Access to Jagungal in Spring
Armed with snowshoes and some warm gear we set our eyes on the summit of Mt Jagungal, or the big J. Covered in snow this time of the year it proved to be quite the adventure even before we put our packs on.
One of the big attractions of Jagungal is just how remote it is (well compared to many other walks and peaks). Access is long in any direction and made even more difficult in winter when the road from Khancoban to Cabramurra is closed and along with it a bunch of access points like Round Mountain and the track to Wheelers hut. This left two options for access either the East from Nimmo Plain or the west from Everard's Flat Fire Trail and through Pretty Plain hut.
Pressed for time we wanted to give the summit our best shot so we decided to access the area from Nimmo Plain on the East side. This is the closest to the big J, but still left us with one big question. How far up Nimmo Road (also known as Cesjacks Road) towards the park boundary and Cesjacks hut would we be able to get?
Snow levels could affect our start point as much as 10km. Also we would need to contend with a possible muddy road that is 4wd access only and swollen spring rivers and creeks with a pretend 4WD (a Subaru Forester). We would have to cross the bulls peaks river twice and the Gungarlin once (there is a small bridge over this).
Noted on some cross country ski forums the access could be quite difficult with all sorts of reports coming from 2wd cars making it in through to restrictions on access when wet. There also were some questions about legally using this road to access the park boundary through private property. It seems some of the local owners have had problems with some four wheel drivers tearing up the road when wet and so have put up strict signs. The best I could find out was that we were allowed to use the road as it's a public right of way. We also wanted to make sure that we respected the land owners and didn't damage the road so as to keep this access point open to bushwalker and skiers in the future.
Driving in late at night and we found the bridge over the Gungarlin and proceeded towards Cesjacks hut. When we came across the first river crossing I stripped down and waded the river, it was about knee deep. Wishing I had my Land Rover Defender instead of the Subaru Forester I slipped it into low range and drove across with a little too big of a bow wave - ok so it went up the wind screen. Hey, I'm used to slightly bigger four wheel drives with square fronts! Excited we keep driving up the track to see how far we could get when we came across the second crossing. This one was a lot wider and so still in my undies I waded this one. It was above my knees. Sense probably should can cut in here, but it didn't. Just how much could the forester swim? My biggest worry was the car floating enough to loose traction. With 3 6 foot guys and their packs loaded with winter camping toys we had the ballast we needed to get across. We hit the river a bit slower than last time, but the low range in the Forrester isn't so low and I didn't want to stall it with the water more than half way up the doors. I lost sight as the headlights went under water and had a complete loose of senses. Were we still moving? Shane yelled to go left and I saw the grass from the far bank quickly approaching me and swung around just in time to miss the star picket. Safely across we all breathed a sense of releif and let the water drain from the car. It needed a fresh water bath.
On our way back we made a makeshift tarp out of our gaiters to help keep the water out of the engine bay - seems to work a treat.
The track proved to be easy until we hit a deep snow drift which we couldn't get through now matter how many times we tried to. This would be our camp for the night. We were close to the park boundary below the final steep section of track which we found out the next day had a lot more snow and a large fallen tree across it.