We woke up to rain and a rather cold and wet morning. Miraculously my knee had no pain this morning although I expected it to flare up later on. This didn’t happen though, nor would it happen for the rest of the trip which was both surprising and amazing. Today’s walk would take us from Pelion Hut to Kia Ora Hut a distance of 8.6km. The elevation of both these huts is just over 800m and we would be following ‘Douglas Creek’ all the way up to its source at the extremely exposed ‘Pelion Gap’ (1126m). We said goodbye to the other campers, most of whom we would meet again tonight and, of coarse, ‘Old Luv’ from yesterday, who planned to spend a day or so at this hut before she moved on (damn good idea). We rugged up at the start but once we got moving the layers started to come off.
Every major plant community on the ‘Overland track’ is represented in this section of the walk including heathland, scrub, grassland, eucalyptus forest, buttongrass moorland and alpine. The first half today, up to ‘Pelion Gap’,proved to be a little tougher than it looked as the track was quite rough and exposed with rocks and bare roots of trees. The first couple of hours walk was reasonably flat but as we approached the gap, become rather steep. We stopped off for a break on some large rocks on the track in a shelters spot close to the creek and for just a moment the clouds parted and we were bathed in glorious sunshine at which point I was back in my T-shirt, this was, however, very short lived and by the time our 10 minute break was over it was back to drizzle. As we got closer to the gap you could feel and hear the weather changing as we walked into a cloud.
We came to the gap were it turned very cold very fast, I was in a T-shirt as we climbed towards it but was soon wrapped up in jumpers and wet weather gear again. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, which is most important, is to spend the small amount it costs for a pack cover, they are brilliant for protecting all your gear from being soaked and of coarse from birds when you leave it anywhere unguarded.
It’s funny, well not really, maybe more interesting, how your body works on a trip like this. It’s burning up large amounts of energy, it’s getting stronger each day and the pack is getting lighter. Ascents are always tough, but there is no question anymore whether you wont just power up them. That’s on the outside but on the inside you go through highs and lows and everyone is experiencing these feelings at different times. I was experiencing a bit of low on the way up to the gap and we had been traveling through very rough terrain where you need to focus heavily on every step you take. The rest of today’s walk though was all down hill and the next couple of km’s was on boardwalk, so extremely pleasant to walk on. On top of that we were now walking in, what was to me, completely new and unique Alpine and deciduous heath country filled with areas of peat and magnificent little streams that obviously feed the larger creeks and rivers. Like the rest of the trip, there is no noises from vehicles, no phones, no fences, just the path and total nature with nothing to do but enjoy. I let Simon and Sam get ahead a bit and just chilled, walking at a relaxing pace, on my own and breathed in the beauty of the place. I felt, literally, on another level.
We arrived at the Kia Ora hut quite early in the afternoon, which was a rather small hut after the Taj from yesterday. We half considered walking on to the ‘Bert Nichols’ hut (which according to track notes was only slightly bigger, more about ‘slightly bigger’ on day 5’s trip) but had got to know and enjoy the company of the groups we had shared this trip with, got used to their snores and potato chip bag mattresses, so decided to stop here for the night.
There was a consent drizzle and we were confined to the hut for most of the rest of the afternoon, apart from a brief period where I went and took some photos of Kia Ora falls (mainly to relieve my Cabin fever). Unbelievably there was a tent set up in the rain. I found out later on it belonged to a young couple, obviously in need of a little privacy, that wasn’t going to happen in the hut. Because of the weather the hut ended up packed to the point of, almost, standing room only. We had a very cosy night, which wasn’t all bad, we were dry, warm, feed and in good company.
Hope you have enjoyed day 4 and will see you next time as we begin our decent towards Lake St.Clair.