Friday, January 31, 2014

Bogong high plains circuit

A 4 1/2 day circuit walk in the Bogong High Plains, Victoria, Australia.

Day 1
Start at the west end of Rocky Valley dam wall. Follow the road to Pretty Valley dam, continue on the Fainter fire trail to Tawonga huts, you can camp here but I recommend going 3km more north to Little Plain to camp as it puts you in striking distance of the two Mount  Fainters, do the Fainters that afternoon or next morning. There is also a track up to Mt Jaithmathang (on some maps Mt Niggerhead) from Tawonga huts.

Day 2
Go back 1 km south from Tawonga Huts on the Fainter fire trail then follow the pole lines through pole 333 to Young's hut.

Bogong High Plains from Mt Feathertop, Photo by Benjamint444 , Licence 

Day 3
Follow the pole line north 2km to the top of the hill then drop into the valley which leads to the weir at the head of Cope West aqueduct, follow the aqueduct east to Cope saddle, drop in at Ryder's hut on the
way. From Cope saddle hut, bush bash up the spur, pretty much due east to the summit of Mt Cope. Follow the track off the summit down to the high plains road. Walk 1km south down the road to Langford West

Day 4
Follow the aqueduct northeast to its end near Fitzgerald's hut, turn left at the end and go 1km uphill to the hut.
Fitzgerald's hut 1940, Wikimedia
Day 4.5
Follow the pole line west, then take Heathy spur track back to the start.

Typically, the weather is 10C cooler than Melbourne. You can check Falls Creek Vic. weather. Summer weather is very pleasant but you should be prepared for wet and cold weather any time of the year. Carry a map and compass and walking and camping gear suitable for wet cold weather.

Getting there

There is abundant water in many springs and creeks which many people are happy to drink untreated.

Parks Vic Regulations here
Particularly if arriving from overseas, please check boots, socks, packs and tents for any seeds. This unique ecosystem is already under serious threat from hawkweed, introduced by accident from Europe.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lares Pass walk, Peru

A day walk from Totora to Lares Pass or vice versa is a good way to get some altitude acclimatisation while based in Cusco Peru. (Its not my own idea, I was told it by Graham at Destination Holidays.) You get acclimatisation if you start/finish near Quellopuito to 4100m or 4400m if you go all the way to the pass.

Getting there by taxi. Image, Google Maps

The walk is 40km north of Cusco, north of Calca in the Sacred Valley. You will need to hire a taxi and driver for the day, approximately US$100. You get dropped at the start of the walk and the taxi waits at the finish. The walk takes 2 to 3 hours.

Calca Market

Maybe stop at Calca market on the way.

I had been recommended to walk downhill to Totora but the taxi driver wanted me to start at Totora and my Spanish wasn't good enough to argue.

The Totora end of the trail, looking north

Image: modified from Google Maps

The path is shown dotted. The south end follows the creek through a narrow gorge. Going north, as it approaches the valley junction at Quellopuito it climbs the west side of the valley on an old Inca road. At this north end, where it swings east-west, it becomes less distinct but don't worry, the valley is broad and the biggest hazard is wet feet. You have a number of entry/exit points at the north end, its a broad valley and you and the taxi will be visible to each other.

Google maps shows the road going dead straight to the WSW but this does not match any feature on the ground so I have blanked this out. The road actually swings south of the river and the trail and then swings north to meet them at Lares pass (not marked).

At the south end, the trail passes through a narrow gorge.

Looking north to Quellopuito. The valley splits to two branches there, the Inca trail climbs on the west valley side.

From the road, looking west towards Lares Pass. Quellopuito is in the foreground. The trail is on the left valley wall, the road on the right valley wall.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Climate modelling - on your own PC

There is a lot of uncertainty in the community about man made global warming. There is no doubt that CO2 levels are around 150% of long term historic levels. There are indications that the climate is warming and that the CO2 level is the likely cause but weather is highly variable and observed warming is still of the same order as natural variations in weather.

The strongest argument for anthropogenic climate change is the work of climate scientists who model the increased radiative forcing of CO2 along with many positive and negative feedback loops on their supercomputers. We believe, if we trust them, that the predicted warming is around 1C, the same as is being experienced.

We, till now, have been unable to verify the models they use. It is an issue of trust, trusted sources, climate skeptics simply trust different sources.

Compare with flat earth, hygiene, vaccination and other beliefs that have been controversial at times. All can be experimentally tested. Its fairly easy to understand how they can be tested. If we could be bothered, we could test them at home. We know that they have been tested time and time over.

With advances in computers, home computers are now as fast as the supercomputers of 1988, if we want we can run a 1988 climate simulation on our PC. 100 years takes overnight to run. :

"EdGCM, or the Educational Global Climate Model, is a suite of software that allows users to run a fully functional 3D global climate model (GCM) on laptops or desktop computers. {read a general description of the software}
At its core, EdGCM uses a Global Climate Model (GCM) developed at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which has been used by researchers to study climates of the past, present and future."

EdGCM is free for 30 days then $199.

EdGCM has a fancy graphical front end but it uses  you can download, inspect or compile the Fortran source code if you are a relatively skilled hacker.

"Model II first described and published by Hansen et al., 1983. This model was developed at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies beginning in the late 1970's and was the primary GCM maintained and used by GISS scientists until the early 1990's. Model II parameterizations and control runs are described in Hansen et al., 1983 and the original NASA/GISS global warming simulations were performed using this model and published in Hansen et al. 1988"

How good was Model II ? If your standard was its ability to predict weather, or the average temperature of a particular year, it was not good, but not so bad when looking at average warming rates.

temp trends.png

Here is another model, simpler and faster to run. It does not model day/night and the atmosphere is a single layer. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

cycling france part four

Soissons and Compigne.

This is the carriage in the clearing where the Germans surrendered  in 1918 and then the French in 1940 except it isn't because the Germans burnt it in 1945, presumably to avoid the humiliation. Its a similar carriage, made a little later.

We Went to Montdidier, expecting to go to Amiens, but it was booked out, so Beauvais.

The astronomical clock in the Beauvais cathedral.

Ancient druidic stones outside Gisors. I couldn't find any more information beyond what is on

Cyder press, 18th century.

This monument dates back to the Knights Templar as we were told by a local.

Mantes-la-Jolie then Versailles

1500 km later we arrive at our Paris hotel.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cycling France part three

I love the gnomes!

We left the the Burgundy canal for Vezelay. Its strategically located on a hilltop, it was quite a climb for us.

Vezelay has  lots of tourists. The abbey is said to hold the relics (bones) of Mary Magdelene,

but it doesn't because the Huguenots destroyed the relics in the 16th century. Vezelay was also a starting point for the second and third crusades and a starting point for the Compostela pilgrim trail.

Next we join the Canal_du_Nivernais to Auxerre and Sens.

Nature et Paysans in Villadin just west of Troyes made us coffee and chocolate despite a busy baking day. It sells wood fired organic bread and fair trade products.


We followed the Canal de la Haute Seine bike path north west out of Troyes as far a Mery sur Seine.

The mill at Anglure on the way to Sezanne.

A bit of street performance in a village.

Mondement-Montgivroux Le Monument national de la victoire de la Marnemarks the turning point of the German invasion of France in the first world war. The advance was stopped here, 3 years of trench war stalemate followed.

Next Epernay and Reims.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

France cycle part two

Leaving Beaune a short sharp climb over to the Ouche valley.

Then north along the Burgundy canal.

Pouilly en Auxois
As the sign says, the tunnel is 3km long, and was built 1826 -1832.

The electric tug 

is  a bit like a tram with a pantograph. It towed barges through the tunnel. It operated 1893 - 1987.

We never heard if the horse got out of the canal OK.


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Friday, June 14, 2013

Cycling France

Six of us left Strasbourg together, Helmut was only going part way. We followed the canal east to Molsheim and stayed at Barr.
The market at Molsheim. 


We followed the Route des Vins south to Colmar and Mulhouse.

 The Rhine canal, In  the distance the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, the oldest working in France.

We had a wet day riding from Colmar to Mulhouse,  were very lucky to find a barge restaurant , a delicious $13 lunch.
Inside the barge,  6 wet but happy cyclists. 

Continuing along the Rhine Rhone canal from Mulhouse along the Eurovelo6 bike path, we stayed in the Hôtel de France, Montbéliard. A lovely old family hotel, I was expecting Basil any second . Next Hyevre.

Next the fort city of Besancon with its Roman gate.
The well in Besancon citidel is very deep,  going right down to the river . It has a treadmill to lift the bucket. 

We follow the Rhine Rhone canal west along the river Doubs past Dole. It reaches the river Saone and it swings south so we leave it there. 

On the other side of the Saone valley Beaune with its hospice.

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