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Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Mon 22 Aug, 2016 12:33 pm

Hey guy!
So after a month of preparation I finally accomplished the Mountain Lagoon Loop this weekend. I am writing this from my bed today where I am in various amounts of pain haha! The track was harder than we were expecking and much longer than sign posted in places.
We started out about 9am on Saturday at the trail head on Sam's Way near Bilpin. The fire trail was easy walking and we were prepared for more challenges along the way. Reaching the fork we took the T3 track along the Ridge and despite the swirling weather (hot sun one minute/icy rain the next) we made food time to the lookout.

Coming down the Ridge to the Tootie creek Colo river junction was a little more difficult with packs on, we've never done a hike with full packs before ;)

But we made it by 1pm and stopped for lunch. And inflated our raft we were taking down the river.

We were on the water by 2pm and the forays onto the banks to get around the rapids were hard going. It's quite overgrown these days and lugging the boat through the scrub was awkward! We did take water shoes tho which protected our feet some but we're hopelessly slippery!

The boat was a lot of fun. My captain was terrible at communicating with me, as I was at the back with two packs and another person in front of me I couldn't see much. And she gave either hopeless or no verbal instructions haha.

At about 5pm we rounded the big bend. And promptly hit a stick poking a hole in our boat. We bailed and walked to the big sandbar on the west bank and debated walking further down before camping. But we couldn't see around the bend and didn't want to risk going forward in the failing light and finding no safe place to stop. So as the sun set we hastily set up camp and lit a fire to warm the frozen appendages we were currently trying to function with after being in the water for the last hour.

By 9pm we were both sound asleep in the tent! Haha! I'd like to thank whoever took the time to mark the T3 trail with the rocks. You saved us a few times and I repaired a few that had fallen over.

Day 2 we were up at 7am but needed to eat and patch the boat before we could set out. And guess who forgot to pack the patch kit for the boat....? Me! Oops! So we fished out the patches for our inflatable pillows and used those. By 9am we were back on the water. And by the next sand bank I was sitting in about an inch of water in the back of the boat. Deciding that I was already half soaked I bailed out and started walking. Another hour on I was struggling with the water, my pack and the ridiculous amount of quicksand. As a short person, one foot in usually meant I was wet past my waist. And it was a struggle to pull myself out repeatedly. Even using my oar to help. So, as soon as the water looked deeper than knee high we tried the boat again, but my buddy sat in the back while I lay over the packs at the front. This worked MUCH better and we were more comfortable and communicating much better than before. We were still taking on water but my buddy now had space to use her mug to scoop it out every now and then. Anyway. Another hour and we finally spied colo meroo! Yay, we're saved... boat was deflated and stowed and we put dry clothes and our shoes back on. We met 2 older gentlemen at colo meroo shelter who were walking back out to the road. We headed straight for the mountain lagoon trail because I knew we had lost a bit of time on the river that I wanted to make upayment and it was 11am already. The trail I've done a few times before but never the entire way. Usually just to Meroo Trig and back. The trail states 4 hours one way on the sign at the bottom. This is a LIE. Or I can't walk half as fast as I think I can. And I'm certain I can walk above regular walking pace. Anyway, two hours to the top of the Ridge. We needed a few rest stops. Our packs were weighing heavy. The track is covered in rubble and very slippery at the moment. My buddy cracked her shin and an ankle that needed first aid stops. By 1pm we were having lunch at the lookout. We broke lunch Early trying to make up for the time we lost on the river this morning. Expecting a 4 hour trip we still had 2 hours to go... right? Wrong... we climbed for 2 hours, the we walked along the Ridge at a fast pace (we I did. My buddy was considerably slower, perhaps more cautious too lol). Still no sign of a fire trail. Or the actual trail anymore. We followed a clear trail until it vanished in the shrubbery... and we began to despair. It made no sense. I'd been walking fast for 2 hours on what was supposed to be only 7kms of track. Surely I should be almost out...

We took a breather then I decided we would continue in the direction we were heading trail or no trail!! And another hour passed of scrambling along just under and on top of the Ridge. Then we found a foot trail which intersected a much clearer trail! Yay turn right and March. Somewhere in that 5th hour my buddy had got upset, it was getting late, we were exhausted. She was hurt, I had done my ankle, twice. We were low on water also. But I refused to spend another night in the bush lol.

Thinking we finally were close to home we walked another hour along the foot trail. Still no car. Was this the longest 9kms in the history of kms? We're we on the wrong trail? What ever. I wasn't stopping. Another hour and we passed the 6 hour mark on the trail. And no end in sight!? The sun was long behind the Ridge and it was fully dark now. With torches on we finally hit the wide fire trail and hope we were still going the right direction. By 6:30 we were rounding the last gate on the way back to the car. And I have never been so thankful in my life. It took us over 7 hours to walk up. I spent half my time trying to work out if we were lost on a 4 hour trail or if the trail had been miscalculated. I was certain I wasn't walking at half snail pace! Even with my ankle I had taken some ibuprofen and kept my pace up. If anyone has some better calculations for the distance on that trail I'd love to know about them. Because 9kms or 4 hours were both wildly incorrect! One personal story says 12kms which I'd be inclined to believe except it's 2km from colo meroo to the top and we did that in 2 hours, which means it took us 5 hours to walk the remaining 10kms along the Ridge. And I highly doubt that.

Anyway, we returned home to Sydney about 8:30 last night and suffered badly from general muscle pain and various injuries. Overall it was an amazing trip for our first big overnight hike, though possibly slightly beyond our fitness level. We still made it ;)

I do have photos but don't know how to post them. If anyway can point me in the right direction I can add them later.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Mon 22 Aug, 2016 6:18 pm

Haha! Great report and a good effort. I can't help you with pics or with the distance discrepancies as I've never been there but sometimes when you're overly eager to finish a hard walk those last remaining Klm's can tend to dragggggg onnnnnn.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Mon 22 Aug, 2016 7:02 pm

Worked out the photo posting from my phone! Haha
Sorry they are sideways :( I don't know how to turn them.
View from the Lookout on the T3 track towards upper Colo
View towards tower colo from T3 lookout.
First set of rapids at the Tootie Creek Junction
Trail head at Colo Meroo
Lookout on Mailes Ridge.
Look out on Mailes Ridge
When I lost my hiking buddy on the fire trail

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Wed 24 Aug, 2016 9:32 pm

I have fond memories of this walk. It was one of my early overnight walks, that I led, going in the other direction, and we ended up benighted on the second night! So well done on making it out on the same day!

For what it's worth, I've done various sections of the walk again, and have GPS logs of the times and distances.

From Colo Meroo to Sams Way is about 13km. I've mostly walked it in the other direction (down), but the time we walked up, it took 5 hours including 20 minutes for lunch and a 20 minute detour to Conder Trig (4h20 of walking).

The trip down took us 4h30 with about an hour of breaks. The other time I walked down it took 4h30 hours with about 30 minutes of breaks. So 3h30-4h of walking downhill.

Going up, from Colo Meroo up to the top of the hill (near Meroo Trig) took us pretty much an hour (1.5km). From there back to the junction of Mailes/Gospers Ridge was another 1h50 (5.5km), and back to the car (6km) was another 2h10 with 40 minutes of breaks/detours.

So 12km is pretty close. However, 4 hours to get out is probably a bit low for most people. 5-6 hours is probably what I'd expect.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Thu 25 Aug, 2016 6:10 am

Tom! I have read your track notes and that's what we used as a guide on the trip!
I'm glad I'm not crazy and it really was longerror than signposted. I knew I wasn't walking quite that slow. My buddy was slower. Which added a little time. And we had a longer lunch stop. But next time I'll be prepared for the time better. Weach also stopped at Condor trig. But my legs were too unsteady to climb the rock and I was too scared haha!

Thank you for your details though. I've made a note in my book for next time!

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Fri 26 Aug, 2016 8:26 pm

Sam's Way to Colo Meroo shelter shed and back is usually a longish day. I imagine quite a few have noticed that the end of the Fire Trail back can drag a bit.
Going along the ridge from the Meroo Trig - did you come back a bit and do a hard right hand turn, or did you just continue along the ridge the Trig is on? I ask, because continuing along the ridge is 'obvious', but wrong. That might account for a bit.


Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Fri 26 Aug, 2016 8:30 pm

We backtracked and went rightish after checking out the trig. Perhaps we really just aren't as fast as we thought.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Sat 27 Aug, 2016 8:57 am

Did you have any raft pics and what raft did you use? I've been looking in to doing some pack rafting.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Sat 27 Aug, 2016 9:09 am

No raft pix on the water. It was awkward trying to get phones out in a flimsy inflatable boat. I do have one picture of the boat at camp though!

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Sat 27 Aug, 2016 10:13 am

Here's the image
Boat at camp
Was $60 on eBay. 2 man 200kg limit with paddles.

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Sat 27 Aug, 2016 8:52 pm

Looks like you got a good deal. Great report and good on you for getting out there and doing it!

Re: Mountain Lagoon/T3/Mailies Ridge Loop

Sun 28 Aug, 2016 1:59 pm

Thanks for the great report and photos WalkGirl84. Looks like you girls had a good adventure. I've only done an overnight trip, some years ago, from Sams Way to Colo Meroo and back but also recollect it was a bit of a slog coming back out. I have some amusing memories of pitching the tent near the shelter at Colo Meroo without realising we were almost on top of a wombat burrow. As we were about to cook dinner the wombat promptly emerged, ignored us and wandered off along a track of sorts. I followed it briefly but it was getting dark and who knows where it was going!
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