Wednesday, January 27. 2010
Overland Track Hike
Having heard so much about the Overland track my son and I decided to attempt the hike at the end of the school holidays. I travelled over on the ferry. He was staying with in-laws at Launceston and we met outside the Information Centre in Devonport to catch the Tassielink bus to Cradle. Having sorted out passes and fuel at the visitor centre we were taken with others for a briefing about the track and what to expect. We were told that two things were certain, rain and mud. In fact we saw neither although wished that it had rain to cool things down. The weather was really hot and made some of the exposed sections unpleasant.
From Ronneys Creek Crater Lake was the first stop.
The only climb of note on the trail is up to Marions Lookout.
From the top good views attract many day visitors.
From Marion's Lookout views of Cradle Mountain.
Once over Marions the track flattens out and brings views of a mountain that dominates the first two days of the trail - Barn Bluff.
A friendly spotted quoll.
After sidling the base of Cradle mountain the track drops down to Waterfall Valley. Here a well-appointed hut, a ranger and the first of many sleepless nights in the company of talkers, snorers and the like.
Excitement in the morning a helicopter ferrying rangers to other huts.
Day 2 to Windemere
This is the shortest day, a mere 7km to the next hut at Windemere. PWS have cleverly included some side trips to reduce the guilt of such a short distance - Lake Wills and Innes falls at the southern end of the lake. (it is possible to leapfrog to Pelion hut but the distance is another 17km which in hot weather and with heavy packs is a hut too far). This adds another hour to the day but lunch at Innes falls was very pleasant.
Barn Bluff as seen leaving Waterfall Valley.
Side trip to Lake Wills.
You can walk down the side of the lake to the outflow named Innes Falls.
Some exposed walking brings you to a high point where you can see Pelion East, Mount Ossa and Pelion West. These are the mountains that dominate the next two days of walking.
A sharp descent brings you to Lake Windemere. Windemere lies at the foot of the hill and just before Windemere hut. A pleasant swim so I was told by others from the hut. Far too cold to tempt me.
From here another 15 minutes walk to the Windemere Hut set back in the trees.
Some pleasant campsites around the hut area.
Day 3 to Pelion Hut crossing Pine Moor.
Probably the best day simply because it started off looking like it might even rain - it didn't. However the scenery is spectacular. After an undulating first few kilometers we arrived at the exposed Pine Moor. I would guess in bad weather this would not be a place to linger.
Stopped at the Forth Valley lookout just before entering the forest again.
From Pine Moor through a section of old growth forest brings you out into the last of open country with views of Pelion West. From here there is a slow descent to Frog Flats in the Forth Valley. This should be re-named mosquito flats. A stop here for lunch was short-lived by their persistent attentions.
Crossing the Forth river leads to a long climb out to the button grass plains of Pelion, passing a turn off to the old hut (disused) before coming to the new Pelion Hut. This is the best hut on the track. Beautiful views, lots of space and easy access to the surrounding peaks.
Old Pelion hut.
New Pelion hut.
Water tanks behind the new Pelion hut. Drinkable water usually without treatment.
Panaroma from the new Pelion hut - Mount Oakleigh.
Day 4 to Windy Ridge.
A bit of a stretch since we were passing Kiora hut. We weren't aiming to climb Mt Ossa so had the time. Instead did the Hartness falls. The trail takes in the climbs to two saddles. The first being Pelion gap, the second the DuCane gap. Looking back after Pelion gap some views of Pelion East but none of Ossa.
A brief stop at Kiora hut before heading to our intended destination of Windy Ridge. About an hour beyond Kiora hut we reached the DuCane hut (disused) built years ago by Paddy Hartness (a trapper) out of a single tree.
Went down for lunch at the Hartness falls just below the climb over the DuCane gap. The DuCane gap is the watershed between north and south Tasmania and is the last major climb on the Overland Track.
Day 5 Windy Ridge to Narcissus hut.
An easy half day walk gradually descending the ridge and eventually coming out onto button grass plains by the Narcissus river.
Leaving Windy Ridge hut - credits to the Ranger who took the photo.
We arrived at Narcissus hut midday and tried to book the ferry but it was full.
We arranged to be picked up the next day. A bit of drama then for the next three hours as the whole valley filled with smoke from fire somewhere north (probably the Labyrinth area). The haze got thicker and gradually obscured all the surrounding peaks. We brought our packs down to the river as a precaution. Eventually the smoke haze cleared with a wind change.
It became so hot that despite the freezing cold water we decided to cool off with a swim.
Top end of Lake StClair.
Day 6 Ferry to Lake StClair visitor centre < 1km!!
We took the ferry the next day to finish off the walk and booked some (expensive) accommodation. Hot showers, proper food and a good mattress!
Thanks to Daniel , a great companion, and who carried an extremely heavy rucksack.