*** Safety note for first-timers to the Main Range ***
This cache was initially placed for the benefit of people who, like myself, enjoy walking on the Main Range, in order to show off an area far enough off the beaten track that even most frequent visitors to the Park don't know that it exists. The fact that this is now one of Australia's oldest surviving Geocaches is attracting interest from people who have no experience at all in this area.
If you haven't walked the Main Range Track several times then I would seriously advise not attempting this cache at all.
The Main Range is a hazardous area. Unlike an urban or suburban environment, you can't readily get inside if the weather turns bad and you can't rely upon quick access to help if you get into trouble.
For those who are determined, I'd suggest that a bare minimum approach is three separate visits between December 1 and March 31 (not necessarily in the same 12 month period), preferably at busy times (post-Christmas week, Easter long weekend if it's in March, etc.):
- On a first visit complete the Charlotte Pass -> Mt. Kosciuszko -> Charlotte Pass return trip. You could come up from Thredbo, but the point of the exercise is a long walk in mountain conditions, not a ride up a chairlift.
- Take some time to reflect a week or two later. How was it? How quickly did you recover (are you still recovering)? What could you have done better?
- On a second visit complete the Charlotte Pass -> Rawson's Pass -> Main Range Track -> Blue Lake -> Charlotte Pass loop. (The other direction is easier, but the Blue Lake -> Charlotte Pass "experience" is the most likely end to an attempt on the cache; it's worth having done it at least one time previously.)
- Again, take some time to reflect a week or two later. How was it? How quickly did you recover (are you still recovering)? What could you have done better? How is several km of off-track walking once you're up on the Main Range likely to affect you?
- If you're still keen, attempt the cache on a third visit.
I'd suggest that even this three-trip approach is rather hasty, but that anything less is seriously unwise.
On each visit:
- If at all possible, go with someone who is experienced on the Main Range.
- Make certain that you have clear answers about what you'll do if you're injured or if it snows (both how you'll endure while it's snowing and how you'll get out when it stops).
- Make certain that you're aware of weather conditions in advance, and willing to not walk if the weather looks marginal.
- Register your planned walk at the Visitor's Centre at Jindabyne. Take advantage of their PLB loan service.
In light of the above and that part of the audience for this cache has changed, I've upgraded the Terrain Rating to 5.
*** End of safety note ***
No prizes for guessing which national park this stash is in.
This stash is not buried. The vegetation in this area takes many decades to recover from damage, please do not dig holes here.
This stash can (only) be reached on foot. Climbing gear is not required. Vehicular access is not possible.
It is unlikely that this stash can be accessed during winter, unless you're willing to dig a lot of snow.
For the rest of the year, normal safety considerations definitely apply: Wear good boots, carry food and water. Weather conditions change abruptly so - no matter how good the weather is when you set off - be prepared for everything from sunburn and rain to sleet, snow and hypothermia. Take someone with you, tell someone else where you're going and when you'll be back, remember to contact them when you do return, carry a mobile phone with a charged battery, carry a compass and map and know how to use them, carry spare GPS batteries (they go flat faster than usual in low temperatures) etc. etc.
This is definitely a whole day outing. Ideally you should have parked as close as possible and started your hike by about 10am. This is easiest if you are staying somewhere in the mountains, but Jindabyne will do if you get an early start. Unless you approach via Blue Lake, most of the walking will be nowhere near any road or trail, so you'll need to be able to navigate across open, hilly terrain; the map and compass are utterly essential and having you or someone in your party with previous experience in the area is desirable.
As of January 2007, the logbook is plastic. This will hopefully provide a logbook that is useful when wet, which seems to have been its usual state since installation. I have placed some felt-tip permanent markers (a CD marker, a "garden pen") in the cache, but suggest that anyone planning to visit it take their own marker with them.
Note that a colony of mildly aggressive ants appears to have located itself near the cache in 2008-2009. Once you've located the cache it would be smart to pick it up and carry it 10-20m away before opening it in order to avoid these guys. (Please note its exact location carefully before carrying it away so you can put it back afterwards.)
A note on the difficulty rating:
- This cache will require significant time to prepare for and to seek, and the final ~90 minutes of the hike in is very strenuous for most people (me included!). On this basis, it rates about a 4 for overall difficulty.
- On the other hand, the recommended scale at ClayJar seperates difficulty in reaching the site (terrain) from the subsequent difficulty in getting at the cache (difficulty). Once you've arrived at the site, depending upon the time of year you could spot the cache in seconds, or you could spend hours digging snow. On this basis it rates a 1-3 for difficulty. As only one team has ever searched while there was snow cover, I've set the difficulty to 1.
Enjoy the walk. This is my favourite part of the world.