This guest post is from Alan, who kindly agreed to post about his experience with planning the Overland Track from the U.S.A and walking the Track with a couple of Aussies.
Alan is a keen hiker around the New Jersey area and he heads out most weekends with a group. The term bushwalking was new to him as multiday hiking in the States is usually referred to as backpacking. Hiking is the U.S. generally refers to day trips.
Here is Alan’s story:
This story began about 5 months ago. Sarah, my 20 year old daughter, had opted for a semester abroad during her 3rd year of college. I’m in the middle (if there is ever such thing as a middle) of a divorce. My finances are uncertain at best but I can’t imagine not seeing Sarah for the entire 5 months that she will be away. I begin to explore “bushwalking” ideas in Australia initially as a way to save some money but also as a challenge….an adventure which I much needed at this time.
Google “bushwalking Australia” one Sunday morning last January and up comes Frank Wall’s blog. I begin to read with interest. This guy seems to know a lot about the topic. I google some more and keep coming up with the Overland Track. Having never heard about it and feeling appropriately intimidated by the idea of several days with a backpack I decide I’m up to the challenge. Just the right amount of anxiety and excitement.
I send Frank a personal e-mail attempting to get his opinion about me walking the OT solo. He is encouraging and I begin to plan the trip. I read everything I can find about the OT and bushwalking in Tasmania. I even posted on the Bushwalk Tasmania site looking for a walking partner. Eventually I find that the “season” is over just before I plan to arrive and this makes arranging transportation to and from the OT more complicated. Frank jumps in and makes calls for me. This guy really exudes the kindness I’ve heard described about Aussies.
After a couple of months of back and forth with Frank he suggests the possibility of joining me. Sounds great. I’d rather have the experience of bushwalking with someone and especially someone with Frank’s knowledge and caring. Eventually, Frank decides to travel to Tassie and even brings his friend Leon. I had no idea how amazing it was going to be to spend 5+ days with these two blokes.
Jumping ahead…I arrive in Sydney on May 3 and on May 6 I fly into Launceston to meet Frank and Leon for the first time. We share a cab into town where Frank had made reservations at a local pub and for transportation to Cradle Mountain the next morning. Dinner with the creator of the Bushwalking Tasmania website, Nik and his wife Heidi, along with the 3 of us, was a great start. Some good beer, wine and Wallaby made for a fine evening.
The boys resting near Mt Ossa platform.
I’ll spare all of the details about the walk and just paint a broad picture of the experience. Shit weather for the first 2 1/2 days, knocked down by very strong winds, wet boots from the beginning to the end, beautiful enchanted forests, gorgeous mountains (when they were visible through the clouds, freezing rain, non-freezing rain and mizzle). Difficult walking with a heavy pack, lots of fun, the damn roots, and above all the amazing people I met along the way….Jonno, Emily, Ryan, Kendal, Dor, many others whose names I can’t recall and above all my new dear friends Frank and Leon.
I can’t wait to get back to Tassie. ……