Reflections on walking from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, Tasmania
The photo above was taken on day 1 of our Overland Track adventure. We were only a few hundred metres from the starting point of the 6-day hike and we were so excited, with no clue of what to expect. Without hesitation, I can now say that it was an amazing experience. At times we felt like we were all alone, two tiny specks in the gorgeous and vast Tasmanian wilderness. It was awe-inspiring and grounding. We loved the experience and want to do it all over again!
New Pelion Hut (pictured above) is about 35km into the Overland Track, and we arrived at the end of (a very long, 16.8km) day 3. The huts that you stop at each night are fantastic, with basic bunk beds, areas to prepare food and (somewhat temperamental) gas heaters on a timer. And we needed those gas heaters! We were usually cold and wet when we arrived each evening.
There were challenges on the hike… carrying an 18kg pack with all your supplies. Falling over with said pack pining you down and not being able being able to get back up again. Trying to save your camera from getting smashed during said fall and smashing your face on a rock instead. My gore-tex boots did not keep my feet dry. My old rain jacket totally failed. Snow, sleet and gale force winds on the first day. Getting up to turn on the heater every 45mins to try and stay a little warm. Leeches (eeew). But those challenges made getting to the end (without needing a medivac) feel like a huge achievement. I felt like I was stronger and more resilient by the end… however, I am also perfectly happy to grow and learn through joyful experiences instead. Just putting that out there to the Universe…
I flew along on the last day of our OT walk... I'm convinced that my cracking pace was due to the lighter pack. I was carrying the food supplies, so my pack got progressively lighter each day of the hike. Daniel, on the other hand, is convinced that I had my eyes on the prize, our accommodation that night at Pumphouse Point... that converted historic beauty, a glorious hot shower and a soft, soft bed.... ok, yes, I’ll admit that was very motivating too!
In all the excitement of finishing the walk, we completely forgot to return the emergency locator beacon that we had hired. So, after walking for 6 days, we went for a change of pace and borrowed the Pumphouse Point bikes to ride the 5km back to the Lake St Clair Visitors Centre to return the beacon. And it started snowing as we rode along... a magical way to end our Tasmanian adventure!
I'll put together a future post about the lessons we learnt on this trip, and things we will take or ditch for next time. But in the interim, here are a few notes about the gear that we took with us...
Pack: I bought a Black Wolf rucksack for the trip, specifically the 65L McKinley pack. I was familiar with Black Wolf backpacks, as I used one many years ago on a trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. As expected, there was a small period of adjustment, but I found it comfortable and practical overall. I'll be using it again for our next big hike.
Boots: I splurged on a pair of Mammut gore-tex boots. They were easy to break in, very comfortable to wear. But they didn't keep out the water on days when we had a lot of rain, or had to walk through water laying on the ground. In comparison, my husband had a pair of leather boots, and his feet stayed dry. I'll still use them for shorter hikes, and in suitable conditions. But I will be looking for a pair of quality leather hiking boots before our next multi-day hike.
Meal Kit: After much consideration, we decided to take along two Light My Fire meal kits. It was handy to pre-pack our lunch in these kits each morning, and to store it on the top of our packs for quick and easy access. They still regularly come in handy as work lunchboxes!
Sleeping mat: We took along Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated sleeping mats. They look a little unusual, and like most air mattresses, they are noisy when you move around. But they were compact and lightweight, and for a multi-day hike when every gram counts, that was greatly appreciated.
Tent: As we were booked in to hike the Overland Track at the end of the regular season (ie. just before winter), we were concerned about the weather conditions. We had a 3-season tent, but decided to upgrade to a 4-season Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 person tent. Again, it was compact and lightweight, which made it ideal. In the end, we only used it once, as there was plenty of room in the huts along the way. But the night that we used it turned out to be very stormy, and we were secure and snug in the tent. Our experience with it is limited, but it served us well that night. We have used it numerous times since during our summer camping trips and it has been great. And we will take it with us on our next multi-day adventure.
Hope this helps you with your planning for your own hiking adventure!