Expectations and Frenchmans Cap

(I drafted this months ago then decided it wasn’t worth posting. But with the Frenchmans Cap slide night coming up next week it has new relevance, so here it is.)

I was supposed to climb Frenchmans Cap in February 1973 after doing the Overland Track with some friends from my Uni bushwalking club. However I suffered badly from gastric lurgy on that first walk so recovered in Hobart while my mates did the walk and came back with tales of the Sodden Lodden.

Next chance was in April 2004 with our kids aged 16 & 20, when the Lodden was just as sodden as ever. But the mud was a source of laughter rather than irritation and we had a great time.

Team effort

By 2021 it was time to have another go. The Lodden was reportedly no longer sodden after major track improvements so we had expectations of a relatively easy trip. But expectations can be a curse. It turned out that only some things had changed and others were the same or worse. The Lodden was indeed now vastly improved and the new Tahune Hut is wonderful. But the track beyond Lake Vera was unchanged, just as rough and difficult as ever. And in worse shape? … bodies now 17 years older.

It was not a bad trip by any means, far from it, but my incorrect expectations messed with my head and enjoyment at times.

The great and the good:

  • Reflections in the perfect mirror of Lake Tahune early in the morning – stunning
  • Lake Tahune hut, brilliantly designed for warmth and comfort, and because we have our own micro-hydro generator I was very interested in the hydro generator far below the hut (quite hard to find and get to, not many people go there I think)
  • Views from Barron Pass, in every direction plus up and down
  • Expanding views and changing perspectives of the surrounding terrain as we gained height on the climb towards the summit
  • Frenchmans summit, of course (eventually)
  • Bum-sliding down the snow on the way back down
  • The vegetation – if you get bored on a walk there is always something of interest in the vegetation and on this walk there was immense variety including lots of things new to me (I’m fascinated by Australian botany)
The best way downhill

The not so good:

  • The unimproved track beyond Vera Hut is … unimproved (and felt very long)
  • Reaching the summit of Frenchmans at exactly exactly the same time that the descending cloud ceiling also reached it; I had a hissy fit and stormed back down but was persuaded to hang around to see what happened, and as the mist came and went we did in fact get some good views

We may or may not ever return to Frenchmans (I don’t feel a burning desire) but I remain very grateful for the opportunity to have done it, twice. And if I do go again I think my now lowered expectations might lead me to be pleasantly surprised.

2 thoughts on “Expectations and Frenchmans Cap

  1. Oh Peter…a hissy fit? LOL! πŸ˜€ I aspire to walk the walk, perhaps next year is my year πŸ˜‰ My expectations are of mud, lots of steps cut for long legged men, slippery stuff, swearing, slow slog with annoyingly young fast people overtaking me, thoughts of ‘why am I doing this?’ and beautiful geology….so yup I’m ready I think πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the account Peter, thanks to Dick Smith’s donation to conquer the Loddon.
    Sounds familiar, at 18yrs of age, we were beaten by the mist.
    Hope to do it next year!

    Liked by 1 person

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