The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 1

So many adventures in this big, wide, world and just never enough time to do them all.  Sometimes a girl just needs to outsource some adventures, so when I heard a couple of my oldest friends were planning for a Christmas/New Year’s adventure in Tasmania I gleefully waited for all the details and photos from their hike and decided that I just had to share it on the blog.  This would have to be one of the great walks in Australia and after reading this adventure I have to admit that I am just itching to do it myself.  I will let my friend Katie tell the story in her words, it is a great read…..

Our ADVENTURE  – The Overland Track, Tasmania

So I can’t remember how it actually went down … but let’s say it was something like this…

Ange/Katie – Lets do something for Christmas holidays.

Ange – I have always wanted to the Overland Track in Tassie

Katie – I have never done an overnight hike before … I’d been keen!

Ange/Katie – Ok – let’s lock it in. Maybe we should do some research.

Yup – that’s right … COMMIT before you do your research!!

So the flights and the track was all locked in mid 2014 (pretty proud of how organised we were), with details to be finalised later when we had done some of our research on what else we would do whilst down in Tassie. But for now it was all about what gear I would need for the trek and the all important “training”!!! So working around Ange and my life schedules we booked in 3 weekends to head out and about to get some kilometres behind us and to get some practice in with some loaded up backpacks (which we assumed would be our biggest issue).

So…. even after all that planning … we successfully achieved a whole “1” of our scheduled training weekends! Yup … nothing like some solid training … he he! Look … we did fit a couple of day hikes in as well, but I tell you what….  in hindsight it would have been really beneficial to do a few more hikes WITH that bag!!   (All those good intentions)

So … the “1” hike we did fit in was really great as I got to check out the nifty gadgets and gear that Ange has accumulated from her tramping days in New Zealand – which really helped me work out what I would still need to buy. I also got to test out my ability to put up my new fang dangled hiking tent and how well I would sleep on my little (1 inch thick) red hiking mat! Let’s be honest … my expectations weren’t high for this one … but it did the trick!! Thou we did both purchase an inflatable pillow, after that little overnight crink in the neck, we weren’t prepared to do 5 nights without this little luxury!  All in all it was a fabulous little weekend – we did manage to 5km on the Saturday afternoon and 16km on the Sunday (up a hill that just kept going and going)! We were both pretty exhausted but we did realise that we were both pretty prepared mentally and physically to get through the hike.  Our only issue was having some bruised hips from where our bags sat…. we kind of accepted that this will probably be an ongoing problem and that we would have to deal with on the track (and we did have to).

Looking back now … I really enjoyed the researching and the preparation (or lack of if you think of the practice hikes) buying the gear, sorting out logistics, accommodation, food and then the planning of the remainder of our holiday! It really is all about the WHOLE journey!!

At last our adventure begins on the ….

Overland Track

Day 01 – Cradle Mountain to Waterfall Valley

I couldn’t believe the day had arrived and we were sitting on the bus heading from Launceston to Cradle Mountain and the start of the Overland Track – wooohoooo!! Let’s just say … we were both a tinnie einnie bit excited!

It was a little bit of an overcast day, but when we were signing in (you have to sign in at the start, each night at the huts and sign-out at the end as a safety measure – very important J ) the lady who was serving us, said that there had been showers all morning but they continued to pass.  Ok – good last minute helpful tip – right?

So finally, we were down at the start of the track, signed in, wet weather gear on and bag on our backs!! (Damn …what did I pack that made this bag weigh so much????)  Too late to re-think this?? Ah well …  woohoooo …. we are ready to go!! Let’s just have another WOOHOOO!!!

Overland 1

So we had been warned that Day 01 of the hike is the hardest … a lot of ‘up’ …. so it was nice to start the track on a timber board walk to warm up the body! With a little spring in our step … we head off on our adventure!  We had being going for about an hour, past some beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, a little bit of “up”, past a lake, a little bit more “up” till we got to a viewing platform of Dove Lake – which we were lucky to see!! As we were standing there enjoying the view and having a little snack…. the rain started to come down, so the only thing to do was to keep going and yup the next bit was … amazingly… heading on up!!

So this next bit was the big incline up the mountain edge … it is mostly natural steps and yup it is that steep that they have a chain to assist! So if that doesn’t sound challenging enough…. you know that rain that I was telling you about … well it was now really coming down and the wind had started to blow. So we are now scaling the side of the mountain, there is water cascading (I kid you not) down the rocks we are climbing and the wind is howling around us. Oh yeah…. did you remember we have 20+ kg on our back … don’t worry I was not forgetting!!! J  It made the mountain feel endless!! Dam how high is this mountain and when is the rain going to stop!!! It was somewhere around this point that I started to have a little battle in my head…. it went a little like this … WHAT THE &^$* have I done!!! This was punishing … if the vertical climb of the mountain wasn’t bad enough and the body starting to feeling  fatigued with all the leg muscles working overtime … I was really questioning what I had got myself into – I didn’t sign up for this… right? Then the old “what if” jumped in to that crazy head of mine…. what if there is another mountain (really soon), what if this weather sets in for the next 5 days, what if I don’t make it to the end …. so – if I am going to turn around – now is definitely the time to do it, when I get home I’m going to become a couch potato and live through the adventures shown on TV!! Then it did a flip…. OK…. “suck it up cupcake”…. it’s a bit tough right now but  you can totally do this, this is what you live for, this is an amazing adventure and you are on it, you love to achieve things big and small AND  you have Ange right there next to you and together we can survive ABSOLUTELY anything!!

So what did we do…. we got to the top of that damn mountain and just kept walking!  Yep so things are sounding better but let’s get back to this rain … yup it is still pouring down and … now…. my dam sock is WET … crap… how do I keep that dry? WTF…. is that going to rub? Am I going to get Blisters? Oh man … Wrinkled feet?

Seriously, my head is my own worst enemy!

Well, that darn wind was still blowing a gale … so much that it actually blew me off the track a couple of times. The strategy was that when the wind blows you lean into it but when it stops suddenly you over balance, and vice versa when you are not ready for it…. bam … see you later. We were engulfed in clouds – they were whizzing past us, up and over the landscape but we couldn’t see more than 10 metres or so in front of us! It was like we kept walking into an endless landscape of cloud! Ange and I could not even talk to each other without stopping as the wind was howling and just took the words away with it.

Finally, we came across the “half way” emergency hut  …  can you believe we are only half way…. on the first day?  Yup … me neither!! We were pretty lucky that a big group had just left the hut when we got there so we had it all to ourselves (we may not have fit otherwise)! It was just so nice to get out of the rain, and the wind, and to drop those packs off our backs!! I knew I needed to have a bite to eat but the hands were so cold that they just did not want to work properly (who knew zippers were going to be so hard) as well as feeling lethargic enough not to want to eat!!  But this body definitely needed an energy boost!!

Both of us were so wet that we got cold really quickly in the hut so we decided that it was best to get back out there in those extreme elements and make it to the Waterfall Valley Hut as soon as possible!!   So off we tramp … the walk goes on for another couple of hours under the same circumstances – rain, wind and a 10m visual in the clouds!  Not being able to see far in front of you also made the trek feel endless, you could not even use a land mark to mark how far you were travelling! So it really just felt like it went on and on and on … We caught a small glimpse of Cradle Mountain in between the clouds but were very unfortunate not to see it in its glory or the supposed spectacular landscape of that first day!!

Finally we came across a sign that said “Waterfall Valley Hut – 30 minutes”!! Yups – we both got pretty excited about that sign!! It was here that my backpacks rain cover came off again and Ange came over to fix it up for me, when she says…. “where is your red bag?”  KT – “what do you mean where is my red bag”, Ange – “it’s not on your bag anymore”, KT – “are you serious … WTF!!!”  And you thought we were going through enough already …  so….  my red bag is my sleeping mat (you know the 1 inch thick one that was my nightly saviour)…. well it is no longer attached to my bag!! I didn’t hear anything drop from my bag because of the rain on my jacket hoodie and the howling wind!  I looked backed along the track … and new that I did not have strength to head back to look for it … it could have been any time in the last 1 and half … so decided to just head on! Oh crap…. here comes my head again … oh  man … I now have 5 nights sleeping on the hard floor/ground, oh man … if I wasn’t going to be tired and grumpy before – I definitely am going to be now!!  Then the little glimmer of hope …  I could see if I can double back in the morning with hopefully better weather and without my big bag.

Ah well … will leave that decision till tomorrow … so what did we do … just kept on walking!! We totally think that they had the timing wrong on that sign as it felt like sooooo much longer than 30 minutes and that last bit was heading down hill … which you would think was a good thing but the body was in hurting mode and nothing was enjoyable at this stage! We both just wanted to get there!!

Waterfall Valley Hut

Finally, finally, finally we arrived at the hut – wet, bedraggled, exhausted, freezing (all our inners were soaked through) but oh so relieved!! We were lucky that there were a couple of spaces available in the hut as we were not in any state to go and put our tent up in that weather!  So after a change of clothes and an attempt to hang our gear up (the hut looked like a laundry) I went to find the hut warden to have a chat about my mat, when I saw another group arriving down the hill!! I waited as they got down the hut and asked the man if he had seen a red bag on the track – expecting to at least get a rough idea of how long it would take me in the morning.  His response was “You mean this bag that I picked up this afternoon!!” We need another WOOOHOOO here … Can you believe it … yup…. he had kindly picked up my mat and tied it onto his bag!! Oh my goodness…. I just wanted to give him the biggest thank-you hug ever!! Oh my … I was just so relieved and happy that I was no longer sleeping on the ground!! So with my matt now back in my possession and a delicious gourmet hiking dinner in our bellies … my adventurous spirit was on the way up again!!  I didn’t have much to compare our first day of our adventure with, but Ange did say that in all the hikes she has ever been on, this was by far the worst weather day she has ever experienced! Thank goodness – we are alive!!

PS – Really didn’t take many photos this today! There was just too much rain to take it out!

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