March 17th
Bronte Lagoon-Lake Tahune Hut

I slept great in the crisp cold air at Bronte Lagoon. It was in the upper 30sF/3.9C and I was oh so comfy in my sleeping bag this morning and fleece top. Good news was that we were packing up for a drive in a heated car! I could totally get used to this! It was about an hour to the trailhead for our overnight to Frenchmans Cap. 

I won’t detail much about the hike as it is a really straight forward up and down to quite a scenic summit. Understandably, this will be a photo heavy post. It is 13.4mi/21.5km to the top and I’m really not sure how much elevation gain there was. We started at 8:45am while the cold fog had still yet to lift. There was a lot of recent trail work that we benefitted from. In 2008, a man decided to donate a million dollars towards the improvement of Frenchmans Cap. He agreed to give $100,000 every year for 10yrs with the agreement that the Tasmanian Government will contribute an additional $50,000 each year. Pretty incredible, and we saw a ton of nice work on a trail that used to be quite rough and muddy. Pretty great! 

The terrain was quite gradual, even with stretches of downhill a couple times, and mostly forested. The brush held a lot of cold water, so that wasn’t very pleasant the first half of the morning until the sun reached the trail and warmed things up a bit. 

Firsts views of the range we’re headed to once the fog lifted.

We made it to Vera Lake Hut around noon for lunch. Many hikers stay at the hut and use it as a base camp the following day to take day packs up to the summit of Frenchmans Cap and back. 

There is another hut 4mi/6km further and just 1km from the summit that was more ideal for our timing, but it is closed because there is a trail crew staying there to prepare for a new hut that will be constructed. We took our full packs with us and headed towards the last 4mi/7km to the top figuring we’d find camping somewhere, possibly get lucky and get to stay at the hut near the top, or we’d just return all the way to Vera Lake Hut. This portion of the trail was steeper and slow going with terrain of wet roots and rocks before breaking out to great views at Barron Pass. 

On the way up, we ran into a ranger that had just cleaned the Lake Tahune Hut, where the trail crew was staying. Since it was a Friday, the crew was gone maybe for the weekend, so he let us know we could stay in the hut. Perfect timing! We had the 16 person hut all to ourselves since the other half dozen people we’d seen on the trail were stopping at the first hut thinking this one was closed. We left the bulk of our things in the hut, and headed up the final 1km to the top. It was a fun final stretch with some scrambling required. 

The views up top are some of the best we may see our whole trip. Each direction seemed to have a completely different view. They say sunrise up there is pretty nice, but it can often get socked in by fog. It was also going to be quite a cold night, so we stayed up there a good 45mins just relaxing and taking advantage of phone reception before returning to the hut. 

The hike down was enjoyable and we were back at Lake Tahune Hut by 6pm. It got colder as the evening came, but the hut remained quite warm after a day of sun on it that came through the skylights on the roof of the hut. It was great to be done early, and we both got to watch shows. Griggs finished the most recent season of Orange Is The New Black, and I just started the second season of Downton Abby. Hard to find a nicer way to spend a day, hiking and ending in a warm hut all to ourselves early enough to relax with shows before bed. Not bad at all. 

Know that it doesn’t elude me how fortunate I am to be able to have such days, and to have had this freedom to travel so much in recent years. It’s still surreal to me, and I often feel like it isn’t even me, but someone else I’m vicariously experiencing this all through…because it can’t be me. I am grateful. 

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