Lees Paddocks Circuit

Some shots from a bit of an erratic circuit a friend and myself had a crack at last February.

We started off at Lees Paddocks in the Upper Mersey Valley, before climbing the ‘Venetian Blind Track’ (weird name for a track) up to Reedy Lake and then to the eastern end of Lake Ayr, where it joined with the popular Arm River Track. It was then a pretty short and flat wander beside the Lake until we reached the Pelion Plains and Pelion Palace (New Pelion Hut) – the central and largest hut on the Overland Track.

Due to weather we ended up doing none of the planned side-trips here and basically lounged around for a couple of nights… Nice place for a quiet read though! Day Three dawned and there was no improvement in weather, but we had to move on if we were to keep to the schedule, so it was onward and upward to Pelion Gap and then down to Kio Ora Hut, another OLT shelter.

Weather actually got worse as we crossed the Gap, and we were belted with a mixture of snow and sleet – Mt Ossa was definitely off for the day… On arrival at KO we were greeted by a whole bunch of indies (‘independent walkers’ – guide-speak) who were keen as mustard to pick our collective brains and tells us all about how the Milford Track “…doesn’t have weather like this…” So we decided to bail and run off for an explore, Erica being pretty keen to check out Cathedral Falls – a waterfall downstream of the popular OLT falls and a bit off the beaten track. It’s a bit of a mission to get there, with a lot of walking along very high, very undercut ledges, but on when we got there… Wow. Very impressive sight as the water thunders through a gap in the rainforest canopy, with neither the top or bottom visible!

Getting back to KO was made a bit more interesting by one of the always-successful “lets take a short-cut rather than the track” ideas… I blame Erica. Anyway, we were off to bed early to discover than tent-platforms a: provide no thermal mass – therefore freezing, and b: reflect all rain under the tent outer and onto the tent inner – therefore wet tent. They may be fantastic for erosion control, but gees they’re shit to stick a tent on…

Woke up on the morning of Day #4 to a bit of snow on the tent and a lot more on the mountains, and a slightly panicky feeling knowing that we had a couple of reasonably sized creeks to cross that day. We plunged down the KO – Lees Paddocks ‘track’ (not really a track – it’s taped sometimes but we lost it in no time flat…) and were before to long confronted with the Kia Ora Creek – a usually sedate stream that was packed with snow-melt and roaring… Fun times crawling across a mouldy log with full packs!

Before we knew it we were back in Lees Paddocks, then just a straight-forward two hour stroll back to the cars and civilisation!

All images shot on the Olympus E-3 and Zuiko Digital 12-60/f2.8-4 SWD. Incidentally, this would be the last time I’d use this set-up on a serious walk.

Ferns in the Upper Mersey Valley

Dean's Bluff

Lees Paddocks Hut #1

Gums on the Pelion Plains

Mt Oakleigh through the mist

Mountain Bluebell

Silver Banksia

Cathedral Falls

Mt Pelion East after nighttime snow

Erica negotiating a flooded Kia Ora Creek

Back in the Paddocks - Erica looking bedraggled with Mt Pillanger behind

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