Along the Overland Track we saw signage that showed how long it would take to go from one place to another. For example, on our second day when we left Waterfall Valley the marker at the hut said it would take 3 hours to reach Windermere. We understood that it was given as a general guideline, probably for a moderately fit person to walk the trail under reasonable conditions but every time we saw a marker like that we looked at each other and shook our heads in disbelief. We really had no idea how long it would take us to walk these trails because on our first day what was supposed to take 2 hours took us 4 because of all the gusty winds and rain. Everyone I spoke to told me how the first day would be the toughest and the rest of the hike was going to be relatively easy. Well, I guess you can say everything is relative… When you mix unpredictable weather with Tasmanian wilderness, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Looking back at our 7 days on the Overland Track, I can’t say that there were any “easy” days.
On the morning of our third day my body felt tight and I was fatigued from the previous two days of hiking. I still didn’t feel quite comfortable with my pack but I continued to make adjustments to make things more manageable. But knowing we had 17km to walk I had little time to dwell on it. I wanted to go, move, walk as quickly as I could that day. The whole group was ready and walking by 8:30AM. And about 10 minutes later I had my very first kangaroo sighting (my Aussie friends were kind enough to point him out to this clueless American). It looked as though it wasn’t going to rain anymore, the temperature was just cool enough, there were no blisters to drag me down, and I was smiling at a kangaroo… all signs pointed to my having a good day.
About an hour into our walk we came to a beautiful lookout point where we could rest for a few minutes, and take in the valleys and mountains all around us.
I don’t know how it happened but after this lookout point I ended up walking the rest of the way by myself. JN and S practically ran past me to finish the day quickly so that they could double back and help M, and I tried my best to not be too far behind the two guys. My pack was digging into my shoulders and I thought the faster I got to Pelion the better. I had nothing but endless skies and changing scenery to keep me company for the next few hours. I went from slippery downhill rocks through narrow paths to wide open fields to an incline surrounded by wildflowers to an unexpected waterfall. It was absolutely fantastic.
I walked through forests covered in carpet of green moss, saw flowers the color of yellow raincoats, and jumped over puddles of mud and tree roots to reach Frogs Flats.
Rather than taking a lunch break at Frog Flats I kept walking. I thought I might be an hour or so away from Pelion and that thought motivated me. I was moving at a good pace until I noticed the earth beneath me getting softer and not long after that I came to this giant muddy patch. I stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out how in the world I was going to cross it. It wasn’t just the trail that was soaked through but everything around it was wet and soggy. Eventually I “ninja’d” my way around it, hanging on branches, balancing on tree roots, and tiptoeing over low-lying bushes.
I thanked my gaiters at least a dozen times this day. I was dripping with sweat but let out a sigh when I reached the other side. I could hear my heart beating loudly. I was quite proud of myself for making it across without sinking too deep into the muddy waters but just then I saw this ahead of me.
Of course I made it across and reached the Pelion Plains.
I was exhausted, but beyond thrilled and exhilarated to see where I was going to spend the afternoon and evening. It was breathtakingly gorgeous but I think the fact that it took three days to get there made it even more beautiful. Could there be a hut better situated anywhere?
We ate our dinner (even had some hot chocolate) on the helipad and watched the sun set. I stretched my toes out (still no blisters!) and smiled up at the clouds overhead.
Oh, I almost forgot… It took me exactly 5 hours to reach Pelion from Windermere, arriving about 15 minutes after the boys. Next stop, Kia Ora!