We woke up today to a rather cold but clear morning. My knee was OK today but I knew that one false step and I’d be in severe pain again, so at the suggestion of Simon and a few other hikers, I strapped my knee up which proved to be an absolute life saver.
Today’s walk would take us from Lake Windermere to Pelion Hut. We started off at around the 1000m mark and would be making our way gradually down to Forth Creek (750m) and then back up onto another plateau to Pelion Hut (around 820m). We had a distance of 16.8km to cover today.
These days you appear to be walking in total wilderness, untouched by man but this area has an interesting history. The Aboriginal people lived here for over 40,000 years and through their sustainable lifestyle thousands of generations of people called this place home with only the minimal evidence of their existence. More recently hunters and miners were the main users and in 1939 when a mine that had been closed was reopened, Tasmania had one of its earlier conflicts between preservation and resource exploration. Cattle were also grazed on the Pelion Plains until the 1950’s. In the 1980’s another conservation battle was won resulting in the tall eucalyptus forests of the Lemonthyme being added to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Unbelievably the Australian government (as recently as 2014) was trying to de-list 74,000 hectares of these established World Heritage Areas claiming they weren’t pristine and allow logging again. Fortunately this was flatly refused by the United Nations World Heritage Committee. On today’s walk it is hard to spot any of the past users. From the Forth valley lookout you can just see the (mostly overgrown) old Wolfram mine and it isn’t hard to imagine cattle grazing near Pelion Hut.
We walked on through this spectacular countryside while Simon kept us entertained with stories of government propaganda and how the human race are actually ape/spaceman hybrids. We passed an elderly lady (and who appeared to be her friend) while walking through a rather rough section of the track. I’ll be honest, she really didn’t look up to the task. We had a little chat while having a snack. She told us of her adventures in the past and how she had almost frozen to death on an earlier hike in the middle of winter, etc, etc. After our little chat I realized I must have misjudged her and I was actually looking at a battle-hardened warrior. It was cold enough here in November let alone winter (more about this later).
There was a number of places with wonderful lookouts and around lunchtime that day we descended into Forth river which apparently had a camping ground called ‘Frog Flats’. We didn’t really see any camping here (or frogs for that matter) but it was marked on the map and to be honest, we weren’t looking that hard. This valley was heavily timbered and sheltered from the elements. We stopped and had lunch on a small bridge, my knee at this stage was in severe pain from going down hill and stopping only made it worse, but it was bearable once it warmed up and the fact that I knew what it was made me feel a bit better about walking on it.
We arrived at the Pelion hut in the early afternoon. It was the biggest hut I have ever seen, more like a country homestead with lots of rooms and a large deck running all the way around. We found a room, set up our beds and relaxed on the balcony in the sun with a cuppa. This was where my thoughts wandered a bit to how good a cold beer would go down right now and maybe a roast with roast veges and gravy later on. These things were all 3 days walk away in any direction so I just kicked back with my rinsed out tea bag and dreamed of re-hydrating my dehydrated meal.
All the groups gradually arrived at the hut throughout the day, it was beginning to get dark and there was still no sign of the elderly lady or her friend. It turned out that the friend with her, was actually, part of another group and that concerned for the elderly ladies safety that she had stayed with her trying to encourage her on, so she wouldn’t end up frozen on a rock somewhere in the bush. Well and truly after dark, groups began walking back along the track searching for the two ladies. Eventually they were found about half hour walk away slowly making there way to the hut. They eventually arrived quite late in the evening. It was quite bizarre she was actually angry that the other lady had stopped to walk with her. She didn’t really have the basics like matches, gas canisters, head lamp (Simon gave her his), etc, relying on the generosity of other walkers, yet she kept telling us of all the bush-walking she had done. She was definitely a riddle wrapped up in an enigma and I often wonder if she is still out there wandering aimlessly through the bush.
Well I hope you have enjoyed today’s story and stay tuned for day 4’s adventure.