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Ferry at the top of the Garden (Day 8)

July 16, 2013

ferry290We wake to silent, floating, heavy snow, and  pick our way through a couple of inches of laid down flakes from our accommodation to the visitors centre across the road. A bacon and egg roll and a hot coffee made by someone else seems like a perverse luxury but it stops no one at all. It’s an indulgence we are all prepared to take after a week of home cooking on the track.  We have plenty of time to wait for Paul. I spoke with him last night from a pay phone since the wireless connections made for indecipherable conversations. He says he will aim to be here at 1100 but wanted to know what the road was like. I told him it was snowing in earnest. He said he would throw in the chains and hope that the road was clear in the morning.  I walked back from the pay phone thankful that we had cleared up the last connection we had to make but regretting not bringing a head torch. I walked in the dark by feel back to the communal kitchen – if I couldn’t feel the snow under my feet I veered back into it. The road was covered in the stuff but the forest canopy was keeping the worst of it from coming through. It seemed to work and I arrived back at the kitchen to that roaring fire and the pleasant company of walk weary but very satisfied trekkers. Read more

Softly Battered (Day 7)

July 16, 2013

khut290We aimed for a 7.30 start and were on the track by 0740. Heads down into a smashing wind right from the beginning. The first leg was only five kilometres but it was across open moor along an exposed ridgeline and that nor’wester hammered us as hard as it could. I watched pack covers ahead of me ripple and shimmer. Walkers, myself included would pause in mid step as gusts hit them least they get blown off the boardwalk. Sometimes the wind caught us unawares and we were off anyway. We were aiming for Kitchen Hut from which we plan to launch a run up Cradle Mountain. Read more

Waterfalls at Every Height (Day 6)

July 13, 2013

wvhut290I woke a couple of times through the night and listened for the rain on the roof. Nothing. Only fog at 0300 as I stand in the silence in bare feet on the path just up from the hut. Snow is forecast for the next two days, so says one of the trekkers who landed in here last night. Our 0545 wake up came around too early but it was easy to get going – I think I discovered the sleeping bag was working to its limits and I was a little more chilled than I usually am at these temperatures.  After a rest day we are out of the hut at 0710. That is a great effort – up, breakfast cooked, packs repacked and everyone saddled up. By now we are in the good community discipline of doing this in silence so we don’t disrupt the other trekkers who are not getting going so early. However the school group leader is up at 0600 too, though she rues the fact that we are walking out after only an hour of preparation when her team takes two hours or more. Still,  she didn’t seem too bothered. I think she was just happy that she had such a keen and eager group of students. I was impressed – there was not a single grumpy one among them as they piled onto the hut verandah the previous day and tried to get out of the rain. Read more

A Short Pelion (Day 5)

July 11, 2013

oakleigh290We have had two long days. Seventeen kilometres followed by eighteen kilometres. The weather was kind to us on day one with only light rain. But yesterday ‘occasional showers’ clearly meant ‘it will rain steadily for 24 hours apart from a ten minute break which will not be the same ten minutes in which you decide to make a barefoot trek to the toilet’. So we decided that today will be a short day. Only three hours over a nice short distance of eight kilometres. It’s an indulgence alright but I’m looking at how we best arrive at Cradle Mountain, aiming to make a side trip up that mound of rock if we can.  The decision to break the trip up this way is partly informed by the lack of accommodation at Ronny Creek. Read more

Hello Kia Ora (Day 4)

July 9, 2013

kiaora290I surface every now and then and listen to the driving rain on the tin roof. Inside the hut our breath blew billows of fog the evening before – this sleeping area, even with the stove on would be only three or four degrees. But I am snug in my sleeping bag and hope everyone else is warm as well. There is nothing worse than being cold at night – it disrupts sleep and makes getting started the next day so much harder. We get organized under the light of so many headlamps and pretty much in complete silence since David and his partner (she whose name I cannot remember, but hailed from Dunedin of all places) were planning on sleeping in. I enjoyed watching the lights floating about in the darkness and was impressed with how well organised everyone was for their first morning on the track. Some still have to sort out a routine that does not require them to completely empty the pack each day and repack it each morning. That is a matter of pack design but also some track experience. Read more

Reflective Narcissus (Day 3)

July 8, 2013

narcissus290Everyone is up and ready to go and we are under way, crunching into the bush by 0740 . We were aiming to be gone by 0700 but it takes a while to shake down routines and I am relaxed about the timetable. After all,  as I remind the group, we are not on a military selection course or boot camp. Despite that, I also remind them we need to get away reasonably early so we are not caught at the end of the day walking in the dark. The forest is misty and the light curtain of cloud hangs out of the tall eucalyptus and wraps around the tops of the hills. The lake is murmured by a light breeze that makes the start invigorating but makes it hard to turn the engine over. The only cure for that is to get cracking. We walk into a dark forest and I am relieved that we are under way at last. We have been on the road, and hanging out on a ferry, then driving across Tasmania but not until now is there a sense that the trek is actually happening. Read more

Fair St Clair (Day 2)

July 7, 2013

mcgee290 The lights snap on forty five minutes prior to our arrival and the tannoy announces we will disembark by 0630. Now, what deck was I parked on again? I head downstairs to the car deck just in case I need to be there – better early than late I figure. And just as well, as I am barely in the car and I am asked to start up and exit the deck. Would have been a tad embarrassing to hold everyone up. I swing past the passenger terminal and collect Jim and Kim and their gear, then sit in the carpark as we wait for Chris to exit the boat. We had been ‘sold’ a cooked breakfast by a woman standing at the exit handing out fliers for her little café up the road. In the cold dark of the early morning it seemed like a tough way to market the business but by the time we team up with Chris and drive past her café it has a long queue at the counter. Her marketing seems to have paid off. Read more

Heading to the Overland Track (Day 1)

July 6, 2013

track290My seat jostles like an old man anxious to get his bet on the race before it’s too late – tapping and jigging and hopping about in time to the engines deep in the heart of this steel beast. The swell starts to gently pull us across the dance floor and we sway from side to side while every now and then the tail slews left or right as someone up on the bridge makes an adjustment, and lights on the horizon slide first one way then the next as they slowly drop into the inky blackness and then out of sight. Now I can no longer tell what is ocean and what is sky. We bore on into the night, aiming for Tasmania and the Overland Track. Read more

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