Some Thoughts From the Path
During my recent trip to Tasmania to walk the Overland Track I kept a journal of each day for the benefit of my long term memory and also to try and capture some of the raw feelings of the time, which have now become hazier after having had access to warm running water and electricity for so long. The following posts are typed straight from the pages of that journal and have only been edited for grammatical purposes. Enough literature already exists on the specifications of the walk that I thought it unnecessary to include too much geographical description, but I hope that those reading this are inspired to either take on this worthwhile challenge or at least take a meander in their own local version of nature.
Overland Track Trip – Day 1
Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley
23rd Nov. 2016
We had been warned. Today was going to be a big day. Although it was relatively short, as far as bush walks go, only 10.7km. But it took the best part of 6 hours and reduced my legs to a jittery mess by the time it was necessary to set up our campsite. We set off at midday on a grey drizzly day, looking like packhorses with the handicap of only 2 legs. Every time I thought we must be getting close to a stopping point the environment changed and with it came new challenges. With those challenges came extraordinarily beautiful scenery and some unexpected surprises. One of those surprises came within 200 metres of the start of our walk, a stern looking wombat grazed just to the side of the track. It was so amazing to see such a creature in the wild. I actually had to remember that I wasn’t looking at him from the outside of a zoo enclosure. It reminded me of the importance of looking after the environment here and everywhere that our native animals rely on it for survival.
It wasn’t the only lesson this wise old wombat had for me today. As we passed him, I naturally wanted to capture the moment with a photo. Only to discover that my camera battery had died with the cold temperature. I was annoyed that it had failed me so quickly and at such an inopportune moment but I became aware that I hadn’t really looked at the animal. So I stopped faffing about with the camera and stood and watched. He was absolutely gorgeous in a grandfatherly way. He was portly and waddled as he went about his business of looking for tasty grass shoots. As my camera was out of operation for the rest of the day, I was forced to make myself present in all of the moments when the experience and scenery took my breath away.
From the open valley we ascended through rocky stairs and then onto rainforest, complete with streaming waterfall. Despite being only an hour into the walking section of todays journey. We both decided it was time for lunch. The bus station coffee and sandwich at 8am had long since kept the hunger at bay.
Day walkers seemed equally impressed and interested in the adventure we had just begun and all wandered on with similar looks of bemusement. “Madness” one lady exclaimed as she and her husband continued back to their car and presumably their comfortable hotel.
Today was billed as the hardest of the whole walk, but as walkers are all required to travel in the same direction at this time of year, we were not alone. In my experience, people who spend time and money on a holiday to walk through the countryside, tend to be the nicest you will ever meet. Todays group of trekkers has been no exception and I hope that we meet up with these fellow travellers as we continue over the next 6 days. Most people are more than willing to offer encouragement or shoot the breeze over a freeze dried, rehydrated curry. Also, the all important practicality of female camper friendship that consists of categorising the usability of the loos was alive and well this afternoon. Although they were clean, I was very glad to have been given warning of the smell. Side Note: A newer toilet block has been built at the first campsite, Waterfall Valley, however we were staying at the old hut.
Walking through absolutely stunning landscape today reminded me of why I enjoy walking so much. It allows you to see places and things unavailable to those who choose to travel via faster modes of transportation. When not having to concern yourself with careful foot placement, it also affords you time to think. I remember having thoughts today that I wished I could have written down. But whether fortunately or not, I let them drift away. This may be something we have forgotten how to do in the constant record of modern life that is the digital age. Not everything needs to be shared or recorded (I say somewhat hypocritically as I record my holiday diary). Thoughts can come and go and the process of letting go makes them no less important, only that it no longer serves you.
It is finally getting dark here at Old Waterfall Valley Hut. It’s almost 9pm and my exhausted body is relaxing painfully into the small luxury that is my sleeping mat and the warmth of my sleeping bag.
I go to bed tonight tired; proud of what we have achieved and closer than I have ever been to completing another of my life goals – The Overland.