Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Tasmania Day 18

February 6th, 2020

In Tasmania   Day 18 Windemere to  New Pelion Hut. 17 km

The rain roared on the roof all night, regularly waking me, so when 6 rolled around I was ready. A problem with hut hiking is you have to be in other people’s diurnal rhythms. Some folks started rustling around so I decided it was ok to pack up. Was still drizzling and today’s walk was a short time, so I made coffee and relaxed a bit before leaving—the crowd is very companionable, so the early morning was pleasant. One couple got off early, I followed soon after. There was an adventure race on the track today— runners doing all 80k in a day, rushing through puddles, sliding down rocks. Didn’t look much like fun. Once I passed the first hiking couple, I looked forward to a day of trail solitude, but was instead interrupted every five or ten minutes by feet pounding up behind me (so I’d hop to the side of the trail). This went on until at least 10:30. All were jovial, but I missed my quiet misty morning hike.

Most of the morning that mist was heavy—all I could see was the immediate forest (so I laughed at a side trip for a scene overlook). The trail gradually descended to the Forth River (lowest point on track) through a nothafagus rainforest with amazing moss-covered trunks and fallen logs (some huge eucalyptus mixed in). Dozens of little streams crossing the trail in the midst of it all—straight up magic.  The day was billed as 5 hours, exactly what it took and I found myself at an incredibly nice (and spacious) hut by lunchtime. 

Just before it, several large eucalyptus trees had fallen and were being split up for firewood. The most intense wine-like smell was rising up from the splits. The aromas on this track are striking, reminding me how pure the air is here, with the wind blowing off Antarctica. Got settled, hung everything up to dry, ate a big lunch and wandered to the original Pelion hut, a copper miner’s shanty with four old wooden bunks. Looks straight out of New Zealand’s South Island old huts. The one here is a museum piece, the ones In NZ I slept in.

T. Hugh Crawford