Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Ok,
Back to reality, let’s get some hiking stories happening here!

Nik Sands from Bushwalk Australia has kindly offered to share the story of his adventures on the Overland Track in August. Nik and his wife Heidi “escaped” from the children and headed off together on what turned out to be a pretty tough and challenging Overland Track trip.

This trip report was originally published at Bushwalk Australia in several sections. Nik suggested that readers of Our Hiking Blog may find it interesting reading.  In massive agreement with that sentiment, we present the first part of their story on hiking the Overland Track from south to north, in winter.

It is quite an adventure….. over to Nik.

Earlier this year when my not-really-a-bushwalker wife Heidi suggested walking the Overland Track in winter as part of her training for the “Burnie 10″ (10km road run), I jumped on the opportunity and immediately compared diaries, and booked it into the only available winter week in our combined calendars to make sure she couldn’t change her mind and that it would go ahead. We decided to include the lakeside walk rather than catch the ferry, and being a slow walking team, and unused to deep snow, allowed 7 days.

The trip finally happened last week from the 26th of August to the 1st of September, 2010, and turned out to coincide with Tasmania’s best snowfalls for about 6 years (according to the Ben Lomond ski reports). We carried snow shoes and used them on 5 of the 7 days.

Snow shoes used for Overland track

Our itinerary in brief was as follows:

Day 1 – Cynthia Bay to Echo Point Hut (after morning meetings and a 3pm start).

Day 2 – Echo Point to Windy Ridge Hut (Bert Nichols Hut).

Day 3 – Windy Ridge to Kiaora Hut.

Day 4 – Kiaora to Frog Flats (in tent).

Day 5 – Frog Flats to Windermere Hut.

Day 6 – Windermere to Waterfall Valley Hut.

Day 7 – Waterfall Valley to Ronnie Creek.

We met people on the track on every day except for day 1 and day 6, but we only shared a hut or campsite once, at Windermere on night 5.

This walk ended up being much more difficult than usual due to lots of deep soft snow, but the scenery was even more impressive than usual due to lots of deep soft snow.

Day 1 – Cynthia Bay to Echo Point Hut (after morning meetings and a 3pm start).

After morning meetings, and ignoring the weather forecasters’ “bushwalkers alerts”, we met up with the ‘Whiskeylovers’ who had very kindly agreed to drop us off and pick us up at the end. They also decided to walk in to Echo Point with us for the first night. There was a considerable amount of snow on the road driving to Lake St Clair and I was surprised at how fast the snow plough up there travels when it came flying around the corner towards us spraying sow in the air. As a bonus, we watched a pair of wedge tailed eagles flying quite close to the road during the drive over the plateau.

While getting our packs on at the Cynthia Bay visitors centre, it began to snow again, drifting into the corridor where we’d just filled in the log book. This was a sign of things to come.

We began walking from Cynthia Bay at about 3:00pm and it continued to snow on and off during the afternoon and evening. After a walking for a while, the two ‘Whiskylovers’ went ahead while Mrs Beach and I continued on at our own more moderate pace. Eventually the light began to fade and we had to start using head torches to see where we were going for the last half an hour. Eventually, Mrs Beach’s torchlight fell on a sign next to the track that simply said “Toilet”, and we knew we’d reached the hut in the complete darkness at about 6:30pm. What I didn’t realise until the next day was that we’d already passed the actual Echo Point Hut sign a few metres earlier and had very nearly gone straight past the hut in the darkness with our heads down trying to avoid tripping on the root covered track.

The thermometer in the hut said that it was 2°C inside when we arrived, and 1°C outside.

Dinner was fresh vegetable stir fry with rice, accompanied by some white wine which the Whiskeylovers kindly shared with us.

Supper was Lindt chocolates.

Comments

  1. says

    Ah, brings back memories. Just had another 30-50cm dump of snow on our tents over yesterday and the day before at Lake Gwendy (and frost inside the tent yesterday morning! Saw 3 wedge tails there too!

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