In this final article, Nik Sands from Bushwalk Australia shares the story of the last day of his trip from Lake St Clair to Cradle Mountain with his wife Heidi. They completed the Overland Track, walking south to north, in August 2010. It was a fantastic trip with lots of snow and beautiful scenery!
Over to Nik
We had arranged for a 2:00pm pick up at Ronnie Creek with the ‘Whiskeylovers’ but we knew that the deepest snow was yet to come, and the German bloke at Windermere said he’d taken 9 hours to do this section of the walk 2 days earlier. So we set an alarm for 5:00am to give us time to cook our pancakes and get going as soon as possible after it was light.
Well the pancakes were a complete flop due to the new thin-metal titanium pan I was using. They burnt in the middle before cooking around the edges, as I’d been warned by other bushwalkers would happen with such a pan (unlike my good solid Trangia fry pan). So I ended up having two scrambled pancakes before giving up and filling up on dry ryvita biscuits and other odd bits and pieces of food. We ended up leaving Waterfall Valley at 7:10am, hoping we’d get to Ronnie Creek before 3:00pm.
Sure enough, the snow on the first few hours walking was deeper and slushier even than before. There had been 45 millimetres of rain overnight at Cradle Mountain and it had blown a gale all night, but had settled down somewhat by the time we left. Kim said that the rain had washed out about 2 feet of the depth of the snow from the day before.
With our snow shoes on, we nearly kept up with Kim’s quick walking pace, even though she had no snow shoes. Although walking is hardly the word. Nearly every step was between knee and waist deep in snow for Kim, and for us snow-shoers it was about 1 in 10 or 20 steps went down deep.
However, after rounding the corner at the north west of Cradle Mountain, the snow became more solid and better for the snow shoes at which point we were able to finally walk with confidence with the snow shoes, which was to last well all the way to Marions Lookout.
Kitchen Hut’s lower level was almost completely under snow, with a small snow ramp having been built up to the reach to top level door. I was like a little kid being very excited to be able to actually use the top door at Kitchen Hut for my first time ever. We enjoyed a relaxed lunch there before continuing on across the plateau.
The snow ended abruptly just before Marions Lookout. It was moderately deep on one side of a clear line, and none at all on the other side of the line. Below Marions Lookout we still had the occasional drift of snow all the way to Ronnie Creek, but not terribly deep, and it became more and more patchy the lower the altitude. On the way down from Marions Lookout to Crater Lake, Mrs Beach enjoyed bum-sliding through any remaining snow drifts on this steep section of track, considering this easier and quicker than battling through these snow drifts on foot.
We parted ways with Kim at the Dove Lake turn off as she’d left her car there, and we met up with the Whiskey Lovers at Ronnie Creek at 2:15pm just after they’d returned from Crater Peak – only 15 minutes late, and 2 hours better than what we’d anticipated might be the case. 7 hours for the day from Waterfall Valley.
So here we end this epic trip report. Many thanks to Nik for sharing this terrific information. Remember, Bushwalk Tasmania is a fantastic resource for all things bushwalking, in not only Tasmania, but across Australia. Drop by and check it out, you won’t be disappointed.