Posted by Patrick Melon
4 day hike
Day 1: I flew into Hobart early Sunday morning and caught the shuttle to the city centre. There was enough time to pick up some methylated spirits for cooking before catching the bus to Lake St Clair. Here I had arranged to pick up my national parks pass and also was able to book the midday ferry to Narcissus. I was the only hiker on board the rest were passengers having a tour of this scenic lake. Eventually we arrived at the jetty and I was able to sort my gear out before tackling the three-hour journey to Pine Valley.
The Narcissus hut was closed for long overdue renovations.
The hike into Pine Valley is pleasant enough with no major climbs. It crosses the Narcissus River and button grass fields before arriving at the junction of the Overland and Pine Valley tracks.
The plan was to camp at Pine Valley and the following day to climb the Acropolis. The last time I had been in Pine Valley was at the end of a walk down the Overland track. I managed to take in the Labyrinth, a plateau filled with lakes and tarns with exceptional views in all directions. However the planned climb of the Acropolis was shelved by a fast approaching low pressure system which brought heavy rain and high winds.
They were some hikers completing the Overland track at the hut with the aim of catching the ferry back home the following day. They told me of a party of three who had attempted the Acropolis the day before but turned back below the summit because of a rather steep rock wall.
I set off early the next day heading north to the Cephissus Falls further up the valley. After crossing the creek the track heads east and becomes ever more steep climbing through thick bush. This brings you on to an open and very exposed plateau where Parks and Wildlife have constructed boardwalks to protect the vegetation from erosion.
There are some great examples of Snow gums bent and twisted by the weather.
Leaving the plateau the track enters bush and sections of Pandani.
The weather was cloudy but sections of the cliffs that protect the Acropolis were clearly visible.
Looking back to the south you could see the top end of Lake St Clair overshadowed by Mount Olympus (the top hidden by cloud).
The track becomes rough occasionally marked by snow poles. The rock cairns to discover the tortuous passage through a series of gullies. To the left the mountain is protected by vertical walls and to the front a curious array of rock spires with boulders perched precariously on top.
I eventually came to the crux of the walk which is a two meter rock wall. No great exposure and a quick mantelshelf brings you on top of it. This in fact is just below the summit and a short scramble brings you to the summit area of the Acropolis.
The summit area consists of a jumble of Dolorite boulders covered in blotchy orange lichen.
The track completely disappears and it is essential to follow a series of rock cairns to the peak itself. These are not always easy to find. By now the clouds began to break up and the sun broke through.
The views were terrific in all directions. The Labyrinth with its lakes were clearly visible below to the west. The forbidding cliffs of Mount Geryon can be seen to the north.
Falling Mountain (centre) and the DuCane gap (the saddle right of centre) where the Overland track passes down to the Windy Ridge hut (clearly visible but not in the photo below) completed the views on the east side.
No one else around today so I made a leisurely descent down the steep east side.
From the plateau the track is easy enough to follow back down to Pine Valley. On returning the hut was filled and several parties took up the remaining spare campsites in preparation for climbs the following day to the Labyrinth.
It is hard to find a good spot to take pictures of the Pine Valley hut being surrounded by trees, but a short walk to the helipad brings you out to open button grass fields. From here good views of Mt Gould.
Day 3: After a restful night’s sleep the next day I leapfrogged the Narcissus hut aiming to walk down the west side of Lake St Clair and spent a night at Echo Point hut.
Some interesting fungi on the track to Echo Point
The last time I stayed at Echo Point hut I spent the time fully clothed in my sleeping bag in the hut in freezing conditions before walking out the next day to catch the midday bus to Hobart. By contrast the day was fine and sunny and I chose to camp.
Day 4: The three-hour walk the next day brought me back to the visitor centre where I booked a backpacker’s bunk and enjoyed the luxury of a warm cabin and hot showers.