The plan for the day was to check out a little-known hut above Mountain River in the Huon Valley. We had chosen to take a track that we hadn’t been on before-the Thark Ridge track- and join up to the Montagu Track, which would take us to our intended destination. Unfortunately the road was closed at The Springs due to icy conditions, meaning we were forced to rethink our route. We decided to continue with our original plan, but to start with a quick trip up The Pinnacle Track to the summit then back down the road to the start of Thark Ridge. As Murphy’s Law dictates, The Pinnacle Track was also closed due to track works that are supposed to be completed by August 2018, so we had to take the Sawmill Track up to the Organ Pipes then follow it back down to the start of the Zig Zag Track before reaching the summit. We were in low cloud from the Organ Pipes onward and it made the climb up pretty spectacular. Once on top we were hit by the wind, and the frozen bushes told us a story of the previous night.
We were amused to see that in the hour it took us to walk up, the road had been reopened and people were scurrying around the summit carpark to get a photo before jumping back in their warm cars. I also copped some strange looks for being in shorts in the midst of the wind and flurries of snow. We made our way down the road to the start of the Thark Ridge Track, which begins a few hundred meters up from the Big Bend carpark. For the third time that day we were confronted by a “track closed” sign, but decided to continue on as we had already made it this far. The reason behind the closure was supposedly due to flood damage on the Montagu Track, of which we later found out was not dangerous at all- only comprising of a few areas where branches and rocks had accumulated.
Crossing Thark Ridge was not that memorable thanks to lingering cloud and the occasional shower. What appeared to be fairly recent track upgrades were well done and not over the top, but the ridge proper was probably the most interesting landscape we encountered during the day. A nice little tarn about 70 minutes in can be easily seen from the track and seems to be the only decent source of water. There were a couple of steep drops on the south western side and some large boulders, before a boggy and overgrown marsh had to be traversed. All hope of staying relatively dry went out the window and we pushed ahead through the wet scrub.
After about 1.5 hours we reached the Montagu fire trail and continued past the Mt Montagu track (information about Mt Montagu and Montagu Thumbs can be found here.) Large sections of the trail are overgrown with candle-heath, which had already begun to bloom. We continued past the turnoff to Montagu Thumbs and made our way down towards the hut, which was reached in around 5 minutes. This nice little hut has been built up against a large boulder and has a few bunks, as well as a small wood heater. According to the logbook we were the first visitors in a few months, but could only stop briefly as it was looking likely that we would be walking in the dark and wanted to get back on a clear track before then. Instead of returning the same way, we decided to take the track down to Wellington Falls and return to The Springs via The Milles Track. Head-torches came out just after traversing the Potato Fields and 2 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the hut we reached The Springs.
All up 21kms in 6 hours and 10 minutes with 1009m ascent.