The Overland Track is one of the most renowned hiking trails in the world.
Every year I have decided to give myself a special birthday present. While other people tend to drink until they lose consciousness, or give themselves material indulgences; I have chosen to take a trip to a different route and prove myself every year.
The Overland Track was quite a test. 65Kms in 7 days with a changing climate, marked ascents and topographical difficulties not suitable for the novice hiker.
Tasmania is the southernmost region of Australia, and contrary to ignorance, it is not a country, it is a state of this great nation.
Almost isolated from Australia itself, Tasmania is 45 minutes by flight from Melbourne, and about 8 hours by ferry if you bring your own car.
Of the hiking trails I have done, this is one that I will never be able to forget because of the spectacular landscapes and the diversity of the fauna with which you come into contact in an almost religious way. And it is that everything conspires in this route so that you absent yourself from the world completely and immerse yourself in a completely different experience than what you have previously done.
On the website of Tasmania Parks the first warning you get about the toughness of this trail is that "it is not suitable for hikers without experience and without adequate equipment." It is classified by themselves as grade 4, not only for the slopes, but for the changing weather and because once you start, the only way to get out of the park is by finishing the tour.
In this spirit, I decided to do a little more of my part not only to get in shape, but to review my equipment more carefully. 7 days carrying all your food, the tent, general equipment and clothes is not something to take lightly. A 50 / 60kilo backpack midway can feel like a 100kg one.
Carrying "redundancies" is necessary but careful precisely for this reason. A pair of batteries for the flashlight, enough gas for 9 days in an emergency and at least a pair of dry socks and briefs is necessary.
As the climate is changeable, and something that we experience in our own flesh, it is necessary to wear a raincoat not only for yourself, but another for the backpack and some hermetic bags (dry bags) for clothes. Nothing worse than lying down all wet after walking between 5 and 7 hours each day to keep up.
Tasmania has an incredible animal wealth, and depending on the time of year that you do the route, you must prevent that you will be sharing the road with snakes; just as we were able to verify on the first day on the way from Lauceston Airport to the Visitor Center. A large brown snake (Brown Snake) ran into us on the road as we went 90km / h, perhaps determined to enjoy the heat of the asphalt.
As in all national parks, it is essential to register at the visitor center. With this you guarantee not only your safety, but that of other hikers. Tasmania Parks keeps a careful watch on the number of hikers on the trail at the same time, both to avoid ecological damage, and to keep control of the groups sleeping in the campgrounds along the way.
In our case, as I am a member of the Melbourne Bushwalker Club, we have been able to not only get a group discount, but also use the designated wooden platforms for group camping.
These platforms are ideal for keeping the tent elevated off the cold ground, and a bit cleaner for picking up and departing in the next segment.
Waterfall Valley Hut.
The first journey, to begin to warm up the legs, is approximately 5 hours for about 10.5 km. Of distance to this camping area. After crossing a few wetlands, the ascent begins, with some descents along the path consisting of loose stone and alpine-type vegetation.
The wind is quite strong at times, so it is advisable to wear a windbreaker type jacket to prevent the cold from seeping into your bones.
The start is already promising. In the distance I can see wallabies, similar to kangaroos, but much smaller.
The landscapes are incredible. Mountains everywhere decorated by green valleys and covered by clouds that swirl on their tops.
On this first journey, almost halfway through, you can leave your backpacks on the side of the road, and crown Craddle Mountain, at about 1,545 meters above sea level, one of the highest mountains in Australia.
The silence and peace are remarkable. It's understandable why Tasmanians want to keep this area as unspoilt as possible.
After a starry night, cold but comforting, there is nothing better than opening the tent and taking that first breath of pure and fresh air. The lungs are cleaned and even hurt so pure ...
Morning coffee is mandatory before preparing an oatmeal with dehydrated fruits that I prepared in ziploc type bags, both as snacks for the road, as an ingredient for this breakfast.
Everything I have packed in fair quantities in hermetic bags. Before leaving Melbourne, I not only planned meals, but measured up to the necessary tablespoons of coffee, oatmeal, and powdered milk. All unnecessary weight stays in the city, not on my shoulders.
After a walk of 8 km for about 3 hours. There are a lot of short drives from the camp. Ideally, leave your backpack and tent armed, and make a couple of them.
The views are incredible, and although the weather is not accompanying us at the beginning of the journey. Traveling to Tasmania and taking advantage of it is unforgivable.
If it weren't for the chilly temperature, a cap on Lake Will would be ideal.
Today will be long. 17 kms. in plains in about 7 hours. Despite looking easy, the distance with a heavy backpack in tow does not make it so easy.
As we walk through the plains, many of the parts of the path have been reinforced with wooden boardwalks in order to protect the surface, such as avoiding slides in the mud. The wood has been covered with metal mesh to help the boots to maintain traction without burrowing in mud, or slipping on damp and sometimes moldy wood.
On the side of the road, without any fear of human beings, we found Wombats rummaging through the earth looking for food. It is incredible how animals are not afraid of human beings at all; Well, the previous afternoon inside the camping area we had the company of small wallabies called Jays ... the smallest of that family of marsupials.
With 1,617 meters of altitude. Mount Ossa is the highest mountain in Tasmania. Which you can do as a side trip during the 9 km of distance to travel today.
As I indicated there are many trails that you can do from the base camps, or midway.
It is important to take into account the weather and fog. In several routes we find cliffs on the sides of the path. And even in one of them there are constant written reminders to stay on the path, since in past years, walkers have fallen into the void by deviating from the route in the middle of the fog.
Another of the anecdotes that the park rangers have told us is on the way to El Laberinto, an additional step in which a tourist disappeared years ago wrapped in the mist. His remains were never found, and surely, according to the park ranger who visited us today, they were consumed by the tasmanian devils, which inhabit the area and can be scavengers.
Bert Nichols Hut
We have crossed suspension bridges, climbed slopes and descended in the middle of a diverse area of trees that occasionally opens to reveal beautiful mountain peaks in the distance. Today it has not stopped raining, but today's 10Km are mandatory if we want to keep the schedule and that the bus can pick us up back at the visitor center on time.
There's not much scope for laziness or sensitivity to rain, after all, what hiker doesn't like mud? If I was picky, I'd stay in town. The Canes they are of great help in these conditions.
Already all the clothes have their own essence, without I explain well, at this point. After all, saving on weight leaves us deciding between smelling good or having a full stomach.
The night before would rank as the worst. Possums who know the delicacies that campers bring, decided to actively prowl the campground last night.
In the middle of the night, a scream… One of the companions due to laziness or carelessness did not properly close her food, and one of these rodents did not forgive this fault. He punched a hole in the tent and decided to proceed to this girl's food stocks, and eat on top of her sleeping bag, waking her up with a great fright, and a movie scream in the midst of silence and darkness.
The next day we assessed the damage to her store, and we decided to share our food with her. For the stubborn rodent had time to get hold of a good part of his food.
This is a reminder. Seal food and trash tightly in several airtight bags to avoid the smell that invites these local residents.
Lake St. Clair.
The last journey has given us a beautiful day. 9 kms to Lake St. Clair, a spectacular reservoir with pristine waters surrounded by mountains. We have at our disposal a cabin to sleep, but we decided to camp on the shore of the lake. A night with the sound of the water gently hitting the shore under the stars is an incredible reward for a week on the road.
The clothes are already looser and the backpack it is lighter. Losing weight during a journey is one of the unintended benefits reminiscent of effort.
The body already feels tired, but the mind is in a state of incredible peace and tranquility. I feel that I have communed with nature in an intimate and restorative way. I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy this setting and to live the experience.
We have several hours on the way to the visitor center, as we have decided to walk the rest of the way and not take the boat to the final site.
The latest “Welcome” and “Congratulations, you made it” signs that the park has upon arrival make me feel excited. I achieved one more goal, I have celebrated my birthday by reminding myself that age is not an excuse, but an opportunity.
As in this park it is not allowed to do you firesWhen we arrive at the center, we have the rest of our gas cans in containers for it. Or we donate the half-used containers to the park rangers who come to the shelters.
THERE ARE SHOWERS WITH HOT WATER AND A RESTAURANT !!!