Day 1: where we take the path less travelled and still see the same view
It was about 1pm when we finally set foot on the Overland Track at Ronny Creek, after what seemed like an endless series of flights, long distance buses, shopping trips, and pit stops. The easy wooden walkways that I had seen in all the photos soon gave way to more typical bushland, followed by the steep ascent to Marion's look-out, where we were rewarded with beautiful views, the first of many picnic lunches of hummus and crackers, and of course - scroggin!
|Setting off from Ronny Creek|
|Marion's Lookout with Dove Lake behind|
|View from Cradle Mountain|
|Waterfall Valley Hut|
It was as we were settling in that I overheard somebody mention that he hadn't realised you had to bring your own toilet paper. Oops. I did spare the odd thought for that guy over the next 5 days. Apparently he was a little anxious about his situation. But to be fair, everyone has a packing fail (or quirk) of some kind. We encountered a guy with solar panels covering his entire backpack, which he used to charge a radio, another man carried 27kg just so he could have all the comforts of home, and there was a group who were rumoured to have not brought any tents, thus forcing them to rise at 4am each day to ensure they arrived first and secured enough spaces in the huts each night.
Day 2: where I "hit the wall" and made some new friends
With a fairly relaxed air, we boiled the billy for breakfast tea and porridge, what was to become our morning routine for the week. After the others packed away the tent and I packed away the stove, we were ready to depart for Day 2 - a half marathon with 15kg packs on our backs! We covered the first section to Windermere Hut fairly easily and enjoyed a relaxed lunchtime swim at Lake Windermere before turning our attention to the 6hrs of walking still to go.
|Lake Windermere from a distance|
|Mt Pelion Hut, at long last|
|The infamous fuel stove in all its glory|
Day 3: where we deal with blisters and my shirt gets a new lease on life
I received lots of advice about walking the Overland Track. Some was unsolicited, and some contradictory. For me, shoes were the biggest worry. Some people said you definitely need ankle support and the best brand of hiking shoes, others said that you can walk the track in dunlop volleys and it will be fine. After many hours agonising in the company of patient and not so patient outdoor store staff, I bought a pair of Salomon boots and a pair of Vasque boots, proceeded to wear them both around the office for two days to get a feel for which one I preferred, repeatedly asking the advice of long-suffering colleagues, and eventually decided upon the Vasques. Yet, having worn them on a few practice bushwalks, I decided they were giving me too many blisters, and finally opted to take my no-name hiking shoes (so no ankle support, and apparently not even gortex) which at least I knew did not give me blisters. And guess what? They were absolutely fine. I didn't get any blisters at all, didn't twist my ankle, and was not clomping around in heavy boots for five days.
|One solution to the blister problem|
The other great thing about having a short, fairly easy day, was that there was time to take a dip in the icy cold river, and wash and dry my ONE hiking shirt. Yes, that's right. If you notice that I seem to be wearing the same clothes in every photo, well I am! Another flatmate, whose advice I valued immensely since he hikes regularly in New Zealand, culled me down to one shirt for the whole week, reasoning that it didn't matter if I smelt bad, and that since the shirt was "quick dry" it would dry quickly if wet. A good idea in theory, but all the same, it was great to put on a relatively clean and dry shirt the following day.
Day 4: where we see waterfalls and encounter wildlife of the slithery kind
Day 4 took us through more foresty areas, with charming moss-covered tree stumps and butterflies and birds. It was quite magical and I almost expected to see a faun appear at a fork in the road and lead us to Aslan. But with no mythical friends to be met, we settled for three optional side trips to waterfalls. I ended up visiting two of them, and relaxed in a clearing while others visited the third one.
|D'alton Falls in the sunlight|
|Sign cautioning not to tread on snakes!|
It's hard to get much sleep in the huts, by the time you deal with muscular aches and pains, snorers, and early risers. But on the last morning, a group departed before dawn to try to catch the early ferry and were particularly loud as they packed up all their gear. (Later accounts suggest they missed the boat and had to catch the midday ferry anyway). Anyhow, we arose, packed everything up for the last time, served up our last breakfast, and departed for the easiest walk of all - a gentle downward slope towards Narcissus Hut, where our walking ended. It was another glorious day, with hardly a cloud in the sky.
|The final hours|
|Crossing the finishing line, with Narcissus Hut behind|
|Lake St Clare, waiting for the ferry|