February 20 Woolshed Creek Hut (Day 146)

Today is our first day staying at our new Airbnb in Mt. Somers, a small village in the foothills of the Southern Alps. The nearby Mt. Somers, the actual mountain that is, is volcanic in origin, different rock forms than the nearby Southern Alps which are the result of the eastern Pacific tectonic plate sliding past the western Australian tectonic plate, causing a rise of the alps about 10mm per year, about .394 of an inch! There’s great hiking around the area, established and supported by the Mt. Somers Walkways Society, but now managed by the Department of Conservation. We hiked part of the eastern Mt. Somers Track to Sharplin Falls back on Day 111, Jan. 16. Today we are closer to the western side of the track and drove the 15 minutes to the Woolshed Creek carpark. Immediately when we got out of the car we were enveloped by the sweet, slightly-burnt caramel and rosewater scent of the scale insect infested beech forest covered with black sooty mold. We first encountered this on Dec. 27 Day 91! The hairlike anal tube structures of the insects protrude from the tree trunks and exude drops of sweet nectar that attracts lots of native bees and invasive wasps! We had to be careful as we walked to not smack a bee or wasp! We started on an easy track along Woolshed Creek, walking through the sweet smelling shady forest, then started heading uphill and reached the tangled wreckage of an old ore cart from a coal mining operation further uphill. A steep track continued up to the old mine site which was worked off and on from the late 1800’s to 1968!

Views around the old mine which is now boarded up.

We continued past the mine and emerged from the forest above the treeline to the grass tussock environment in full sun, but thankfully with a cool southern breeze (straight from Antarctica!)

Looking over the ridge down on the Stour River Valley and out towards the Southern Alps with patches of snow visible!

Checking our google maps route and a hiking app map we discovered we were only about a half mile from the Woolshed Creek Hut! We now had a goal! Over another short ridge we spotted the hut down in the valley with the creek flowing in front of it.

The track continued across the creek then divided, going northish and southish.

We saw that the southish track went into a gorge, and was that a suspension bridge down there? (not visible in the picture)

By golly it is! and the narrowest one we’ve encountered yet! Looking up stream you can see Emerald Pool, kind of small because it’s been a pretty dry summer here!

We decided to follow our trail back to the carpark rather than chance the very steep looking loop route! It was mostly downhill back to the car and we were happy to get back into the woods for half of the trip!

Robert pointed out our trail, almost 7 miles round trip!


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