This is the second part of a trip report courtesy of Nik Sands from Bushwalk Australia Nik and his wife Heidi completed the Overland Track, walking south to north, in August 2010. It was to be one of the “snowiest” Overland trips for several years.
Over to Nik:
During the night a good 5 or 10 cm of fresh snow had fallen, and during the morning it continued to snow quite heavily at times. This was truly beautiful, and for Heidi, it was both exciting and intimidating, being the first time she had done any walking in heavy snow, either in the air or on the ground.
We started the cold morning with some hot porridge cooked properly with real rolled oats, salt & butter. We then set out on the track for our first full day of walking after saying our farewells to the Whiskeylovers (friends who had taken us to Lake St Clair) and confirming arrangements for pick up – 2pm on Wednesday at Ronnie Creek, which should give us plenty of time to do the 4 hour walk from Waterfall Valley that day.
There was quite a lot of fresh snow on the track and in the trees which was very pretty, and snow continued to fall occasionally. On the approach to Narcissus where the track skirts around the swampy flood plain there was a slight breeze which chilled us to the bone so that by the time we got into Narcissus hut for lunch were were very cold indeed. So we rugged up as much as we could and got stuck into our Banjo’s Bakery pide lunches – chicken, mustard and salad for me, and chicken avocado for the missus.
By the time we’d finished lunch we were bitterly cold despite wearing nearly everything we’d carried and being inside a hut. We had a brief but serious discussion about whether we should continue on or not, knowing that we’d just walked merely the easiest part of the entire track and were already feeling rather tired and very cold. Neither of us was willing to be the one to call off the trip at this point, so we donned the packs and headed out into the winter again.
For the rest of the afternoon and most of the next day, we battled with fresh snow on the track and small trees bent over criss-crossing each other across the track as they were weighed down by the fresh snowfall. In some cases, a karate-chop would dislodge enough snow for the trees to spring upright again out of our way, rather like a gate opening, but in most cases we had to scrape, push and battle our way through this tangle of snow-laden vegetation. The snow was getting a little deeper in places but was quite soft and not quite deep or hard enough to use the snow shoes yet.
We eventually arrived at the newish monstrosity of a ‘hut’ at Windy Ridge, called Bert Nichols Hut. We were rather wet at this point, and got cold again rather quickly after stopping. Our wet weather gear was good, but the snow that gets caught up in the bottom of the trousers, and in the cuffs of the sleeves melts onto the wrists and ankles, and then wicks up the inside of whatever we were wearing. So we were wet up to the knees and elbows at least, and then damp from sweat all over.
It was a relief earlier in the day when we met a group of 10 walkers who’s assured us that there was still plenty of firewood for the wood heater in the hut. I had carried in a small supply of fire lighters for this hut and the next one just to make sure I could get the heaters going quickly even without having a good supply of kindling. So soon after bringing up a few armfuls of logs from under the hut, we had a roaring log fire going. There’s no way that fire is capable of heating that enormous room in such a poorly designed bushwalkers hut, but it sure was nice having it to ourselves as we sat right in front of it all evening.
We set up our beds in front of the log fire to sleep for the night.
Dinner was home dried pasta with a home made pasta sauce. It wasn’t quite right, but I know what I did wrong and I think it will be a great meal next time I do it.
Supper was port and Lindt chocolate.