Don Juan and Black Birch Range

11 April

Twelve of us started walking eastwards from the end of Lotkow Road first through a mixtures of regenerating forest and then pine trees to our morning’s destination, Don Juan. We had reached the trig by 10 AM, had a short break and then returned back to our vehicles. After driving 2 km back along Lotkow Road to the start of the Lotkow Road to Littles Clearing Track, we dropped half the party off as they were to climb up the steep track on to the top of the Black Birch ridge and follow the track to Littles Clearing. The rest of remained in the truck as we planned to walk in from Little Clearing and meet them.

The drive to Littles Clearing in our new van was eventful. The van has traction control which is automatically turned on when you start the vehicle. When the van gets into tricky situations when traction is not as good as it should be (such as in deep snow or when going up steep gravelly roads like the Black Birch) it decides to stop, in our case just as we had rounded as blind corner. So while Susan hopped out to manage any traffic our driver pushed all the buttons he could find it an attempt to turn off traction control, all previous vehicles he has driven has 1 button you push to turn off traction control – this van has a 4 step menu process to turn it off which is not detailled in the instruction book ( found after the event on google) . Anyhow after some time and a bit of luck we managed to convince the van it could continue upwards and when the gradient decreased we were able to stop and wait for Susan to catch us up and get in.

We had lunch at Littles Clearing before walking in to meet the others. The first part of this track is very pretty as it winds it way through native bush to an unnamed tributary of the Donald River after which there is a more open tdamp tussocky stretch and then the dreaded Pinus contorta. It was a lovely sunny day and from the view points on the tops we could look across and see our cairn as a little dot on the sky-line. Three of our party continued on after meeting the others so we could visit Black Birch bivvy before returning back to the van but everyone was back in the van and headed for town by around 3.30.

Party: Peter B, Anne B, Teresa B, Susan L, Anne D, Jo P, Vivian X, Jude H, Derek B, Des S, Janice L & Glenda H