A few weeks had passed between walks and Sunday was gearing up to be a pretty decent day. Originally we had hoped to join Jane and AB again on another walk around Cradle or the Walls; unfortunately I had work on Saturday and couldn’t take it off, which didn’t matter in the end as the trip was cancelled due to some pretty serious weather warnings. Heavy snow falls Friday and Saturday meant that we were somewhat limited with our options. Having not walked in the Lake St Clair area before, we decided to head up that way and summit Little Hugel.
We arrived at the Lake St Clair visitor centre around 9:30 am and set off along the Shadow Lake Track (direction Watersmeet). The walk to Shadow Lake was easy and it took just over an hour and a half to reach the junction to Forgotten Lake. Up until that point, the snow on the track was only around 5cm thick and didn’t slow us down-however, things started to get interesting once we reached the northern side of Shadow Lake.
At this point the track had completely disappeared under a thick blanket of fresh snow and showed no signs of reappearing. We continued toward Forgotten Lake, then followed a sign-posted track up through the forest and to the base of Little Hugel where we sat in the snow for lunch. By the time the pandani started to appear, we were well and truly walking blind. The mist had settled in and the markers were buried under snow, as was the boulder field leading to the summit. There isn’t much to say about to walk to the top from here, except that the snow was very deep and the intended track was almost impossible to follow. The soft powder meant that every movement forward was a slog, and we found ourselves chest deep on many occasions. We were forced to backtrack a couple of times to try and find a slightly easier route up, and also had to refer to the GPS to get our bearings. We arrived at the top just over two hours after leaving the Shadow Lake Circuit Track, including our 10 minute break for some lunch. Unfortunately the mist was still present and we could not see anything beyond 20m. It was a shame as I’m sure the view of Olympus would have been pretty special after the glimpse we got heading out from the visitor centre.
The way back down from Little Hugel was significantly quicker-this was in part due to retracing our steps up, as well as sliding down the steeper rocky sections. We arrived back at the intersection to Forgotten Lake in 1.5 hours and decided to head back along the Shadow Lake Circuit Track, even though it was slightly longer than the way we came in. The sun appeared momentarily, and so did Rufus, giving me no choice but to add it to the ever growing list of places to explore.
All up a solid 19.6kms in 7hours and 7 minutes with a 779m ascent.
Getting there: On the Lyell Highway follow direction to Derwent Bridge/Lake St Clair. Once at the Lake St Clair visitors centre follow the direction of all walking tracks.