I woke up at 5AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to see how the first light of the day would transform the mountains surrounding us. Like me AN’s Mom, M, was also an early bird so the two of us made some tea and together we watched the warm glow of the sun light up the sky.
As we set off for our next stop, Kia Ora, we were once again a bit concerned about where/how we would sleep that evening. While the New Pelion Hut was modern and spacious, we knew that Kia Ora was small and wouldn’t have enough space for all the hikers. We were going to make a side trip to climb Mt. Pelion East on the way but since M was going directly to the hut she took some of our sleeping bag liners so that she could save some room for us. I really didn’t want to leave this beautiful place and wished that we had a rest day there, but we couldn’t afford to make changes to our plans then so at 8:30AM we said goodbye to the Pelion Plains and started our walk towards Kia Ora.
It was our first sunny day. I could barely make out a wisp of cloud in the sky.
The night before we discussed whether we should climb Mt. Pelion East or Mt. Ossa. It seemed like all the other hikers were choosing Mt. Ossa (the highest mountain in Tassie) but we chose to go up Pelion East instead. I was looking forward to hiking without my pack for a change since we could leave our bags at the junction, but first we had to walk for 2 hours over more hills, valleys, muddy puddles, and a lot of tree roots to get there.
My legs and lungs were burning by the time we reached the junction, but once I took my pack off and started climbing Pelion East my body felt so light that I thought I could run up the mountain.
We had the mountain to ourselves. Up, up, we went.
The views were spectacular and I couldn’t be happier or more at peace.
As we got closer to the summit the terrain became rockier, the incline steeper, and the air colder and harsher. My old self would have wanted to climb up to the very very top of the mountain to say I did it, that I conquered this peak, but somewhere near the top my heart told me stop pushing myself. So I let the others go ahead and I sat, closed my eyes, and just listened to the wind.
After lunch S and I decided to continue the walk to Kia Ora, but AN, AC, JN, and JC wanted to hike up to the saddle on the other side. Those strong four women ended up doing what no other hikers did while we did the Overland Track, and hiked both Mt. Pelion East and Mt. Ossa that day. Kudos!
I have to say, the walk to Kia Ora from the junction was tough. My left foot was throbbing (finally developed a blister), I was running low on water, it became extremely hot and sunny, and most of the trail was exposed to the elements. We figured it was going to be about an hour to the hut but when we got to the 1.5 hour mark and we didn’t see any signs of the hut (or any trail signage whatsoever) I didn’t know how much longer I could walk. I was grateful for S’ company; talking to him really helped me keep going. When we finally reached Kia Ora at 2:45, I ran over to the water tank and stuck my head under the tap. It was the best non-shower shower I’d ever had.
We learned from the ranger that the temperature in Tasmania was getting dangerously high and Hobart was experiencing a heat wave. After walking 17km the previous day we covered 14km on our day 4, and we were looking at an equally long day and even hotter conditions the next day. No matter. I was having a great time walking and being with my friends.
Almost everyone camped out that evening because of the heat and the small size of the hut. I opted to sleep indoors at Kia Ora but my chance to sleep in a tent was still coming…
On to Windy Ridge!