The hike to Frenchmans Cap is usually done in 3-5 days. Explorer Christine and her mate Josh decided to smash it out in two. Here’s how it went down.
- Native flora with cute names! – sassafrass, myrtle beech, snow berry, fairy apron, and varnish gum
- Alpine lakes! – Lake Vera and Lake Tahune
- Frenchmans Cap summit
- Wildlife – we spotted a quoll, a few tiger snakes and an echidna
Fastpacking is Type Two Fun
When you’re not a trail runner, but you’re short on time, you do things like try to squeeze a 3-5 day trekking adventure, into an ultra-lightweight 2 day hike. With a combination of only the essentials and a pair of speedy legs, you dash past two beautiful huts and alpine lakes, up and over Barron Pass en route to one epic summit: Frenchmans Cap.
In the heart of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers Ranges, there’s a summit that has a treacherous mud-rich history of the good ol’ ‘sodden lodden’. Today it’s a popular trail that boasts a comfortable mix of natural forest paths, boardwalks and elevated gravel paths that make this trek a tough and challenging adventure, but oh so rewarding. It’s a big weekend getaway for anyone after some Type Two Fun!
Note: All trail statistics were measured using a Suunto9 GPS watch, which may vary from route information published by Tasmania Parks.
Day 1: Carpark to Frenchmans Cap Summit
Time taken: 9.19hrs
Elevation gain: 1713m ↑ / 706m ↓
The first of its kind for me, I packed the lightest pack I’ve ever carried, to smash out this beast of a trek as quickly as possible. Setting a solid pace behind my good mate Josh, my little legs kept me scurrying along.
Making only the essential stops a top priority, the heart rate never dropped below med/max effort for me. But we certainly weren’t running – I’m not fit enough to do that with 10-13kg on my back. I’m known to be slow, especially when there’s a camera strapped to the front of my pack!
We had to save on weight to maintain our power, so we refilled our 1L bottles frequently, utilized a tarp and groundsheet shelter system between the two of us, and used daywear as sleepwear. We had no fancy treats or snacks but we made a special weight allowance for a good cuppa, because priorities right?
Now, truth be told, our tarp system was an absolutely hilarious fail. We were visited by the overzealous god of wind, Aeolus, who brought along 70-80km raging winds all night long, that not only kept us sleepless, but ripped up our tarp. Our intention was not to test the tarp system in such an exposed environment, but little did we know that there’d be destroying winds in the forecast (oops). This experience re-defined our type two fun and we had an adventure from things going wrong!
Day 2: Base of Summit to Carpark
Time taken: 8.37hrs
Elevation gain: 664m ↑ / 1646m ↓
We woke to a cold slap in the face from Aeolus again but rose with the sun as it climbed its way up to wake the mountains surrounding us. We were keen to get warm with a cuppa in the hut, so quickly made our knee-knacking descent to Lake Tahune Hut.
After morning tea, we enjoyed a breezy stroll to Barron Pass, taking in the magical views illuminated with morning light. We looked back one last time to take in Tasmania’s good ol’ highest most vertical massif. From Barron Pass, the descent was fast and steady with a quick lunch break at Lake Vera Hut.
From Vera Hut, the pain was real. I was wearing barefoot trail runners, so at this point, my feet were very raw, tender and achy. We still needed to charge up a few more hills in the hot sun but thankfully I got a brief rest every time we encountered a tiger snake!
The last two suspension bridges could not feel any farther away, and I significantly had to reduce my pace to get through the last section.
Once the hills were over I lost some motivation until I stumbled upon an echidna that was so adorable, that I was able to walk on with an ear to ear grin. We crossed the last of the suspension bridges, signed out of the logbook, and victoriously high-fived for our solid weekend effort.
- Tasmania Parks pass
- Guy rope – a good item to have for shelter set up on the summit or on wooden tent platforms
- Rain pants and rain jacket – re-treat your rainproof gear with Nikwax – get a tech wash & DWR re-proofing spray
- A sleeping bag & liner – the liner adds warmth and keeps the bag clean
- Peak Design capture camera clip (for the photography buffs!)
- 1-2 extra days worth of emergency food and enough fuel
- Gaiters – good snake protection
- Camper’s Pantry – local Tasmanian freeze-dried food!
Trail consists of gravel, boardwalk, forest floor, slippery roots & steps, and some scrambling once you begin summiting the Cap.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
47.58km / 2377m total ascent / 2 days