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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

The Many Shelter Rocks (Rees Dart)

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

This is usually where I'd put an introduction, give a little insight to where I'm at and what I've been doing... But we have a lot of material to get through so let's dive right in.


The Rees Dart track is a sixty kilometer point to point in Glenorchy, essentially bordering Mt Earnslaw and it's neighbouring peaks.


I dropped my car at the Chinaman's Flat Carpark on the morning of Easter Friday, I was listening ( singing ) to the new release from Dead Favours having a good old time.

Billy and his girlfriend picked me up and

We took their car to the Muddy Creek Carpark.

It didn't take me long to realize this valley was exactly where I wanted to be.



The sun was strong but there must've been a bit of rain here recently and muddy creek was just that😅

The three of us did our best to keep clean, Billy's girlfriend walked with us for a few hours before heading back through the wetlands after lunch.

For Billy and I it was the first of four days, and I do my best to pack light🙃



Light means essentially just having moving clothes and resting clothes.

A deceivingly deep patch of mud ate one of my moving socks but my boot cleaned up well.

You wouldn't believe what a laundromat costs out here😂


What I really liked about this trip was the variety, from open plains to bush walks and alpine terrain seasoned with stream crossings to keep things interesting.


The second half of the day was more bush orientatated, this was a great place to waste good time looking for a better time 🍄🍄

Sadly time was just wasted😅


Our first night would be spent at Shelter Rock Hut, naturally this had us curious as to which rock in particular was it's namesake.

Our first guess was this tunnel in the middle of the track ⏬



By the end of the track I couldn't tell you how many Shelter Rocks there were but I'm sure they've provided for many a traveler, I also couldn't tell you how many times the words Shelter Rock were uttered😂



The hut was toasty, boots were stacked around the fireplace and I was quick to claim some real estate.

I slipped into my Crocs and began to unwind, chatting with other hikers before taking myself to bed just after eight o'clock.



Day two was ambitious, we wanted to reach Dart Hut early, drop our packs and head up to Cascade Saddle.

This is usually a two day thing but don't tell me what to do😂


We were the first to leave that morning and had to reach the Rees Saddle before we could think about Cascade.

We were joined by a Frenchman,

He liked our plan but was umming and ahhing about whether he would continue past the hut with us.


 

Smoko on top of the Rees Saddle went down a treat, now out of the valley we had a slight breeze passing by and the views👌🏽


Dart Hut is downstream behind Mount Cunningham which you can see pictured above, we were past our halfway point and I felt good.


Descending into the Dart Valley took longer than expected, the weight of my pack combined with temperamental legs from the gym earlier in the week really wore on me😅


 

We reached the hut at mid-day, taking our pick of bunks and switching to day packs.

These were loaded up with a little food and water along with a head torch, after all we were starting an eight hour round trip early in the afternoon 🤷🏻‍♂️😂



There were a few rivers to cheat but the start of this route was easy walking, it took just a couple of hours to reach the basin below the Reid & Dart Glaciers.


 

Ascending the Saddle kicked the absolute shit out me, my legs seemed to have gotten their affairs in order and proceeded to die🤦🏻‍♂️😅


It was steep, it was rocky and I was annoyed at myself for falling so far behind 😒

Billy seemed to take this climb in stride, I was not doing so well.

Resorting to all fours at times, I'm not sure a track has ever hit me so hard.


I just wanted to see some more mountains🤷🏻‍♂️😂


 

It took me a few minutes to get myself together once I'd reached the top, although I did use what little energy I had left to let out a mighty "Fuuuuuuck yeah" 👌🏻


Just like that I felt so far removed from the exhaustion that had recently overcome me, the death of my legs had not been in vain.


I took a sickening amount of photos from the top of Cascade, they filtered down to a handful that I'm about to spam you with😂

Including a perfectly timed action shot of Billy👌🏿



I think action shots are the way to go👌🏻

I hate posing for photos, I never know what to do.

But I'm pretty sure I can do a handspring flip😂


As the sun sunk below dart glacier we made our way back to the valley floor, under the watchful eye of my favourite arch enemy the Kea🧐


Twilight crept on as we dropped into the basin, Billy had gotten quite a lead on me but I wasn't too concerned about what time I got back.

Sometimes it just doesn't matter🤷🏻‍♂️

What's an extra half hour at this point?


Honestly it was a good wind down after a big day, the feeling that comes from really exhausting yourself can be extremely rewarding.


I snapped this picture of the most impressive cairn I've ever seen👌🏽

That's my contribution on the very top.



The stream crossings were fun under head torch and we both kept dry feet, making it back to the hut just before half eight.

A couple of people were relieved to see us, they were a little skeptical of our plan initially 😅


One of these kind souls was good enough to give me some dinner, left over rice never tasted so good and I think she was just happy not to carry any extra weight the next day so it was a win win😂


We decided to play the next day by ear,

There was no need to rush.

The hardest day was done and to the next hut was a fairly chill walk.


It's so nice to just wake up when you wake up🤷🏻‍♂️

My body clock doesn't let me sleep in too much but I woke up feeling refreshed without an alarm👌🏻🥱


We were the last to leave the next morning and knew if we were last to arrive at the next hut we might be short a bunk but as long as I had a shelter I was happy, we brought sleeping mats just in case.


 

The first hour or so was through the bush until we reached Cattle Flats, a riverside plain home to what I thought could be home for the night🤔



I'd Never slept in a Rock Bivouac before and had seen this on the map earlier that week.

However there were a couple of problems with this one in particular, the sandflies had taken over and logistically it was poorly placed.

Staying here would add about three hours to our last day🤦🏻‍♂️


Though worth a look, it was just a pit stop.

A chance to snack and chat to a group we'd been playing leapfrog with all weekend.


Shortly after getting on our way nature called😅

As I took care of business I was beyond conscious of this group passing by somewhere through the trees, I was so paranoid😅

None of us want the other to see that😂



Between leaving the Cattle Flat Rock Biv and the oncoming forest the temperature dropped noticably.

We had expected rain that night through to the next day, nothing crazy but enough to want a decent shelter.


I'd taken an edible with lunch and was plotting along in a bit of a trance when I stumbled across a hidden gem.


Another Rock Bivouac just meters from the track, this one wasn't on the map but looked exactly as I imagined and I was immediately convinced this is where we would spend the night.


Billy was a little hesitant but it was in a much better spot, I think the edible had gotten to him too so I tried to persuade him with the offer of a hot choccy 😅

I might as well get a little fire going, and take another edible too🤷🏻‍♂️


I knew he liked that rock, he just didn't want to wake up in the rain.

That was a risk I was willing to take and I'm so glad I did👌🏿


 

I felt so in touch with myself, scouting out a stream then collecting firewood.

Munging out under this gigantic rock that had balanced here for god knows long.


We ate, pondered and sipped hot drinks into the night before smothering the fire and fading off to sleep.

My sleeping bag was still far too hot even outside but it's not the worst problem to have🤷🏻‍♂️



The next morning it was raining but I woke up dry and ready to make the next milestone, sadly without my raincoat🤦🏻‍♂️

If you see it let me know😂


Daley's Flat Hut was a short walk and a good spot to dry off for a bit before covering the next five or so hours out to the truck.



Daley's was probably full the night before but everyone was long gone by the time we arrived mid morning Monday.

I medicated with a sachet coffee and took advantage of the flush toilets ( these huts are fancy👌🏻)


There were breaks in the weather after we left the hut but we were still deep in the valley, splotches of colour every now and then kept me optimistic 😁



I was thankful by this point most of our journey was either flat or slightly down hill.

There was one section that climbed a bit of altitude, it was signposted with a warning but made easy with stairs and even hand rails by the drop off.

Personally I thought this was a bit of an overkill but something may have happened once upon a time to prompt it.



The closer we got to Chinaman's Flat the weather only improved, by this point we had both engaged autopilot and were looking forward to a hearty meal back in civilization 🍽️👑


 
 

Curious birds, pesky sandflies and open skies saw us out as we approached the car.


Another weekend well spent comes to an end, eighty something kilometers including our Cascade Saddle side quest had worked up one hell of an appetite and a steakhouse in Queenstown seemed a fitting way to sign off.

Forget a public holiday surcharge, I'd have paid double for a hot plate and a cold beer.


Now I just have to clean up these boots and get em' ready for next time, until then🙋🏻‍♂️

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