In Tasmania Day 20 Bert Nichols Hut to Pine Valley Hut 11 km
Snow! Woke to a snow globe view (for all you northern hemisphere folks, it is the middle of summer here). Rain poured all night, shifting to freezing rain and snow mix in morning. Just planned to walk three hours today to Pine Valley Hut which is off of the official overland Track but a popular place for some day hikes. I’m two days ahead of schedule and the weather is supposed to break tomorrow, so I plan two nights there before heading down to Lake St Clair. The walk out was strange— the terrain was beautiful, though the trail was pretty much an ankle deep stream the whole way. It was just freezing, but when the sun peaked out, it would be hot. Then of course another band of precipitation would come on with wind, and I’d get the gloves back on.
The track up to the hut was a flood plain with some very fast moving rivers well out of their banks. Crossed a couple of swinging bridges which were very kiwiesque. Most striking though were the odd moments when, in the middle of a eucalyptus/nothafagus rain forest matted with moss and overtopped stream banks, the sun would blast through even though the snow and sleet continued to fall. Everything would light up green and sparkles in a positively surreal scene. But then I would have to slog on in the stream as to stop would bring on the pure cold of mountain water.
The hut is older, a bit damp and cold, but it has an old coal stove that takes some of the edge off. Outside the smell of burning coal reminded me of the old days as a child In Woodstock when people’s furnaces still burned Valley Builders and Supply coal. Some climbers are here waiting for clear weather for some climbs as well as some folks from the crew I’ve been trekking alongside for the past few days.
T. Hugh Crawford