Discussion specifically about the Overland Track should be posted in this subforum, including side trips and the Cradle Mountain day walk area. Alternative access routes and connecting routes belong in the parent forum.
Overland Track App
An electronic guidebook for planning and walking the Overland Track.
Download this app for loads of information about planning, gear, food, accommodation and much more about the Overland Track.
You will also find topo maps, terrain profiles and track notes for offline use.
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Thu 26 Jul, 2018 8:41 pm
Due to various constraints, I have to hike the Overland Track in 5.5 days. (My booking is in late December to give context to possible weather conditions although obviously you never know in Tasmania.) If there was an absolute emergency with weather, obviously I would have to accept that, but my childcare arrangements for my daughter back in Melbourne, my flights and transfer times have it that I need to certainly do my best to do 5.5 days.
I start at 7 am on Day 1 (having overnighted the night before in Cradle Mountain Highlanders), and I have to make it in time for a 2.30 pm transfer from Lake St Clair to Launceston on Day 6 on Overland Track Transport.
I've got the map and the guidebook for the Overland Track.
Does anyone have thoughts / advice on ensuring I do it in 5.5 days, in terms of recommended plan? I am moderately fit, pretty lightweight pack.
I'd like to do at least one (or both) of the waterfalls walk sidetracks. I have a pretty lightweight pack, but my fitness isn't as great as it once was as I am single mother of a two year old juggling work and looking after her, without any family support. I am increasing my training and hikes in the lead-up to the OT, currently 5"7 and 70 kg and hope to be a little lighter by then. I'm originally from NZ so hiking, particularly bush hiking - day hiking, was something default normal and hiking comes naturally.
The main possible "spanner" with any mountain-climbing side tracks is I do annoyingly get altitude sickness at quite low altitudes compared to others. I was in denial of this for some time, but my friends / former partners having witnessed it have drilled in the reality that unfortunately despite my mental toughness and perseverance, I have got altitude sickness staying at Kasbah du Toubkal (which is at 1820 m altitude) in Imlil in Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The locals in Imlil kept telling my then-boyfriend that it was altitude sickness, but I was incredulous and stubbornly believed it was just a cold virus - but no it was definitely altitude sickness. I had the dry cough, short breath, swelling of face and hands, unable to sleep, woke up not knowing which way was up and vomiting several times in the bathroom, not walking straight. Not many people get altitude sickness at that altitude but a certain minority percentage do and I am unfortunately in that minority. We had driven up from Marrakech to Imlil in 1 day, so there wasn't any acclimatisation. When my mother heard about it, she reminded me that I'd also got altitude sickness on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand as a 12 year old on a family ski holiday, which I hadn't remembered, the only one of a group of 24, and she was very annoyed at me potentially ruining the holiday (a one week holiday) and they nearly had to descend but I did eventually come right. I don't know what altitude the ski lodge hut was at, but I'd guess maybe 1600 metres near Whakapapa ski field.
So I *think* my threshold for altitude sickness may be at around 1500 metres, annoyingly. And Mt Ossa is of course over that, at 1617 metres according to Google.
I'd like to thus be conservative in not pushing myself to get altitude sickness. I'm on a solo trip - my first hike of this length, and a very rare holiday without my 2 year old which I do want to be enjoyable. (Yes I am taking a PLB, an emergency bivvy bag and all the "right stuff" in as far as one reasonably can, and will be looking to weather forecast and being sensible.)
So perhaps not climbing high mountains, but side trips which take in good views and are not pushing towards the altitude sickness point. I feel very embarrassed and humiliated by being so useless at altitude. I've done lifesaving medallions, cross-country running, hockey, etc, travelled many places in the world, and think of myself as quite tough - so it feels like my body betraying me all of a sudden when I head on up a decent mountain. And that I'm probably on the 2nd centile on the very beginning of the bell curve of altitude sickness threshold. In Imlil in Morocco, other hotel guests didn't believe it was possible at that height. The staff were like yes, yes, a few for every hundred guests. Ugh!
So sorry after that side-track explanation, back to Overland Track advice for 5.5 days?
Thu 26 Jul, 2018 9:26 pm
This may work for you if you are catching the fairy
Day 1 Ronnie Creek to Windermere (should be a go if you are starting early)
Day 2 Windermere to New Pelion
Day 3 New Pelion to Kia Ora
Day 4 Kia Ora to Windy Ridge (with the waterfalls)
Day 5 Windy Ridge to Narcissist (you start early you will make the fairy or you could get one the next day)
Thu 26 Jul, 2018 9:31 pm
It can be done without too many side trips. Are you intending to finish at Narcissus or Cynthia Bay? Ronny Creek to Narcissus is 65 kilometres without side trips, and walking to Cynthia Bay makes it 82 kilometres. Ending at Narcissus is viable, 12 kilometres average a day. Ending the walk at Cynthia Bay is about 15 kilometres a day.
If you get going early enough then you should be able to reach Windemere that day. After Waterfall Valley it's flat; see how you go climbing to Kitchen Hut. How do you feel about Windemere on the first night?
Travel insurance is a good idea.
Thu 26 Jul, 2018 9:38 pm
5.5 days is just a standard itinerary, staying in each hut, and allowing side trips to Ossa and the waterfalls.
Day 1 - Waterfall Valley
Day 2 - Windemere
Day 3 - Pelion
Day 4 - Kia Ora
Day 5 - Windy Ridge
From there it's an easy 2-3 hour boarded downhill walk to Narcissus and the ferry, which you would need to book in advance then confirm using the radio telephone in the hut.
Last edited by RonK
on Thu 26 Jul, 2018 9:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Thu 26 Jul, 2018 9:40 pm
Unless you are planning to sleep on Ossa than I wouldn’t think you’d have any problems...
Thu 26 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm
Fabulous - and side-track wise? Do people have recommendations on which side-tracks to incorporate. Sounding like Waterfalls day, but of the various other options on other days - are there any particular recommendations? If I was going to do say one of the mountain hikes? (Weather-dependent with a degree of flexibility, obviously.)
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 6:27 am
Emma, please advise if your are you intending to end the walk at Narcissus or Cynthia Bay. If you camp at Echo Point on the last night then the 2.30pm transfer is very possible. I'm uncertain if the boat will need to be booked.
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 8:31 am
emma_melbourne wrote:Fabulous - and side-track wise? Do people have recommendations on which side-tracks to incorporate. Sounding like Waterfalls day, but of the various other options on other days - are there any particular recommendations? If I was going to do say one of the mountain hikes? (Weather-dependent with a degree of flexibility, obviously.)
I like Ant71's version. Plan to get to Windermere on the first day, but if you are totally exhausted at Waterfall Hut then take a break there.
Due to your altitude issues, you should avoid climbing Cradle Mt or Mt Ossa, unless you find someone prepared to help you down if you don't feel well.
The waterfalls between Kia Ora and Windy ridge are your best side trip.
If you don't have delays due to weather then this should leave you one day to spare to go in to Pine Valley and spend the night there.
Then Pine Valley to Narcissus can be done in time for the midday ferry.
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 9:08 am
My vote is for RonK's itinerary - that first day can be pretty difficult and the pack is at its heaviest, so aim for Waterfall valley and hang with the wombats there. Lake Will is a nice side trip for day 2 then. I'd probably have a crack at Ossa if the weather is good and you have company around. The 2 waterfalls are worth the side trips and fit the time frame.
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 9:28 am
If you're not confident on your fitness Windemere will be a stretch day 1. It's the hardest day on the track with the heaviest pack. Plan for Waterfall Valley.
There's a waterfall near Lake Will to give you a side trip on day 2 to Windemere.
Day 3 to Pelion.
Day 4 to Kia Ora, sidetrip to the high slopes of Pelion East or Mt Ossa, they give commanding views without needing to get to the top. Waterfall side trip.
Day 5 to Windy Ridge taking in another waterfall before starting out.
Day 6 to Narcissus and jump on the 1pm ferry. Book your place before the walk and check in at the hut, you'll make your 2:30 pickup easy.
Be flexible. If you feel good when you arrive at Waterfall continue on. I'm sure you'll want a rest
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 10:13 am
Plenty of perspectives.
There's a waterfall near Lake Will to give you a side trip on day 2 to Windemere.
Hey SBS, do you mean Innes Falls? Last time I was there we decided against the scrub bash it now appears to be - but there was a lot of ice, and I wasn't well, so maybe it's fine.
- Emma, I'd highly recommend Mt Oakleigh as your main mountain side trip. Out of 200+ mountains I've been up in Tassie, Oakleigh remains one of my favourites. And at 1286m, it's significantly lower than the other contenders for you. It's gorgeous looking down on the spires, with little rock gardens nestled among them. If you have views, there's a wonderful perspective on the area, with a number of horizontal layers - Pine Forest Moor, Pelion Plains, Forth Valley etc. And all the mountains of course. I haven't made use of the spiffy boardwalk yet, but I suspect it would help you avoid the worst of the mud.
And 1+ for SBS's suggestion of just going up the slopes of Ossa or Pelion East.
- As you are going light weight, I think Windermere is still a good option for Plan A night 1, unless you want a couple of hours to explore the waterfalls at Waterfall Valley. You can test your fitness closer to the time with a loaded pack and the same sort of elevation gain you'll expect on Day 1.
If you don't mind missing the 'official' start of the track, you could save time on day 1 by starting at Dove Lake and going up via the boatshed and 'rough' track to Marions, which has been upgraded. There are steep bits, but it's shorter and there are plenty of great views, and chains to help pull yourself up little bits. Not hard if you pace yourself. Many locals prefer it.
Re the deadline for transport from Lake St Clair: I know I'm biased, recently having a trip turned on its head when our boat booking was cancelled. In summer, there's much less chance of that. But people do get bumped off their bookings occasionally, and if the weather is too wild, the boat would be cancelled. You should be able to check that when you radio in from Narcissus, or have a reasonably up to date forecast from anyone with Telstra who had been up high enough in the couple of days before.
-Tall mountain-leapers can do Windy Ridge to Narcissus in 2 hours, but PWS suggests 3 - 4 for the 9 kms - as I'm sure you'll know. It's not fast over tree roots in the forest, and those without long legs can find it hard to make up time striding out along the boardwalk with a full pack.
- Pine Valley is lovely forest walk, and if it's clear, the views of spectacular mountains from the helipad are great. But personally, if I didn't have time to go up to the Acropolis or the Labyrinth, I'd probably opt for more time on the main track. I find the forest along the lake rather lovely too, especially if you stop in at the little beaches along the way for a view back. If you camp the last night at Echo Point (see rat warnings on another thread), you'd have more control over when you get back to Cynthia Bay. You'd still need to allow heaps of time, as again, it's not fast walking with tree roots etc in places.
Last edited by Tortoise
on Fri 27 Jul, 2018 10:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Fri 27 Jul, 2018 10:37 am
There's good advice above. One option is to plan for Waterfall Valley the first night. If you have time, the weather is kind and you feel up to it, go to Windemere. Have a flexible itinerary. A boat cancellation or not being able to board could ruin your day. If this is likely to happen - others can comment on this point - then Echo Point for the last night appeals. Windy Ridge to Narcissus is a few hours mostly downhill and flat for lunch, and then another few hours to Echo Point, flat, lovely forest. This puts you a short morning's walk from the bus.
Sat 28 Jul, 2018 9:37 am
Thanks so much everyone for your advice!!
So I take on board the suggestion regards Day 1 - that it's actually the toughest and with the heaviest weight pack with all the food, to see how I go and whether I want to stop at Waterfall Valley, or to push on to Windemere, which would put me further ahead. (So aiming to get to Windemere on Day 1.)
Regards the question as to whether I was intending to end the walk at Narcissus or Cynthia Bay - I had no fixed view. The purist in me would kind of like to walk the whole thing, but it seems that a big percentage of hikers that take the ferry and don't think anything less of themselves for doing so. They still regard that they've hiked the Overland Track. I heard there's a cafe / restaurant at the end which sounds a great plan for lunch and while awaiting the 2.30 pick-up on the final day.
I am going at a peak time of year, so I think the ferry will be running for me to book and confirm, if I want to do so. The price isn't really a factor for me.
I'm also very taken by the suggestion of Mt Oakleigh as a side track mountain I go for. I'm locking that plan in, obviously weather-contingent. Strangely, it wasn't in my Overland Track guide as one of the side tracks. In addition to hiking to one or more of the waterfall side trips.
Out of the different waterfalls tracks, which if you have to choose between them due to time constraints?
Sat 28 Jul, 2018 11:09 am
Emma, some mind games. Aim for Waterfall Valley for day one. Then if you have to camp there it's okay, goal reached. If you can get to Windemere it's a bonus. The alternaive is that you may aim for Windemere on day one and not reach it, bummer. After climbing to the plateau a few hours after starting it's a lot easier, albeit with some slow rocky sections. A walking pole will assist. After Waterfall Valley it's flat, lots of boardwalks.
The OLT ends at Cynthia Bay - there's a sign to that effect. The reason I suggest Echo Point on the last night is that you don't need to rely on a boat that will probably run and probably have room. If the boat is late, full or not running you may miss your bus. See what others say in this thread and how your itinerary looks.
I'd have a list of waterfalls and peaks that could be visited, and select the ones that fit with circumstances. The cafe is nice.
Sat 28 Jul, 2018 12:24 pm
And the other thing I'm *thinking* about doing is perhaps pitching my tent at Frog Flats instead of at Pelion Hut. (Again dependent on the weather.)
Some people on here might have a view on whether this is a silly idea for the time of year - end of December - or likely to be fine.
I think it's affected by flooding, so obviously I'd need to be conscious of the river level and not a good idea if high rainfall expected.
Sat 28 Jul, 2018 3:23 pm
According to my husband (Who used to be a guide on the OLT) If you have 5.5 days, do what everyone else does which is
1st Night at Waterfall
2nd Night at Windermere
3rd Night at New Pelion
4th Night at Kia Ora
5th Night at Windy Ridge also known as Bert Nichols Hut
Walk out to ferry. If you leave by 8am, you will make the lunchtime ferry easily.
It stays light until very late in December, so you should have plenty of daylight.
Why are you thinking of camping at Frogs Flats? There will be millions of mosquitoes at that time of year.
Sat 28 Jul, 2018 6:25 pm
With regard to whether to take the ferry or not, I have gone both ways.
The walk along the lake has surprisingly few good views of the lake. It is a nice enough walk, but I found it rather tedious. After you enter the forest there is a remarkable lot of up and down for what should be a flat walk. I may be biased against this walk because I was a bit tired and trying to hurry when I did it. The section after Echo Point is fairly easy so you will have no trouble finishing by midday if you camp there.
The ferry gives you some amazing views of the mountains north of the lake and to each side, better than any you get on the main track, though possibly not better than views from the Pine Valley area.
Wed 01 Aug, 2018 6:56 pm
I wouldn't bother with Innes Falls. The track is not even marked on some maps now. You can't get a good view of it, the track is like a bog even mid January and there were Tiger snakes everywhere that you can't see until you almost step on them. It's the one thing I won't be doing when I go back.
Fri 03 Aug, 2018 4:15 pm
I'm going in early December myself and my plan is to spend the 2nd night somewhere between Pine forest Moor and Pelion Creek (I'm aware that camping at Pelion Creek is prohibited). That's due to the standard day 2 being easy, allowing me time to climb Mt Oakleigh on the 3rd day. Mount Oakleigh is not as high as the other mountains and allows you to maintain your 5.5 day itinerary
Fri 03 Aug, 2018 6:24 pm
Mt Oakleigh gives great views, it's lower than other popular peaks and much easier now with the improved track. The only caution would be to not expect to see others (as a solo walker).
I think the shorter second day is actually well-placed in the doing. It seems fairly common to feel a bit sore and flat that day, and there's a bigger one coming from Windermere to Pelion. There are other points of interest most days than the well documented (ie. other than Innes Falls that day).
Fri 03 Aug, 2018 9:26 pm
Mt Oakleigh would be a good choice. But you don’t have to rule out Mt Ossa. It’s the highest mountain in Tasmania and a very satisfying summit to reach with great views. Firstly, I doubt you’ll have trouble with altitude on a day trip there (i.e. not camping on top) since (1) you’ll be acclimatised having spent several nights above 1000m, and (2) going up and descending the same day really does minimise the likelihood that altitude will affect you - problems mostly come from sleeping at altitude. Secondly, try taking some Diamox as a precaution. It’s the wonder drug for high altitude climbers and will definitely allow you to climb higher. You’ll need a script from a GP. For more information on Diamox, seehttp://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm
If you decide to go up Mt Oakleigh and skip Mt Ossa, at least do a mini side trip and go as far as the flanks of Mt Doris - at the time of year you are going, the scoparia should be in full bloom and will look spectacular.
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