The Overland…Again

So this October (2019) Kane and I went back for another Overland Track adventure. We initially went in January 2019 when our friends Brad and Claudy Glover talk us into it but they had to pull out just weeks beforehand when poor Brad developed a serious infection around his heart. So this time it was all four of us and nothing, not even my dodgy knee, which I injured hiking on the 6 Foot Track and had religiously done 5 months of physio in preparation for this trip, was going to hold us down.

Just a reminder that I travelled with three other people. This is my personal account of my experience.

This time the track was a different experience. Kane and I were both 10kg lighter in body weight. I was inspired by a book called the Fast 800 that I picked up at Hobart airport when we left in January. My knees killed me last time and I knew my bodyweight was a big reason for that. We had lessened our pack weights too. January vs October? Well January was so hot and dry. October was cold, icy and much more tolerable to hike in. Brad and I analysed the long term weather forecasts for months and as it got closer we were expecting snow which was both scary and exciting. Less people started the track in October but it seemed more crowded this time because everyone wanted to stay in the huts due to the cold, making it cramped and noisy. This took it’s toll at times, as different personalities sharing small confined spaces created some challenges, especially when you are looking for a wilderness adventure away from people!

Water was easier to access along the track keeping our pack weights down. One of my favourite aspects was sighting more animals this time too. Each day seemed longer and arduous in January but much easier this time as we knew what to expect – we knew what was coming. That said, knowing took some of the mystery out of it. It was a bit of a double edged sword. I also found this October trip far more challenging emotionally for me. I ended up on a rollercoaster ride of mood swings which, by the end, I guess allowed me time for introspection and analysis of why I was experiencing this inner turmoil, especially since I was in my happy place (in the bush). Each day was a struggle with anger, frustration, self-berration, panic, nervousness and there were even secret tears as I walked the track. I rarely cry. Even Kane says I have a heart of ice (in loving jest of course). But I think since I have become a nurse, I’ve really hardened up. I was easily annoyed by some fellow travellers who had little respect or consideration for others. Then an hour later I’m estatic and filled with gratefulness, joy, happiness, love and wisdom. I wonder now if it was primarily around my concerns with the dicky knee. I worked really bloody hard to get that knee ready for this trip and I knew it was unlikely to hold up given all the set backs I had during my rehab. I was pretty scared and apprehensive about making it though the trip. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? After a few days on the track it also came to me that perhaps I mask all those feelings with alcohol at home so I don’t get to encounter them often and being on the track I didn’t have any booze handy to numb those feelings – I just bury them in wine and food. I’m still trying to analyse it. Just when you think you know yourself and you are comfortable in your skin……. bam. Out of control again! And I am a control freak.

After kissing our sleeping children goodbye, we left early on the Saturday morning to catch a flight to Hobart. The plan was to drive from Hobart to Launceston in a hire care. However like all good plans, it went awry. Just as we were boarding the plane, Brad gets a call stating one of our bags had a gas canister in it. Nah, couldn’t be one of us. We know not to travel with a gas canister, so he asked which bag. “The green bag”. He replied they were all green bags (which they were as Brad, Claudy and I had the exact same travel protector bags). “The greenest bag,” was the deadpan reply from a very unimpressed Jetstar staff member. We all thought the same thing – Kane’s bag. Somehow, someway, poor Kane had left one in the cooking bag and he was not permitted to board. It was a super quick kiss goodbye as he ran toward some special desk where you get into trouble. They had removed his bag from the plane. Kane insisted we still get on our flight. There were lots of texts back and forth to see if Kane could get a flight straight to Launceston but he had to wait 6 hours for the next flight to Hobart. He then had to hire a car and drive himself that night to Launceston. What a bloody fiasco. He was very calm about it all and I was very happy when he arrived at our hotel over 10 hours later.

Arriving at Hobart “Kane”less 😩

Ironically, our biggest concern as we got into Hobart on a Saturday afternoon was finding somewhere to buy gas canisters before the shops closed. Luckily we did. After a 2.5hr drive we arrived into Launceston around 5pm and were hell bent on finding the best place to have “our last supper”. A great little pub called the Star Hotel provided us with a delicious carb and wine filled meal and walking back to our hotel, Claudy and I heard Kasey Chambers blasting out of a side alley theatre doorway. Turns out she was touring. So despite needing an early night, we stayed by the door listening to another “Cenny” Coast girl on a Tassy adventure.

Free Kasey Chambers concert in the alleyway

Kane was still with us in spirit

Day 1

We woke early, our gear already sorted and headed out to reception for 6.45 pick up and transfer to Cradle Mountain. It was an interesting bus ride which gave us an insight into some of the people we would be sharing the track with. Two lovely young guys from Sydney – the lawyer and the tech company owner (whom our two boys made a great connection with). Two sisters from country Queensland who were quiet and polite and kept to themselves. And an adult family of three with friendly chatty dad and two daughters, who were late for the bus, and then one talked the entire bus trip. I swear a breath was not taken. We stopped half way for coffee and a bite to eat, where we had to wait again for the sisters who didn’t seem to understand the concept of time before travelling another hour or so and arriving at our destination – Ronny Creek, the start of the Overland Track. We signed in and got our packs on and took the obligatory photo. Full of excitement we were rewarded immediately with a few big wombats by the track, not at all bothered by us. Kane and I discussed the difference already with abundant streams and a lack of March flies.

Welcoming wombat

As we made a steady ascent we passed the lovely picture postcard Cradle Lake and continued up to the base of Marion’s Lookout. Now this was potentially the climb that was going to make or break me with my knee. Kane and I had already discussed that he would take some weight from my pack. But it turns out I managed it really well. The climb seemed much shorter and less arduous this time and as we reached the top, I realised I could have taken the weight after all.

Cradle Lake

Climbing up to Marion’s. Kane in the middle with some of my gear

Marion’s Lookout. I made it!

As we carried on toward Cradle Mountain we were of course at higher altitude now and patches of ice and snow were scattered along the track which made for a bit of fun. Hiking through snow like that is actually pretty difficult. It was slippery and unstable underfoot. As we arrived at Kitchen Hut at the base of Cradle Mountain, we put our bags in the hut and I farewelled Kane, Claudy and Brad as they went to climb to the summit. Last time I attempted this but only made it about half way I guess. So I was really happy that Kane was actually able to make it to the top this time. They were about 1.5hrs and although it was lovely and clear it was bloody freezing as I sat out with the naughty currawongs who love to get into peoples packs while on their side trips. It was at this point when the tips of my fingers, despite thick gortex and fleece gloves, went numb so I decided to make myself a cuppa in the hut to try to warm up. With my hot drink I headed back out into the cold, cold sunshine trying to spot them. As I sipped away a tall solid man was coming back along the track toward the hut looking somewhat agitated and red faced. I asked if he was Ok but I really only got some words (in English mind you) that I had trouble interpreting. He was unfriendly and quite odd. Anyway, I translated from the disjointed babble that his two sons were up the mountain and gathered maybe he was worried or distressed. People came and went as I waited which was a good distraction from the cold I must say and eventually I spotted my three returning. This meant we were setting off again and I was glad to warm up.

Snow on the track

More snow

Cradle Mountain

Filling up on pristine drinking water

Kitchen hut

They were up there somewhere

I was feeling pretty confident about my knee after a great morning and having had no issues but there was this one step down, just one, when my knee bent backward (I have hyperflexing knees), and pop! The pain was pretty bad and in that moment I stood on one leg and a thousand fucks went through my head. That’s it. It’s over. I’m done. But I stayed in that position for a minute and the pain eventually subsided. I continued the step down and it wasn’t too bad. So I took some pain killers and just kept moving. It was at this point that I got out my hiking poles and they rarely left my hands after that.

As we moved through the part of the walk that near killed me last time because of the heat and exposure, I found myself pre-occupied with the knee and each step was carefully considered. Each and every one. That in itself is very mind consuming. That said it was nice and cool and much easier than I remembered of the first time. I guess it’s like that with most things. The first time is always the longest and hardest. With the boys ahead of us, Claudy and I eventually walked into Waterfall Valley hut happy we had made it through the first day. The afternoon sunshine was a welcome source of heat through the hut windows and we spent the afternoon chatting with Ranger Mitch about all sorts of hiking and wilderness topics. I tried very hard not to be distracted by the horrific stench of the strange man from Kitchen Hut and his two lovely but smelly sons who wore cotton t-shirts (a big no no on multiday hikes), tracksuit pants, work boots and socks holier than the ozone layer. I may have mentioned that they should put their fetid boots outside. I found a sneaky spot to have a wash and get into my camp clothes and was very happy with my decision to take warm fleecy camp slippers. On these multi day hikes, weight is a major factor so you wear the same clothes every day and have one set of camp clothes. I took two pairs of undies and one change of socks which you essentially exchange every second day. I wash my undies when I have my wash and dry them out overnight. Some might balk at the thought but with the right fabrics (like merino) you don’t really smell. It’s great.

We slept in the hut, along with a stack of other people. It was a terrible sleep the first night with some very noisy sleeping mats (mine included) and the different sounds people make during the night. Thank goodness for ear plugs!

A casual stroll through a little boulder field

View at Waterfall Hut

Day 2

I was first up in the hut and could barely wait to get moving. After a quick breakky we were off. It was a bright blue morning with the stunning Barn Bluff escorting us. I was grateful for the majority of boardwalk this morning. I took the lead and it was nice to take our time, allowing Brad and Claudy space to explore and take photos. They both have eyes like hawk’s and find lots of things I completely miss. We soon arrived at a track junction and dropped our packs taking a short side trip down to Lake Will. Last time Kane and I took our shoes off to wade in this lake but not a chance today. Brad however, a water lover at heart, could not resist the child like temptation despite the freezing conditions and Claudy and I laughed as we watched him go in and out trying to dunk himself in the glacial temperature lake. His body went bright red and he found it quite painful. Still didn’t stop him though. As we arrived back at our packs, currawongs were trying their luck at some unfortunate hikers pack – not ours luckily.

Dropping out bags at the junction

Signs the weather might change

The track then turned to rock and gravel for the rest of the day. We were told by Ranger Mitch that at a certain noll overlooking the valley we would get phone coverage if we had Telstra. After I did the Larapinta with my girl friends in April, the one thing I was envious of was Lily and Sue’s ability to get phone coverage. They were with Telstra. So I cancelled my phone contract with another carrier to get a Telstra phone for this very reason. Boy was I glad for this now as I rang Hamish and Aiden at home to check in. I was a nice relief being able to hear their voices.

From here was another long and fairly unnerving decent with a lot of loose gravel. Not great for the knee (maybe I should call this blog, “Diary of a dodgy knee”). And to make matters worse, the beautiful weather started to change. The clouds became heavy with rain and the chase started. Our pace quickened in a race with mother nature and we won, making it to Windemere hut just before the rain hit. It pretty much didn’t stop all afternoon either. We were some of the last in because we took the side trip so we battled for sleeping spots.

There’s rain in them there clouds

The pace quickened

But time to stop and snap this bright fungi

I was pretty shaky after todays hike. I felt quite depleted physically and emotionally. I needed a feed but as we set up for some lunch, my mate the strange bloke, decided to get some string out and start hanging it around the hut right near the eating tables where we were seated. I asked what it was for and when he said to hang their clothes (these are the stinky people) I nearly lost my shit. Actually, I did lose my shit I guess. I was suddenly overwhelmed with trembling and shaking I couldn’t control and I became quite short of breath. I became teary and then it dawned on me that I was having a bit of panic attack. I haven’t had one for many, many years. I used to have them in my mid 20’s after my cancer treatment. It was embarrassing and overwhelming but it eventually passed and I think some food also helped. I think it was the culmination of a lot of things not the least my anxiety around my ability to even do the track with my knee and the concentration and effort required for every step.

Claudy was a great distraction and she decided she wasn’t going to fall victim to cabin fever, so we rugged up went out onto the cold balcony listening for birds. We consulted the OLT book and were able to see and hear some featured birds. Claudy has introduced me to a lot of things now. I would never be hiking were it not for her. She also introduced me to salami some time back on a get together. And since this trip, I’ve developed a love of bird watching! Thanks Claudy xxx

We were pretty chilly today and hungry too. We were concerned we wouldn’t have enough fuel in our canisters and started to worry that we didn’t factor in the cold in our food rations.

Fellow camper

Nurses hack – Protecting my fleece boots from the rain

Day 3

After a great sleep despite the symphony of snoring, zippers and sleeping mats, we set off on what would be our longest day (around 17kms). It was a little foggy and wet as we hit the track this morning. We spotted some Tassy Devil poo which was exciting believe it or not. We actually became experts on animal scat. There was certainly some challenging terrain today too with deep puddles and muddy bogs to navigate. We hopped from rocks to tree roots, slipping every now and then. It was such a different walk compared to the dry track we experienced in January. Parts of the track looked the same but the forest was showing the scars of a tough winter with many trees down. We criss-crossed paths with other walkers a lot of the day which to be honest was a little annoying. There just didn’t seem to be as many people last time.

Tassy Devil poo. You’re welcome.

Love the varied track surfaces

Vibrant feather

Chunks of ancient quartz

I found this day physically challenging in January. It was long and the protracted decent made for hell on my knees. This time, it was much easier although I absolutely felt it the next day. We had lunch at the Forth River (the lowest point on the track) under a drizzly sky but sheltered from the rain drops by the trees lining the river. It was my first time having 2 minute noodles hiking. Not a massive fan of them but Kane had some yesterday and I had a mouthful. Yummo. My Hot and Spicy 2MN were glorious and will now become part of my hiking future. The trek up to Pelion was lovely with enormous ferns lining the track. After listening to the birds yesterday afternoon, Claudy and I were able to identify some by their sounds alone, especially the wattle bird which sounds like someone vomiting.

Lunch time

Pelion is a great hut. Much bigger than the others so far and it was nice to have some space at last. We were literally at the other end of the hut from the stinky boys and I have no doubt they were just as relieved to be away from the cranky old bag (me) who whined about their smell and other annoying behaviours. The hut was cold though so when the sun came out that afternoon we sat out on the balcony and chatted to each other and some other hikers. It was really nice. I used my Garmin InReach satellite phone to message the kids and watched some pademelons (like wallabies) chewing on the grass around the hut. Claudy went for a little wander and found one with a joey. Kane was kind enough to give me a foot massage as we sat at the table and continued our theme of not having enough food. We talked about what we would bring next time. Chocolate was high on all our lists.

I became the self-annointed master of the gas heater in the huts. No one seemed to be able to get them started. But somehow I could. They turn off every 40 minutes and there is a different technique to light each one. I kind of liked the power it gave me – like being the provider of fire on Survivor. I wasn’t going to be voted off and maybe when my food ran out, people would feed me so I would keep them warm.

During the night I got up to go to the toilet (drop toilet a little walk away from each hut) and it was so beautiful and still. There was mist through the sky creating a halo around a near full moon. It was cold and crisp and special.

Large section of landslide

Walking into Pelion

Soaking up the sun

Night time in the hut

Day 4

I was up early woken by the noise of people trying unsuccessfully to start the fire. My fire-starting superpowers were needed so I got out of bed and once I got the heater going, I paused to look through the foggy glass window and it was utterly beautiful outside. A pink sky with a line of fog sitting between the grassy plain and the peak of Mt Oakleigh making for some stunning photos. However, this did little to kerb my crankiness and irritability. My knee was throbbing and I was not happy. I tried to reign it in but I could barely speak just trying to keep it together. Like the brass taps on the rainwater tanks that morning, my knee was completely frozen up. And it just got worse when I put my boots on and they were frozen too making my toes completely numb. Putting my pack on was like torture and as we started off the boards were slippery making me even more nervous. I knew I just had to wait for my pain killers to kick in but seriously, I could have punched a kangaroo in the face I was so angry. Lucky there aren’t any kangaroos in Tassy.

Sunrise at frozen Pelion

Icy

The boys were excited as they had planned to climb Mt Ossa today and the conditions were perfect. I knew I was going to be slow this morning and I didn’t want to hold them up. So, off they went with the lawyer and tech magnate with whom there had been lengthy discussions the previous afternoon about all four of them doing it together. Claudy and I were never going to do it. Claudy kindly stayed with me and we took our time, exploring the icy sunlit foliage. Ice coated the track and the sections of boardwalk and at some stages the mud was even frozen. It was a winter wonderland. The birds were out and Claudy spotted an elusive Pink Robin. We quietly watched it flitter from the branches and trees as it chirped and chattered. It was such a gift – our reward for going slow. This lifted my spirits significantly making the pain of each step more tolerable.

Pink robbin

Claudy

We passed the “tour group” a number of times. There are three types of hikers – independent (us), the camping tour group (them) and the luxury hut group (of which there was not one this time). The independents can use huts and camping grounds at a cost of $200 for the 6 days. The camping tourers can only use tents in a separate camping area – no huts for them but they do have a lighter pack as fresh food is cooked and provided for them by guides (approx $2500 for the 6 days). The luxury group gets a fancy separate hut with mattresses, hot showers and wine. They have super light packs but pay a premium (around $4000). We felt for the tour group as it was cold in the evenings and they were out in the elements rather than the huts.

The terrain was stunning and the plant life exotic, almost prehistoric looking at times, like we were might stumble across some dinosaurs grazing on the plants or a pterodactyl might pass us overhead. It was a steep ascent to the saddle where you could go off to do Mt Ossa to the right or Mt Pelion East to the left. We didn’t know how long the boys would be and it was a pretty morning so we decided to head up toward Mt Pelion East to do some bird watching. We stumbled across a wallaby and it was lovely to just be still and watch the birds coming and going. Bird watching is actually pretty entertaining. There were lots of honeyeaters and some birds known for stripping bark from the trees.

Icy mud

Waiting for dinosaurs

Bird watching Mt Pelion East

The saddle junction with Mt Ossa behind

As we began our decent to Kia Ora, buoyed by the calm and lovely morning, we discussed putting up the tents at camp to surprise the boys. But as time ticked away and we kept looking back toward Mt Ossa, the beautiful clear sky was fast being obscured by clouds. When they say the weather changes quick on the OLT they mean it. It wasn’t long until those clouds were thick with water and all we could hope was that the boys had summited and were on their way down (which thankfully was the case). We continued on, walking down a natural sandstone path scattered with deep step downs. It was wet but not boggy – nice for a change. Had it been raining the track would have turned to creek.

Clouds gathering over Mt Ossa

Creek or track?

The weather was becoming more concerning and although Claudy and I had talked about setting up the tents tonight, we hoped that the very small Kia Ora hut might have just enough beds for us. And as we discovered, Claudy only had the poles for her tent not the actual tent itself so there went that idea. When we arrived there were only two people in the hut so we very quickly set up some bed spaces. It began to rain and hikers started pouring in looking for somewhere to sleep.

The hut soon became alive with the voices of today’s discoveries and adventures. People chatted around the tables as they ate their lunch. We were starving and kept looking at our food bag hoping something would miraculously manifest in there. Some new and wonderful people shared their cooked salami and butter (OMG butter!!) with us and we vowed never to hike again without a pan, salami and butter. The lawyer and tech guys were sharing some chocolate and lollies and seriously life just couldn’t get better in that moment. But the talking continued and some of the more annoying personalities began to amp up, talking shit or spilling ignited liquid fuel. Some, like Claudy, sought reprieve from the noise by getting into their sleeping bags. I decided to stay but ended up being ear bashed by the sister from the bus who had a speaking compulsion. You know those people, perfectly nice but have never mastered the basics of conversation, rarely stopping to pause or ask you a question – this was next level altogether. I tried my best to be patient but I quicky realised she didn’t care to learn about me at all. I even decided to make a bit of a game of it and keep listening to see how long it would take for her to finish and ask me a question. After a good 30-45 minutes I gave up, both impressed and irritated by her ability to talk about how wonderful she was for so long without at least a breath or a sip of water. I headed into the sleeping area where our little group of four ended up playing a better game where you had to name a place starting with a letter. Hours of fun I tell you! Kane and Brad spent much of the afternoon outside chatting with some other men (including two lovely young guys from Chile) talking about how the toilet waste was managed. You see when there is no technology to distract you, minds become inquisitive and people come together and share their thoughts. It really is pretty cool.

Dinner time came around and my old stinky mates were at it again, taking up all the table with their grottiness and then, they started drinking scotch. They’d had their dinner but do you thinking they had the social awareness to notice people had started cooking and were eating standing up? No. And of course, big old loud mouth me had to say something. They really had no idea and were quite offended by my bringing it to their attention. It was at that point I’m pretty sure they went up to their bunks and started fashioning a voodoo doll of me from bits of old smelly socks. I just don’t understand some people – no consideration for others at all. Most people are just too polite to say anything and these people continue to get away with their poor behaviour, annoying everyone without consequence. See what I mean by how easily irritated I was? Then, as my further punishment, they were above us and all night long, one of them knocked over his metal drink bottle repeatedly on the hard timber platform all night. It was like being with toddlers. I just wanted to take the bottle and say in my best annoyed mother voice, “Give that to me. You can’t have that anymore.”

Kia Ora Hut

Bed for the night

Day 5

Waterfall day and we left Kia Ora after a night of rain to be welcomed by a “Tough Mudder” level muddy track. It was like an obstacle course at times and to be honest by the end of this day I felt I had almost become an expert in negotiating a mud free boot passage. It became fun actually. Of course every now and then there’d be a calf or knee deep submersion but that’s what the waterproof boots and gaitors were for. We saw quite a few Pink Robbins today and lots of wet yellow gums – yellow trunked trees are quite the sight. Last time we were on the track this was also fungi day so it became a competition to find and photograph fungi. Brad was the winner and he even found a blue one which turned out to be an M&M planted by a cheeky Kane. Brad’s most impressive find that day though was a crayfish on the track. I kid you not!!

Yellow gums

Ducane hut

Stunning forest

The “blue” fungi

A crayfish on the track!!

The waterfall side trips were nice. We first went to D’alton and Ferguson falls. Kane and I did not see them last time. It was such a treat. They were absolutely beautiful. I felt like we were on another continent like say South America. As we reached Hartnett falls Claudy and I were tired. We almost didn’t continue on but we took a little break and were reward by our effort to get down to Hartnett falls when Brad was once again beckoned into the freezing water. It was a precarious scramble though the river and slippery rocks but we found it very entertaining to watch. Claudy even washed her hair in the river.

When we reached the main trail again we had a well deserved lunch and I soon discovered the combination of 2 minute noodles and codeine was absolute gold. I led out from there, ascending like an agile gazelle. Rock hopping the trail with the click clack of my poles. I was on fire. Spritely, nimble and pain free. I felt like a million bucks, my confidence on the track at an all time high. Eventually the vegetation changed and I knew the decent was coming. I waited for the others and admired the jaggered snow smattered dolerite mountains. We then headed down into what can only be described as a divine eucalypt forest with sun beams piercing through trees bigger than I’ve ever seen. There were Celery Top and King Billy pines too – desended from ancient species originating before the continents separated. And I can honestly say they do look primordial and out of place. Giant eucalyptus regnans (some of the tallest growing trees on earth) stood like guardians of the forest and I was so enamoured by their majesty that I asked the others to keep going. I knew we weren’t far from camp and I needed to spend some quality time with these wonders of nature. I stopped and touched them, bewildered by their height, soaking in their enormous girth and analysing how old they might each be. This was my spiritual moment on the track. I felt connect and grateful, I felt small and insignificant and I liked it. I could have laid in that forest all day long. If I go back to the OLT, I will be planning to spend much more time in that transcendental timberland.

Snow on the dolerite mountain

Pretty cool fungi

Guardians of the forest

Heaven on earth

On arriving at Ben Nicols’ Hut I found a private spot to have my post hike wash that afternoon overlooking the Ducane ranges – a “bath” with a view. Last time the ranges were clouded by bushfire smoke. Now they were clear and snow capped. Bert Nicols’ hut is another big hut. Its new and flash with plenty of room. We chatted to the Ranger for sometime about dreams of thru-hikes and expensive hiking gear. But it was too nice to sit inside so we went out to warm ourselves in the last of the late afternoon sun, on a platform up high overlooking the hut and the ranges. Our favourite hiking companions slowly came out to join us, people from all around the world, from all walks of life brought together through hiking. We talked about disconnecting from home life, connecting with nature, and the power of just focusing on one step after another and the meditative effect that can have. It made me reflect on the curative effect nature can have on humans and how disconnected we really are now.

Nature doesn’t judge you, doesn’t expect anything from you. It just is. It’s gentle, calm, and overwhelming beautiful. It is also treacherous, unpredictable and unforgiving. Like us, it has cycles and I was reminded that I would never be cured of the emotional bruises from life’s metaphorical punch-ups, but rather that I needed to be better at accepting that my body and mind was cyclic and when the melancholy or anxiety inevitably revisited, it would crest like a wave and be over again for a while and I’d be back to my fun, happy “shit-together” phase. It was all about continuing to find healthier ways to deal with it. The booze and food have definitely been my crutches – that’s no secret. I’ve worked on control over the food for many years and I’m much better at it but now it was time to address the alcohol – a problem that I am aware of but have been ignoring. I’m happy to say, I have finally begun the process of sorting that out too. As with the food, there will be slip ups but I have developed a mindset over the years of not giving up on giving up. Nature doesn’t provide all the answers, but being in it allows me to connect with myself, be honest with myself, without the distractions and protection of my normal life. But it’s not all about introspection and self-exploration. My absolute favourite thing about being in nature and hiking is to just be in the moment – to zone out and give my brain a break and take time to discover and appreciate all her little gifts like plants, rocks and animals. To laden my body with only the things I need to survive on my back and realise how little I really need and how luck I truly am. In January I felt I had some unfinished business with the track. I don’t feel like that anymore.

After yet another dehydrated dinner, I washed up at the rainwater tank with some help from a not so shy possum and felt disappointed that tomorrow was our last day.

Talking about how hiking is life

Day 6

I was woken this morning by a very excited Claudy, Brad and Kane. I had a headache though so it was cranky bitch again for me until the pain killers did their work. The good news was my knee was bloody great. It drizzled on and off all morning as we walked quietly, with distance between us all. Today’s final stretch was an easy descent into Lake St Clair and I wondered if it was affording us all some time to contemplate the adventure that was about to end. We hopped a few creeks and passed the Angry tree (a Harry Potter like creation so named because we all wanted to take photos of it and Kane snapped at Brad because he just wanted to go for a wee and we were taking too long!)

A drizzly start

The “Angry” tree

Nearing the end

I can’t believe how lucky we were with weather really. Sure it was cold but it barely rained really, and we were expecting wind and snow. As we reached the river and suspension bridge signalling the end of the track, little tiny yellow banksia’s created a farewell tunnel. And I as I finally spotted Narcissus Hut, I looked back at Claudy and she feigned a little cry, sad that this was over. We all hugged and kissed one another in congratulations and thanks. We made a good little hiking team.

Reception kicked in here and everyone had their phones out as we made a quick soup for lunch (the last of our rations down to the minute).

The ferry ride was very bumpy and rainy and when we disembarked from the boat, we ran to get out of the rain, stopping only to take the end of track photos. Now it was time to eat! We head into the Visitors Centre restaurant wet and muddy. It was beers, burgers and chips as we enjoyed the feeling of being warm for the first time in 6 days.

Feast!

It was a long and cramped drive back to Hobart along winding country roads but I slept on and off, head bobbing and all. When we arrived at our hotel, a lift, rather than a craggy step ascent, took us to our rooms. I wash my hair three times in hot water to get the grime and sweat out. It was glorious and it was so nice to sleep on clean, crisp sheets in a warm bed with warm air and a toilet that you didn’t have to get fully dressed and walk outside in the dark to access. But there was no crisp white moon rising behind a mountain, no existential late night questions as I piddled about the presence of life beyond the shimming Milky Way above me, and no chubby furry wallaby chewing away between the button grass next to the toilet either.

One thought on “The Overland…Again

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