Going Overland (Part Deux)

Going Overland (Part Deux)

May 22, 2019 0 By AJ

Big Day Out

This is our most efficient morning of the Overland Track so far. On the track at 8.45! There’s even dew on the ground on the way to Pelion Hut.

We all know this day is going to test us in terms of distance and the spike going up to Pelion Hut. Managing injuries may become an issue. A solid hike and another climb – I’ll see how my health goes.

The track leads us off gently on easy-walking plank board, across button grass and into “Pine Forest Moor” – These words are neatly engraved into rock. To be sure, to be sure.

The clear sky and sunny day is spectacular. We can see everything; the mountains, the valleys and the plateau. Perfect scenery on a perfect day.

  • Missed Going Overland Day 1 & 2? Read it here.

Looking back from whence we came, it is part reassuring and part disconcerting that Barn Bluff is still clearly visible. So far to go before reaching Lake St Clair!

Overland Barn Bluff 3
Looking in the rearview-mirror at Barn Bluff and Lake Windermere.
Image courtesy of Stewart Peacock.

The moorland is soft under foot once the gravel track ends. The planks are not maintained or already submerged as the conditions are gradually becoming marshy and muddy.

Grand Designs

Mt Pelion West and Mt Ossa rise up in front of us and Mount Oakley’s jagged spires can now be identified to the far left.

Forth Valley Lookout is a place to view the valley in its post-glacial glory. 

Forth Lookout is the ultimate balcony.

From the lookout we can see the curvature of the valley and how the land has been scraped by ice like sandpaper. The royal blue sky is almost clear from cloud.

Lush emerald-green rainforest takes over as we trek around the lower reaches of Pelion West. This forest is old and dense. I’m reminded of Lord of the Rings with many familiar descriptions. No sign of any Orcs hunting us.

Ancient rainforest with a palette loaded with green.

The day continues to interchange between dense and dark forest and plains with incredible landscape views of expansive proportions. On a clear day like today it is a feast for your eyes.

Overland - Pelion West
Mt Pelion West reigns supreme on the landscape.
Image courtesy of Scott Palin.

A Journey in the Dark

We enter myrtle forest and we feel overseen by the crowding trees. It is very dark, and as quiet as mischievous children.

Pelion Creek is an ideal spot for lunch just on the other side of the sturdy bridge. There are no trolls. We checked. A refill of fresh and clean Tassie water is obligatory. There is surprisingly a minimal amount of insects in the area.

A journey in the dark through twisted roots and myrtle-beech rainforest.
Image courtesy of Scott Palin.

Eventually rays of beaming light in livens up our day as we continue to the lowest part of the track at Frog Flats (we’ve adjusted to calling it Footrot Flats because it’s funny like the comic) and cross the Forth River before the main hike up to Pelion Hut.

Footrot Flats is noted as a camping area in the pre-walk info, but three things strike us. Firstly there is the Forth River gushing away and the land is low and flat…. Perfect for flooding. Plus the camping grounds are not exactly obvious. Insects are abundant. 

We had originally toyed with idea of camping here to break up the big days walk. Definitely not an option. Push on to Pelion Hut.

The Final Hurdle

The true test began now. We are 11 plus kilometres in with 5 to go. Fatigue had set in and our packs felt heavy. A brief snack break fuelled us for the upwards track.

Overland upto Pelion
The only way is up (to Pelion Hut)

It wasn’t long into our ascent when it became obvious that Dad’s sore leg was really holding him back. The long day had taken its toll.

Dad is not one to give in easily. He soldiered on. However, the time comes and we re-weight Dad’s pack to lighten the weight on his achilles. Dad is a trooper.

The trek to Pelion was not as hard as I had mentally prepared for. The graphs and maps indicated a much harder hike up. Make no mistake, it is a welcome sight when we see the junction for Old and “new” Pelion huts.

Pelion is the biggest hut on the track. It caters as a junction point for other walks such as Arm River – an entry point to Mt Ossa.

Day 3 on the Overland track has everything. For the distance walked and with that weather, it is a reward-for-effort trade off I’d make again.

We have scheduled a rest day tomorrow. So we could eat up, rehydrate and rest with impunity.

Magnifique.

R’n’R

The weather forecast suggests there could be a turn in the fortunes on the track over the next few days. As a direct result, there is a push from some other walkers to walk through to Bert Nichols Hut today, bypassing Kia Ora Hut. Many get up really early in the morning to get a start on their walk. 

I wake with a sore back. I slept “wrong”. Somehow I slept on the wooden board of my bunk rather than on my Sea to Summit air mattress.

We wished “happy trails” to the friends we had made who were marching on ahead. 

Our day starts out at a gentle pace. I took some time to take some photos of the super-sweet fogged plain and Mt Oakley laid out before us on the huts veranda, plus generally kick back with a cup of coffee or two.

Early fog wafts across Pelion Plains

We decide to head out to Old Pelion Hut to see what we could see. 

Heading back the way we came to the junction, then out across the track on the plain to reach the old hut.

Old Pelion Hut

Inside the empty hut there is a story book and log book. Like well behaved schoolchildren, Dad, Stewart and I listen eagerly to Tim read (in his best English) sections of the hut’s story.

Overland old pelion story
Story time at Old Pelion Hut

The hut was built in 1917 for the mine manager of the nearby tungsten mine . The mine is long abandoned but is still open for explorers prepared to hike out to it.

Old Pelion then became refuge for the burgeoning grazier, snarer and hunter industries in the high country.

Later it turned into the hikers hut, and according to the log book with scout and school groups visiting.

The Old Pelion Hut was built over 100 years ago and is still standing strong.

The hut had 4 berths, limited floor space and a fireplace. I imagine it would’ve been a very cosy-get-to-know-everyone-kind-of-place.

The stories Tim reads out describe to me how much this area has changed, even just since the National Park was established. It’s a phenomenally harsh environment, where it rains most of the year. The Aborigines who roamed it for centuries and the European settlers who used this land would’ve faced bitterly cold and unfriendly conditions.

Recuperation Lounge

 We returned to the new hut for some real R’nR.

Dad went about his injury management. Tim got about eating. Stewart immersed himself in his book. 

Lunch is taken early. I took a peaceful uninterrupted nap. 

Another Overland Track treat is scheduled today – pancakes with maple syrup! Livin’ large ladies and gents. Livin’ large!

By the afternoon the weather was turning, with squalls of rain coming in over the hut. Walkers were arriving from Arm River (a separate walk) and from Windermere.  Our quiet time was over.

Discussions about our goals for the next few days are held and some disappointing realisations became clear.

Read about Ronny Creek to Windermere Hut