Weld (also Anne and Snake) river packrafting trips
Jarrah had tried to packraft the Weld River three times before, but water levels, a shoulder dislocation and other events had got in the way. Nic, Sharee and I went with him on attempt four. We thought it would be too low, but set off from Hobart at 5 AM on a Saturday. We checked the levels via smartphone on the drive out and were convinced it was too low, but as we had all our gear and were ready for something fun, we decided to do the Anne instead. That turned out to be a really great trip, but still failed attempt number four on the Weld for Jarrah. The Anne is a beautiful river and good for packrafts at low levels, but we thought the steepness and narrow, straight sides with few eddies would make it become pretty challenging with even a little bit more water in it. Here is a video that Nic made of that trip:
There had been a fair bit of rain for the next attempt – number five for Jarrah. We got a lift around 8 AM on a Saturday with Josh, Emily and their super-energetic alpha-dog Wally. We stopped at Josh’s mini hydro power station on the way up for a look, which was really interesting:
We got the Parks Service key for the Mueller Rd which joins the Scott’s Peak Rd just near the junction with the Gordon Rd. Jarrah had asked Forestry Tasmania for a key for the other end of the road, but they refused for no good reason. Clearly their ‘Forestry Tasmania manages for multiple uses’ doesn’t include helping with access for river trips… Jarrah did give his name and he is named after a tree, so that might not have helped. There was snow on the ground at the start of the walk, maybe a day or two old and melting. Josh and Emily headed back here after doing a bit of track maintenance. The walk on to the Weld took us a lot longer than we expected and for about the third trip in a row we’d somehow left all the maps behind, so we didn’t know how far we’d got when it started to get dark. Anyway, we thought we were near-ish the river and found a spot with a few level sections for tents, so we stayed there for the night.
It rained all through the night and Bruce got a leech up his nose, so we were all a bit demoralised in the morning. It turned out that we were only about 600 m from the put-in point. Jarrah and I went to the river with our packs and gear. Bruce and Nic left theirs at the campsite and Sharee had come for the walk only, so her pack stayed there. The river seemed alright at the put-in point, although we were pretty sure it would be high from the levels of all the other nearby rivers, melting snow, the look of creeks feeding into it and the overnight rain. In the end Jarrah and I were the only ones really keen for the river. We might have been more inspired by Wally the dog’s attitude than the others. So, we set off and Nic, Sharee and Bruce walked back to the road where there was still one car.
Within ten minutes of leaving the fairly flat put-in point it started to get exciting. The gorge gets steep quickly and the river was clearly high given the amount of large vegetation at river level. It was moving fast. Faster than I’ve ever been in a packraft. We had to scout a lot of drops and ferry glide above some of them to swap sides of the river to clamber around. I managed to fumble a small drop and have a small swim that made my semi-dry suit / thermals into a mostly-wet outfit. We had about six steep, scrubby portages up limestone/mud cliffs to get around drops that were un-runnable. After a few hours of this the gorge opened out and from there we had a pretty good run to the junction with the Snake river. This looked to have about as much water in it as the Weld at this point, which was pretty interesting and we went back five weeks later to do it via Lake Judd, Lonely Tarns and the eastern end of the Mt Anne massif with Josh and Bruce. Jarrah might write that trip up sometime, but here is a link to the video:
And Bruce’s photos:
We camped not far beyond the Junction with the Snake on a nice beach positioned on a small Island in the river. I was cold by the time we got there and we tried to get a fire going, but it was still raining and we just couldn’t get it to go. It rained all night again and in the morning we were a little nervous. To start off with it was pretty good, but after an hour we got to long sections of fast water with holes in them big enough to be challenging. After an hour of that it was getting fun and I was really enjoying it in a nervous way, but I ended up swimming. Jarrah swam in exactly the same spot a few minutes later. Luckily both of us held our paddles and boats and after being dragged a long way over lots of uncomfortable rocks I managed to flip and re-enter my boat and Jarrah got his to the side and got going again.
After another half hour or so we came across the large log that crosses the entire river. I was a quite nervous and cold now and made us both portage this, although afterwards it looked like we could have just gone over the right-hand end. Beyond that, the river is easier and with the high water it only took us another hour to get to the top bridge on the Weld. We arrived around lunchtime and as Bruce and I had dropped a car there a few days before we could just pack up and take off, which was pretty convenient. There are no gauges on the Weld, but the Huon River at Harrison’s opening was at about 3 m when we did this and had been above 6 m only a few days before, so things were wet. Here is a video of bits of this trip:
Jarrah Vercoe, Nic Fitzgerald, Sharee Thomas, Josh Tomlin, Emily, Bruce Deagle and Simon Jarman. Winter-Spring 2014