In Tasmania Day 9 Louisa River to Deadman’s Cove 13 km
This was billed as the most difficult day of the track and lived up to it. A simple hike, up and over the Ironbound Range and down to the sea again—the mountain tops are windy, the beaches are as well, funneling in Antarctic air. Started nearly sea level, climbed to over 900 meters in a couple of hours on a very well-benched track. In anticipation of bad weather late in the day, everyone who ended up at the campsite got off early. Three groups— 5 Aussies, a mother daughter pair, and three uni student (2 French, 1 English). My solitary tramp has become much more social. The initial climb was very much like going up stairs. We were soon strung out over the slope and after a bit I pushed ahead, never looking back. A wonderful crew, but this was a day to see alone. Quick temperature swings as the sun would blast down on the thin vegetation and exposed quartzite, then clouds and high winds with the occasional sprinkle. Have to say, I’m pleased (as always) with my new ZPacks gear—in this case my rain pants and coat, super light, tough and high performance which was necessary on a rough day like today. The peak was a bit socked in, but still impressive. It was good to finally be at some real elevation on a trek that has more often than not involved floundering about in a low-lying jungle. The descent was difficult. The track was not well-formed, the rain came in, and it was a very long way to the water’s edge. Apart from the views at the top, some of the best parts of the day was actually the descent (before fatigue set in). It dropped through a nothafagus forest where a bird with a varying 2 and 3 note calls and I traded whistles for the better part of the afternoon. The end was through a eucalyptus rain forest with many old growth trees still standing. More impressive were the fallen ones. Seeing them provide habitat for so many plants, insects, and animals makes me wonder why humans insist on “improving” the forest.
The descent also brought contact with tiny toads and some salamanders (no tiger snakes today), and when I finally got to camp, I was greeted by a strange animal looking like a large cat with a more vicious snout and white polka dots on its side. I later learned it was an Eastern Quoll, just one of the unusual creatures Tasmania has to offer. Eventually the crew arrived, set camp made dinner and some built a fire in one of the pits. Given fire conditions everywhere that seemed presumptuous, but we were coated in rain, and the ground was saturated. No way that fire was going anywhere. It was good to have built it as very late three exhausted trekkers arrived having hiked all the way from Cox Bight. They were a fit crew—triathlon, rock climbing, tough mudder types (one a quite famous wild adventure person)—but the day had done them in. Some quiet time and stories by the fire was good medicine for all.
T. Hugh Crawford