Saturday, 23 April 2011

Overland Track - 15th to 21st April

Got back on Thursday evening from the Overland Track. Third time walking it properly from the start, and had the best weather of any of those trips. Lots of photos were taken, and I've put a selection from across the days and places in here. I met Sue and her friends Mark, Deb and Anne from Geelong. Sue runs this website with her husband Frank. I've bought their Food To Go e-book, because these people ate better than everyone else, particularly me. Sue's friend Deb seems to be the chief outdoor gourmet, and has lots of wonderful ideas for cooking nice things far from home. They also put out a guide to doing the Overland Track for people who have to work out the logistics - mainly I think this would be useful for people who are not from Tasmania and are not sure what to expect in getting to Cradle Mountain and walking the Overland Track for the first time. You can buy their two books together at a good discount.

The track has been improved (read: duckboarded) in many places since I last did it (2003 or 2004 I think) but other bits have also deteriorated. Frog Flats to Pelion and then just before Kia-Ora seemed most obvious to me as being worse, and the ranger confirmed that both these parts have suffered over the recent high season when it was both unusually wet for summer and the track had the usual very high summer traffic.

I note that despite the best efforts of everyone, people still manage to start (and generally, safely complete) this walk without fundamental items of equipment and little understanding of what they are going to find along the way.

I hadn't seen the Bert Nicholls Hut at Windy Ridge before. This has received mixed reviews. It's large and of a somewhat more complex design than other huts. They say it's a great summer hut, but too cold and impersonal in winter. I understand original complaints about the hut involved the inability of the old Windy Ridge coal stove to heat the cavernous kitchen/dining room area. This has been replaced by a wood heater, which didn't do a bad job, on an admittedly cool but non-freezing evening. Anyway, you'd have to see it for yourself - it's quite grandiose, and the other evening did a fine job of accommodating about 25 people for dinner. I didn't try out the bedrooms as I much prefer tenting for actual sleeping.

All in all, a great walk still, and the scenery and ambience remain wonderful. I managed to climb both Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa, but was thwarted by mist and drizzle in my desire to climb Walled Mountain in the Labyrinth - another day for that one. I came out a day early rather than sit and watch the drizzle from the Pine Valley hut, eating the remains of my non-gourmet bushwalking diet.

Setting sun on Cradle Mountain from the Little Plateau - 15th April 2011

Sunset on Cradle Mountain from the Little Plateau - 15th April 2011

Barn Bluff from Lake Windermere at sunset - 16th April 2011

Mount Oakleigh from Pelion Hut at sunset - 17th April 2011

Mount Hyperion from the slopes of Mount Ossa - 18th April 2011

Hartnett Falls - 19th April 2011

Cephissus Falls, Pine Valley - 20th April 2011


Le Loup said...

Beautiful scenery.

Frank and Sue said...

Gorgeous pics of a stunning part of the world. Makes me want to be out there, even though there is some serious weather happening.

Mark said...

Hi Le Loup. Yes, thanks, the Overland Track is amongst the best.

Hi Frank and Sue, thanks, and I hope Bruny Island is treating you well. Enjoy! Sue: This blog post of mine sometime ago is about a lengthy walk south towards Cape Bruny. You can do shorter bits of it though, as I think you said you only wanted to do little walks. Google map here.

Frank and Sue said...

Regarding your comment about safety and luck. We had a family of 4 (dad, mum, 2 children 10 and 12) turn up at Narcissus Hut at about 9ish last Wed night. It was chilly and drizzling. They had left KiaOra 12 hours earlier, spent 45 mins at Du Cane Hut and visited all the falls arriving at Bert Nichols at about 4pm. They had a snack and decided to continue, with the intention of camping if the weather deteriorated. They discovered after the Pine Valley turnoff there is no campsites, especially for 4 and had to keep going. Mum was really struggling and came in about 15 mins after the dad and kids. Dad was wearing corduroy pants and a flannelette shirt as was the boy, the children were wearing runners and plastic raincoats. I feel that these people were very lucky and that if the temp drop a couple of degrees or if the rain got heavier they may have been in trouble. Dad had done the walk as a youngster and was hell bent on replicating the experience with his kids. Very well meaning but.......

Mark said...

Don't know why you'd inflict a 12-hour walking day on 10 and 12-year old children. Or anyone really, it's just unnecessary. You could get up early the next day and still be at Narcissus around the time of the first boat.

Also, when people take 4 to 5 hours to cover Windy Ridge to Narcissus, you've got to think they're operating much too slowly and are likely to get cold as a result of that. This would be especially so in the rain and dark.

Mind you, I can do Windy Ridge to Narcissus in around 2 hours if I get in the swing, so leaving Windy Ridge at 4pm would be feasible. Obviously not for these people, in the gathering dark.

Oh, and cords sound just the ticket!