Beginning The Overland Track in Tasmania

Cradle Mountain didn’t look too bad from where we were standing. It was sunny…the mountain was off in the distance, and the terrain looked flat in front of it. There was a beautiful lodge by the parking lot, and lots of tourists opt to stay there and do some day hikes around the area. It takes about 6-1/2 strenous hours to climb the Mountain from the parking lot and return if you day hike it. Ian took care of all the formalities: getting our National Parks pass, signing us in, and handing the three of us sack lunches for later that day.

Suddenly, the sun disappeared, we put on our rented waterproof jackets (a tasteful red), and the rain came down in sheets with gusts of wind blowing the rain sideways directly into our faces. Slinging on the heavy packs with everything needed for the next six days, we set off across a maintained but extremely muddy track. Then we started “scrambling”, vertically up, hanging on to large boulders for the next two hours (I hate “scrambling”) in this downpour while trying not to get blown off the mountain by the wind. Completely and absolutely miserable…to put it mildly. Later on, I re-read the Cradle Hut brochure and noticed that somehow I neglected to read a key sentence…”The entire climb is exposed to any bad weather which may arrive at any time….” Bad me…

registering at Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

We’ve only just begun... the Overland Track, Tasmania

Finally, the top of the plateau with a little warming hut loaded with Freedom Hikers, day hikers and us…all trying to keep warm and out of the rain. ex-Marine is giving me extremely filthy looks, muttering under his breath, and refuses to talk to me or anyone else. We took out our soggy sandwiches from wet sacks and he instantly dropped his on the floor. Talk about a not-happy camper… But Ian comes to the rescue. He digs into his pack, pulls out some chocolate bars, and there is instant happiness. And, the sun comes back out.

Cradle Mountain in the distance before the rains, Tasmania

It’s sunny, ex-Marine is happy with chocolate bars in his tummy, and the four of us continue on to Barn Bluff Hut operated by Cradle Huts. Out of wet clothes, Ian whips up some SCONES, with clotted cream and preserves, for heaven’s sake, and we are now on a blissful, sugar and carbo high…thinking, that wasn’t so bad…

Ian cooking scones at Barn Bluff Hut, Tasmania

The hut provisions for the entire season are helicoptered in each November and the huts closed (again via helicopte) in May, end of season. There was room for 10 people in each hut and only four of us. Ian was very sparing with the firewood since it had to last for months. My solution, other than piling on the layers was to around strip blankets from all the beds, piling them over my sleeping bag! A good dinner, dry and warm and ready for the next day. Ian promised there were no more “scrambles”… and today’s walk was a “mere” 11km (little over 6 miles) that took five hours…

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