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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Tasmania Day 19

February 6th, 2020

In Tasmania    Day 19 New Pelion Hut to Bert Nichols Hut 18.2 km

One person I spoke with last week claimed that it rains on the Overland Track 300 days per year. My experience thus far has been pretty much that proportion. Today demanded flexibility, as the weather report was varied (for the next days as well). In keeping with this trek, my morning departure time keeps growing later— today 8:00. People rustle about early but take long to pack up. My ritual is long established and efficient, so I’m always ready to get going early unless, as in recent days, I delay for coffee. Part of my motivation is the pure pleasure of walking out of camp alone while the morning mist is still rising, always a magical moment and lost when the sun gets high.  Today there was no danger of the sun burning off any mist— the rain was steady and sometimes hard. The A plan was to hike about 4 km up to the saddle between Mt Pelion and Ossa, drop pack and climb one of them. Ossa is highest in Tasmania but Pelion looked more inviting on the map. Neither were inviting today as visibility was about 10 yards.


So I pressed forward on a well-formed track across a moor with occasional blasts from the wind and rain. I soon passed Kia Ora Hut, the official target for today, as  the mountain climb was to take up much of the afternoon. Instead I opted to push for Bert Nichols (which was much the same distance as the previous two days except for a side trip to an amazing and powerful waterfall.

The falls were impressive but more so once again were the moss covered rain forest— still dominated by eucalyptus and nothafagus.  Stopped for many pictures—just all green! The latter part of the day climbed up out of the  Mersey river valley up through a pass and down into another watershed. Though not quite the Gottard Pass, it’s still a fascinating moment to transition from one watershed to the next—the ecological shifts are sometimes subtle, but important. Different flora because of new soil composition, moisture, angle of the sun and wind. A short but rooty descent into the new valley soon brought the hut— like  New Pelion, Burt Nichols is very spacious, but the weather front has made it very cold. Everyone was sitting shivering in most of their winter layers (it is still summer here) and snow is predicted.

T. Hugh Crawford