bound for a day.
I didn't bother with rain pants, due to the mud, so my legs and hands were soon very cold. We walked back through the pretty rainforest to Philps Creek, which was now much higher than a few days ago. It was now a rushing river, not a quiet stream.

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Now we entered the dreaded mud of the Philps lead, then the Loddon Plains. Again the first half of the Philps Lead and the last third of the Loddon Plains were not as bad. The difference though was that the entire track was now either a creek or a lake, in most places there was an additional 10 30cm of water covering the track and mud holes. It made it easier to follow the good parts, since the water ran quickly over the harder parts of the track, but on the boggy sections, of which there are scores, the extra water obscured how bad the mud was. I stumbled many times when the mud / water went from a few centimetres deep to knee or thigh deep in one step, without warning. The mud was up to my shorts on several occasions, and even when it was shallow, it was often slippery, making balance very difficult.
With the rain and cold weather, the plains were a bit of a march, and we were both very cold when we reached the end of the mud at the Loddon River. I pulled out my stove, and we had a cuppa soup to try to warm up a bit. This was a good idea, as my fingers were getting very sluggish and fumbly.

The mud didn't completely end at the Loddon Bridge, as the rain had turned several more sections into a mire, but nothing like the plains, and nothing over ankle deep. The Loddon River was very swollen as were a large number of little creeks as we climbed up from the Loddon River.
The rainforest was quite beautiful as we came down into the Franklin River valley. At the Phytophthora washdown station, I cleaned out an enormous amount of mud out of my boots and socks, and picked a leech of my leg.

Soon we could hear the Franklin River, and see the road, and knew we were almost there. The Franklin was very swollen compared to the first day I don't think I would want to raft it when it was like that.
It was a relief to reach the car and put on some dry clothes, as the days hike had been somewhat of a march, but we had conqured the "Sodden Loddens".

We drove to the hotel at Derwent Bridge (near Lake St Clair) to check prices, then to Lake St Clair, where we had a bear and hot chips before deciding that the Derwent River Hotel had the better deal, since their rooms were $25 for a single room, compared to $25 for a dorm at Lake St Clair.
I felt much better after a shower and a shave, and we went to the bar / restaurant for some beer and dinner. The bar / restaurant is huge, and had a nice log fire, and was very rustic, but nice.
I felt like a night owl, staying up to 10pm, as the last week or so, especially the last few days has seen us going to bed about 7pm! I was trying to figure out where to go, as we were going to split up tomorrow. I decided to go back to Hobart for some R&R and to resupply.

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