Kia Ora Hut to Frog Flats – Overland Track in snow August 2010

Welcome to Part Four 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.

In this section they encountered a lot of snow and skipped Pelion Hut, camping at Frog Flats instead. It looks much nicer there than in summer where the leech population increases!

Over to Nik:

Before leaving home, the weather forecast for day 4 was for fine sunny weather, and for day 5, it was “heavy rain”. Not wanting to do the longest day of the walk in heavy rain, and getting some idea of how much longer it might be while wading through deep snow in heavy rain, we made the decision to make our fine weather fourth day longer than originally planned in order to make the next day of expected bad weather shorter. Even if it meant pitching and packing a tent in the rain.

So we set off somewhat earlier than on the preceding days, aiming to have Lunch at Pelion Hut instead of staying there overnight as originally planned.

Mt Pelion East from Kiaora

Mt Pelion East from Kiaora

It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky as we left Kiaora, and only patchy cloud for most of the day. And what brilliant views we had all day. Snow covered ground and snow covered mountains everywhere we looked.

We used the snow shoes for a few hours up and over Pelion Gap, but it was still exceptionally slow going with the snow being very deep in places, and the snow shoes still sinking in up to waist deep frustratingly often (but still a LOT better than it had been before we put them on). The snow shoes also gave us the freedom to walk side by side for a while, and not worry too much about sticking to the track, and just making our own way to ‘the gap’.

Early in the day we could hear the helicopters doing their run between the Arm River road and the next of the private huts at Windy Ridge, as the pilot had yesterday told us he would be doing. About three quarters of the way up to Pelion Gap, we could hear a helicopter coming up behind us and turning around we watched our mate from yesterday flying low up the track behind us a little off to the side, and then nearly right over us with a wave.

Mrs Beach, falling waist deep in snow again, suggested that we should have asked him to drop us off at Pelion Hut the day before.

Approaching Pelion Gap

Approaching Pelion Gap

We had our morning tea at Pelion Gap while taking in the astounding views of Pelion East, Ossa, Cradle, Barn, and various other mountains near and far in all directions. It was a beautiful sunny day, with everything covered in snow, and not a breath of wind it was just magic!

Taking a Break at Pelion Gap

Taking a Break at Pelion Gap

But we had to press on, and eventually got to Pelion Hut where we had a relaxed lunch of hot noodles on the verandah. We then continued on for another two hours to Frog Flats, with much less snow on that part of the track, but still patches here and there.

Mt Oakleigh from Pelion Hut

Mt Oakleigh from Pelion Hut

We pitched our tent on a thin cover of snow at Frog Flats after a 7.5 hour walk from Kiaora, with the weather still holding out.

Frog Flats Camp Site

Frog Flats Camp Site

Dinner was absolutely delicious – Pasta, with pesto, home dried veges, pine nuts and chopped salami. I’m definitely doing this one again!

Supper was port and home made choc-chip biscuits.

A lone walker passed by while we were having dinner, and it was just starting to get dark. He was aiming for Pelion Hut that night. It was going to be dark in about 30 minutes, and he had about a 2 hour walk to get there. I hope he made it OK.

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