The Overland Track – Day Six

Day Six!

Hello! Finally had a chance to get the last images done to wrap up this amazing hike.

Morning at Windy Ridge was beautiful. The sun hitting the mountains and watching the clouds roll over them was a fabulous way to start the day

 

We packed our gear for the last time – we were aiming to get the ferry at the next hut and finish our journey. We hadn’t booked it though, so it was a bit of pot-luck.

No more crazy uphills for todays walk. We were heading to Narcissus which was a pretty gentle walk down the glaciers path. Lots of wonky paths and small streams to cross but nothing to test us like the rest of the hike.

Interesting – white lichen!
Banksia
This was a sensible bridge
Other crossings mean balancing on rocks – not so straightforward with the big packs on!

An easy one

I couldn’t find in my book what this berry was. Great colour tho

We had a lot more of these smoother paths under our feet on the last day

Even though it was a short day, we still adhered to our ‘packs down every hour’ rule

All of a sudden we were in open country again

We reached the little suspension bridge and we knew Narcissus Hut wasn’t far away. Felt a bit weird though – like I hadn’t done enough work for it to be over!

Narcissus River

It was a hot day and the river looked rather inviting.

Rachel had gone ahead today and the hike was too short for us to catch her! But she had gone and arranged the ferry – almost. She had passage for Jeff and the three packs – but Rachel and I had to pack day packs in case the ferry had a couple of no-shows before we knew if we would be taking the 30 minute ride to the end, or doing the 17km walk!

Plenty of people were taking a well earned dip in the lake while waiting for the ferry

This young lady – one of the guides – was on her last of possibly 60-100 of these hikes! (she has lost count!!) Apparently rain, hail or shine, she jumps off the jetty!

Our ride arrived and happily for us, the people that didn’t confirm earlier still hadn’t showed, so we could all jump on board together

Pretty pleased with ourselves!
Lake St Clair
The End!!

So – back to the car, which was happily where we left it and full of cake, drinks and biscuits!

It was really one of the best things I have done – despite the pain and tiredness at times, the positives far outweighed those discomforts.
There is something beautifully simple about getting up, putting your gear on your back and walking to your next sleeping spot. Eating, sleeping, then doing it all again. No chores to worry about, nothing from your usual life can be done, so you narrow down your focus and enjoy the breathtaking and stunning scenery before you.

Thanks for reading about the adventure – We are very keen to do it again some day!!

A bit proud of ourselves!

All The Home Comforts

Hello!
We have been running about doing boring but necessary things today. Not so bloggable. (OK – the visit to Ruby and Margie with coffee and cake wasn’t at all boring but I didn’t have my camera with me!!)
Neither have I had a chance to post process our last days hike on the Overland.
Just thought I would speed blog tonight by telling you a bit about the campsites and their facilities.

The huts varied quite a bit in size from location to location, but they were all really sturdy and comfortable.
Inside there was a large area with tables and cooking areas for people wanting to prepare food and eat inside at normal tables

Even people who stayed in their tents made use of the huts to store their packs away from marauding possums or just out of the weather. Plenty of clothes/tents/shoes were stored in the dry.
Inside was a comfortable place and fun to get to know fellow hikers.

Each hut had a room or several rooms dedicated to the generous sized sleeping platforms. Quite a number of the hikers opted to solely use the huts for sleeping rather than setting up tents each night. Tents were still a required part of your kit though – space in the hut is not guaranteed, and is also a safety factor in case you get caught out in the weather and have to make an emergency camp somewhere.

Any roof surface had a catchment to rainwater tanks. This was drinking water, and the tanks that had a grease trap under them (pictured above) was the place you brushed your teeth and washed your dishes.
Some people filtered their water – others (like Jeff and myself who regularly drink our own unfiltered rainwater) didn’t bother.

Each hut (except the first) had tent platforms for the campers. Chains along with extra ropes helped secure the tents. We were dubious about using them at first but then found them quite convenient – as sitting on the platforms, sorting your pack and gear was a lot less messy than in the damp muddy grounds fending off leeches.

Also, almost all the huts had a helipad. Used for bringing in supplies and removing the toilet waste. Also for emergency airlift in case of accidents and that kind of thing. (and the perfect platforms for star gazing too!)

And that brings me to the long-drop dunnies!

Composting toilets

No flush long drop composting toilets (dunny if you want the Australian colloquial term) were what you had available and really – they weren’t at all bad.
Ok… the older one at the first camp had an eye-watering ammonia smell that stayed with you for at least 15 minutes after leaving… however the one pictured above had no smell whatsoever!
Leftover food or any compostable item was to be put down the toilet. No feeding the wildlife and any rubbish you take in – you take right back out again with you. It was amazing – in the whole trek we came across no rubbish at all! People were clearly doing the right thing.

Once full – these containers of waste material get airlifted out and used as landfill elsewhere.

Yes I left the seat down for the photo (You’re welcome – I figured there was only so much information you needed)
But as you can see – pretty simple and clean.

Barrels of rice hulls were set in each toilet, so after doing your thing, you were meant to put one scoop of husks down the long drop. It helped dry the matter out and speed up the composting process.

Each lot of toilets had their own little proverb or poem – all poo or wee related!! I wish I had realised this earlier as I would have gotten photos of them all. Especially the one about the Wombat Poo which was quite amusing.
Something to get next time I suppose.

I also noticed that the water tank information signs also had a water – related proverb on each one too.
The one I remember said “Thousands of people have lived life without love, but not one has lived without water.”

It’s not all roughing it – you can pay the private operators 2-3 grand and not worry about carrying food and sleeping gear. They had their own huts – mattresses on the platforms and dinner cooked for them each night, wine included, and hot showers!
Talk about living it up!! 🙂
Still… if you have the money it makes the adventure physically accessible for older people who wouldn’t be able to carry what we did and rough it as much.
It just meant we met a wider variety of people out on the track and their guides were friendly and very generous with their information (and at one point – chocolate!!) mmmmm

Hope you enjoyed a little insight as to what facilities were available to us during our hike!

Cheers!

 

The Overland Track – Day Five

That would be day 5

Day Five kept up the beautiful weather. The start of the walk was crisp, cool and sunny – and was a nice gentle sort of terrain too.
We were making the 9.6km hike over to Windy Ridge and also planned a couple of detours to see the local waterfalls.

Occasionally we would break out into the light, but most of the walk up to the waterfall crossroads were forested areas

We kept up our rule of packs down every hour.
The mottled light was still giving my camera a headache 🙂

We came across one of the historic huts – Du Cane Hut. Built in 1910 by Paddy Harnett, who was a snarer, miner and bushman.

Du Cane Hut

 

We found Rachel at the crossroads to the first waterfalls, abandoned our packs and took a walk down to check them out.

Walking off a cliff!
D’Alton Falls

The first falls (and the prettiest) we got to was D’Alton.
It was quite the view from the ledge we were perched on

It was pretty great sitting here and soaking up the view
If you leaned out far enough you could see back down the river

Scrambling back up the side of the hill – using handy tree roots as ladder-rungs – we walked over to Fergusson Falls

Not as picturesque but still fabulous to sit by it and get deafened by the roar

And why not clamber down the edge to get a better view and a photo?

Back at the top to collect our packs and seek out the next waterfall

Leatherwood

One of the group guides, Nick, pointed out to us the leatherwood tree blossoms. While it flowers, no other trees do. Bee keepers move their apiaries into areas where the trees are to get leatherwood honey.

Again – great to take a walk sans packs!

Heading off to find Harnett Falls

Some more clear advice about cliffs and how not to fall off them

 

At the top of the falls there was a great little spot to sit, relax, dunk your feet or head in the water and generally enjoy.

Jeff’s pained expression tells us the water was cold.

I lay back and soaked my head in the water and it felt sooooo good!

Rachel photosynthesised.

One of the guided groups sensibly had their lunch down here!

A few of our fellow hikers highly recommended we expend the extra energy and take ourselves down the path to the bottom of the falls.
We are so glad we did. Even though it looked like a long way down (you have to think ahead – going a long way down inevitably means you have to haul yourself back UP again!)

But it was beautiful.

The clifftops seemed to loom over head.

 

Time to get back to our packs and continue out hike over to Windy Ridge. The waterfalls were only a little over half way there.
And it mostly went up.
And up.

Most of the pathways were lined with oversized rocks which was challenging for my short legs. Not least because today I took on ‘tent duty’
The extra weight was ok, but getting that weight up two foot high ‘steps’ gave my legs quite the workout! I started to get quite whingy about when the ‘up’ was going to turn into ‘down’!!

I was so thrilled to finally come across a section of boardwalk that was flat I had to stop and savour the moment. (and take a photo)

That is a track, not a dried up river bed, despite appearances

Going down had its own challenges. Balance for one!

Amazing burls on this tree!

It was a pretty walk down to Windy Ridge Hut and camping areas, but again – nice to find our platform and set up camp and take the boots off!

Our view directly above our campsite

Nothing more to do than have some dinner and watch the sun set over the Du Cane Ranges.
Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

The Overland Track – Day Four

We woke up to a clear but frosty morning at Pelion Hut! I dashed (as much as I dash in the morning anyway) out to take a few photos before getting packed up to start on todays walk.

Mt Oakleigh looking beautiful in the morning light

Carefully treading the frosty boardwalks

Bleargh! Leech full of Jeff-blood!

Day four was our favourite day. We were to hike for 8.6km from Pelion to Kia Ora Hut. It took us about 4 hours or so, and was a really beautiful relaxed day.
The sun was out – although the mottled light through the trees made the photographer in me twitch…

Again, Rachel set off that little bit earlier than us, but it didn’t take too long for us to catch up with her today.

Jeff with Sarah and Siobhan ahead – we enjoyed meeting different people during our trek
Dodgy looking ‘bridges’

A quick side trip down to see a waterfall, which is where we found Rachel today.

As usual during the day, we passed through various landscapes – hard to get bored up here!

We made the mistake yesterday of pushing on far too long without a break. We decided to make it a new company policy to stop on the hour and take the packs off to stretch. This really made a big difference.

Shoulder break time
Designs of a fallen tree
Plenty of creeks to refill the water bottles

Tree root steps

Then we are back to ‘rough track’
And a bit of leg relief back on boardwalks again (Hello – caught up to the girls again!)

 

Jeff doing his hair… er, maybe topping up on sunscreen

We got to the top of an ongoing upwards hike finally. It was kind of a saddle between two options of sidetrips up mountains. We took option C and continued straight down (DOWN being operative word here) to the hut.

Park Ranger waiting

We met a ranger at the platform who was trying to convince everyone to hike up ‘Doris’ I think the mountain was called. I wasn’t swayed.
Actually he was there waiting for some runners who hadn’t paid the Overland Track fee.
Yes – runners.
A number of people run the whole track in a day!! Sheer madness. Apparently about 50% of the runners try to avoid paying the extra $200 fee to hike this track. Sadly for them, when caught, the fine is $400.
The people in question had been seen leaving Ronnie Creek at 5am and given the option to turn back at the first hut.
Every year in February there is a race. The record time for the track is just over 7 hours!!!!
You would have to be insanely fit and agile to do this!

Commemorating day 4

We put the packs on and (without running) headed down the other side for Kia Ora.

I like going down or across. I am good at it.

One of 5 runners that passed us that day!

Kia Ora hut in distance – long drop dunny in foreground!

We were pretty much first in and found a nice snug little tent platform and made ourselves right at home

Jeff and I even went for a dip! And was the water bracing!! Wow

I got up to my waist, and dunked my head and hair in… but couldn’t quite come at totally submerging! There is a line between refreshing and snap-freezing. But it did feel good. My hair was feeling a bit feral.

Standing on the helipad checking out my options for a planned night photography session

Getting rugged up and waiting for nightfall

Later that night after my star photos, I got back to the tent and had to shoo a determined possum who was trying to get into Jeff’s bag. I had put my pack in the hut as usual. Jeff then removed the pack after having to spank the possum on the bum to get it to move! (Signs around the place say to maintain a respectful distance and observe animals quietly haha)
But he left his boot full of used ziplocks that the possum got straight back into!!! Sigh… there is me running about in a t-shirt and thermal pants putting his boots in the hut only to come back to find the possum trying to eat its way through the soap bag!!
Having images of said possum running about the bush blowing bubbles out of its nose!
Once that was removed there was nothing more of interest and the rest of the night was nice and peaceful!

Cheers

 

 

 

The Overland Track – Day Three

Pademelons having breakfast by the hut, unfazed by the hikers

Hello – welcome to day three of our Overland Track hike!
Today started very soggily with steady rain and packing up wet tents.
The fellow, Greg, in the tent on the platform beside us had a bit of bad luck during the night. A local possum actually ripped its way into his tent, dragged out his pack and helped itself to a day and a half’s worth of food!!
I desperately tried to offload some of ours to him, (thinking to lighten the pack) but he said no matter – his wife reckoned he was getting a pot so the extra rations were meant to do him good!

Today we were leaving the beautiful camping area at Windermere and heading out on the 16.8km stroll over to Pelion.
The rain made everything look so beautiful

Today was Jeff’s most challenging day. He had so far gained little sleep and started off the day – to be totally frank – really crabby!!
Rachel got her gear packed a lot quicker and set out ahead so she could take plenty of shoulder breaks.
‘We’ (ie Jeff) fussed about a lot longer getting everything ready to go.

The clouds just sat on the hills as we walked on by

We crossed numerous streams and creeks today. We were glad of the advice to only carry a litre container. Anything more would have been a waste of energy.

After being out on open heathland, we suddenly found ourselves in more dense forests. The paths became tricky underfoot

Yes – that’s a path

Especially in the wet – this kind of path slows you down a bit. Not only do you have to maintain your footing, but getting a little off balance with the heavy pack on your back can make you over correct somewhat. Best to go steady.

After a short forest stint it was a relief to see the more stable boardwalks again

There was a short offshoot track to a lookout – so I thought I would dash across to get you a photo

Sound advice. Don’t fall off the cliff.

Sadly the fog arrived exactly when I did. Hope you like the non-view I got for you –

I tried.

Time to stop playing on cliff edges in the fog and move on. Almost straight into forests again. The pathway got more and more dramatic underfoot!

It was hard work, but so beautiful

ahhhh – bliss! A bit of boardwalk!

Time for a water bottle top-up!

The sun is finally starting to try to make a breakthrough

Despite the mud puddles, you are not meant to walk around them to avoid them. The more people walk around the more the path widens and the greater impact humans will have on this beautiful area. Sometimes it was hard to find the best way through.

I can still get a smile!

One of the numerous streams crossed today!
So pleased to see a bit of blue sky appearing above us

Snatching a bit of view as we walk out into a bit of a clearing
Then back to our muddy bush paths

The Forth River

Sometimes it was hard to determine exactly where the path was.

Seems we finally caught up to Rachel!

I think this area is the myrtle-beech rainforest.

Todays walk was estimated between 5-7 hours. We certainly took at least 7 I think! The hardest part is towards the end of the day – there aren’t any signs to tell you where you are or how far you have to go. It’s a little disconcerting not knowing if you have 20 minutes left or 2 hours!

Still – there is enough beautiful scenery to distract you.

Yep – that is also a path!!

Finally (finally!!!) we came to Pelion Hut! I can’t tell you how amazing it was to dump down the packs and get our shoes off!

Jeff and I decided to sleep in the hut that night, but we put the tent up to give it some drying time since it got packed up wet that morning

Pelion Hut was situated in the most glorious spot! The veranda was epic

The view stunning

Mt Oakleigh

Plenty of furry visitors

For a change we took advantage of proper seats and cooked and ate inside.

It wasn’t bad sleeping in the hut for a change.

Time to try to get a good sleep ready for another day on the track in the morning!

Cheers!

Mt Oakleigh – several of the hikers went up this mountain as a side trip!! By the time I had finished that day’s walk I considered a walk to the toilet as almost too far, so I admired from a distance!

Overland Track – Day Two

Misty morning

Despite being pretty tired the night before, none of us slept exceptionally well. I found I woke myself up every time I needed to turn over!
I had left my pack in one of the huts to keep it safe from hungry wildlife, as my pack had most of the food.
It was a horrible shock putting it on my shoulders when I collected it in the morning! Ow!

Rachel packed and ready to move
Tasmanian Native Hen – noisy honking bird!!

Time to say goodbye to Waterfall Valley and start the trek towards Windermere. 7.8kms and a lot less climbing.

On the track seeing our last look at the Waterfall Valley Huts

The day was grey and misty and quite pretty – a change from the hot sun from the day before. Landscapes loomed out of the gloom and the colours seemed more saturated and interesting.

Today was Rachel’s tough day. The extended walk yesterday and the weight of the pack gave her shoulders a really tough time. To the point where I could see them swollen through her t-shirt! Concerned about long term damage, she wasn’t sure if going forward was the right thing to do.

We took plenty of breaks, talked through options and took our time.

Stopping to simply look around our world was wonderful.

We aimed to get to Lake Will (our lunch spot) before making any decisions on what Rachel was going to do. In the meantime, Jeff kept her entertained with stories and I kept taking the photos!

Like the day before, the terrain constantly changed as we traipsed along.

The damp weather brought out the best in the colours of the trees

By the time we reached the junction to take a walk over to Lake Will, Rachel’s spirits had risen considerably – even though the pain hadn’t lessened all that much.
We left Jeff, who made himself a coffee, and our packs to do the short walk to see the lake.

It was so nice to be pack-less! A walk sans 20kgs on your back is rather blissful!

Lake Will

Plenty of hikers were taking the opportunity for a swim! I can only imagine how ‘refreshing’ this must have been!

Short break over, time to get the packs back on and keep heading towards Windermere.

Not a grave – but a marker for Lake Holmes

Plenty of fabulous lichen & mosses everywhere

Our little party got strung out for a while – Jeff went on ahead for a while as standing was making his feet hurt. Rachel kept her pace and of course I fell behind with my camera, swooning over the beautiful landscapes before me!

Hardy plants literally grow out of the rocks
Lakes on multiple levels!

We eventually caught up to Jeff and all got back together again

Snow gums are so twisty and beautiful

A glimpse of the track before us

The boardwalks gave way to (slightly unstable) rocky pathways

Packs down – take five!

Often when we stopped for a drink or breather but didn’t actually take the packs off, we would bend over and let our backs take the weight off our shoulders for a minute. It was a good way to get some shoulder-relief.

Windermere Hut and camping platforms were tucked away in a beautiful little area

Boardwalks leading to tent platforms
Windermere Hut – sleeps 16
Tent platforms

Rachel chose a nice sheltered platform and shed her bag and took a moment to reflect! (er – maybe she was passed out??)

Our platform was tucked away in a corner, overlooked by a pandani family and their friends

I think these two are in love…

We could have had a platform with Lake Views –

But we figured we would be in our sleeping bags hopefully asleep just as soon as dinner was done. Plus – the wind was getting up and this is the tent next door being flattened by it.

The platforms were really actually a lot better than I thought. They had chains to tie down the tents and the boards provided a good place to sit/lay down or spread things about and not get muddy. (Or, more importantly – leeched)

Lunch first. I got extra points for hauling along fresh tomatoes, mayo & my relish!

Best part of the day was ‘Snicker Ration Time’

This meant we had happy campers!

It’s no different in the wilderness than it is in town. You make dinner and unexpected guests turn up looking for a feed!

Time for bed!

Cheers

The Overland Track – Day One

The Overland Track was an amazing hike. We did 65km over 6 days, through a variety of landscapes carrying packs close to 20kg each.
There was three in our little party – My husband Jeff (doubling as resident nurse), our friend Rachel and myself.

More than 8000 people from more than 50 countries walk this track each year. It was an added bonus getting to know other hikers from around Australia and the world as we would meet up at huts or pass (or in our case get passed) along the tracks.

The weather on our first day was brilliant! Warm to hot with clear blue skies! We started out at Ronnie Creek and set off up the boardwalk – a nice gentle start.
The weight on our shoulders was a bit of a shock – but with a bit of pack/strap adjusting we got most of the weight to settle on our hips.

Wombat hides under our feet

I think a lot of people who have done this trek agree that the first days hike into Waterfall Valley is the most challenging of the 6 days. A total of 10.7kms with an especially steep ascent to get to Marion’s Lookout. (1250m)

It was the start of the going up sections I began to struggle. The first half of the first day was my biggest challenge. Apart from not being a speedy ‘going up’ person, I think I had managed to get myself a little over-anxious about getting organised and I was pretty nauseous pretty much until we got to Marion’s Lookout. My Nurse was fairly concerned as its not the kind of exercise you can do for long periods of time if you can’t even keep water in your stomach!!

The views just kept getting better and better, which mostly made up for my ‘slight’ indisposition.

Jeff and Rachel were fantastically patient. We took the last lot of insane stairs/chains up at a pretty slow pace.

 

Time to get the packs off for a break and enjoy the breathtaking views. From here, for myself, the water started staying down and I was feeling 100% better.

Time to set off across the glacial landscape under the looming mass of Cradle Mt itself

One of the great things about this hike is the plentiful beautiful fresh water available. Some people filtered their water, but Jeff and I took ours straight from the icy cold streams at every opportunity.

Water top up time

Jeff took some time to duct-tape up some developing blisters.

Rachel ready to set off again

Mostly I took last place. Especially after I had been bumped into a few times as I stopped without warning to take photos!

We reached Kitchen Hut and took the packs off for a short break.

A lot of people leave their main packs here and head up Cradle Mt itself. Its a fairly steep and challenging climb and we opted just to keep to the main walk for our first day.

This hut possibly gets a bit snowed in in winter!

Baby tiger snake

With the beautiful weather I am surprised we didn’t encounter more snakes on our walk. We did see one other large tiger snake a few days into the walk but that was it.

The track surface varied as much as the landscape. There were the easy boardwalks & steps

Rocky pathways

Old boarded walks that were coming apart

And some really challenging ‘choose your own adventure’ paths. Negotiating the rocks and tree roots could be a slow process at times – especially towards the end of the day when you were getting a bit weary!

The landscape kept changing and challenging us in different ways. When you spent time watching your feet you had to remember to stop, look up and around to appreciate where you were.

When you do this for the first time, its difficult to gauge how much further you had to go before finding the huts and camping sites. I think we were on the go for about 8 hours that first day!

Sometimes you just need a quick cat-nap to recharge your batteries

Back to boardwalks was a bit of a relief! But the wind up here was pretty fierce and kept pushing us off the paths!

We finally started the descent which we assumed to be down into Waterfall Valley – our first camp.

Down through the pandani lined paths. Pandani is part of the heath family and is one of the tallest heaths in the world. I just think they have great looking hair-dos.

Bleached white skeletons or ‘stags’ of native pines that were burnt decades ago – apparently some would have been over 1000 years old

At last a sign and the huts are in sight!

We were greeted by one of the rangers who gave us general information on where to camp and rules about using the huts, water and toilets. (More on that later)
We were pretty keen to set up our tents, get some dinner and pass out for the night!

Other campers getting set for the evening
Old Waterfall Valley Hut (Sleeps 4)
Jeff prepares dinner

We made it through day one – Time to crawl into our sleeping bags and get some rest ready for day two!

Cheers!

Small sunset over Barn Bluff

Home. Safe, Sound & (slightly) Skinnier.

Hello!! Did you miss me?? 😀

Wow… It’s hard to know where to start describing this 65km hike (40 miles). It was amazing, beautiful, tough, stunning & challenging.
We did 6 days traipsing through an incredibly diverse landscape, with tracks that varied from boardwalks to natural paths, boulder scrambles, tree-root lined & swampy puddles.

We lucked out with the weather! Only one rainy misty day which really was beautiful in itself.

I have so many photos to share! Be afraid!
We got back home last night (Sunday evening) after picking up our car at the end, then diverting back to Cradle Mt to collect the car we dropped ourselves off with. We had the most beautiful shower in the world and slept like the dead!

I did take time to choose 5 images out of over 1000 to quickly share. I have a lot of work ahead of me to sort the rest!
I figured I would give you a day by day post about what happened and a second back up post for the remaining photos from that day for the die hard among you that want to see an excessive amount of images!

But for now… there is a whole garden of tomatoes to pick and laundry to get done!

Cheers!