Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

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Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 2:58 pm

Earlier this year when my not-really-a-bushwalker wife ('Daughter-in-law of a Beach' - or Mrs Beach) suggested walking the Overland Track in winter as part of her training for the "Burnie 10" (10km road run), I jumped on the opportunity and immediately compared diaries, and booked it into the only available winter week in our combined calendars to make sure she couldn't change her mind and that it would go ahead. We decided to include the lakeside walk rather than catch the ferry, and being a slow walking team, and unused to deep snow, allowed 7 days.

The trip finally happened last week from the 26th of August to the 1st of September, 2010, and turned out to coincide with Tasmania's best snowfalls for about 6 years (according to the Ben Lomond ski reports). We carried snow shoes and used them on 5 of the 7 days. Our itinerary in brief was as follows:

  • Day 1 - Cynthia Bay to Echo Point Hut (after morning meetings and a 3pm start).
  • Day 2 - Echo Point to Windy Ridge Hut (Bert Nichols Hut).
  • Day 3 - Windy Ridge to Kiaora Hut.
  • Day 4 - Kiaora to Frog Flats (in tent).
  • Day 5 - Frog Flats to Windermere Hut.
  • Day 6 - Windermere to Waterfall Valley Hut.
  • Day 7 - Waterfall Valley to Ronnie Creek.

We met people on the track on every day except for day 1 and day 6, but we only shared a hut or campsite once, at Windermere on night 5.

This walk ended up being much more difficult than usual due to lots of deep soft snow, but the scenery was even more impressive than usual due to lots of deep soft snow.

(continued in the next few posts...)

Nik's Snow Shoes.jpg
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 2:59 pm

Day 1 - Cynthia Bay to Echo Point

After morning meetings, and ignoring the weather forecasters' "bushwalkers alerts", we met up with the 'Whiskeylovers' who had very kindly agreed to drop us off and pick us up at the end. They also decided to walk in to Echo Point with us for the first night. There was a considerable amount of snow on the road driving to Lake St Clair and I was surprised at how fast the snow plough up there travels when it came flying around the corner towards us spraying sow in the air. As a bonus, we watched a pair of wedge tailed eagles flying quite close to the road during the drive over the plateau.

While getting our packs on at the Cynthia Bay visitors centre, it began to snow again, drifting into the corridor where we'd just filled in the log book. This was a sign of things to come.

We began walking from Cynthia Bay at about 3:00pm and it continued to snow on and off during the afternoon and evening. After a walking for a while, the two 'Whiskylovers' went ahead while Mrs Beach and I continued on at our own more moderate pace. Eventually the light began to fade and we had to start using head torches to see where we were going for the last half an hour. Eventually, Mrs Beach's torchlight fell on a sign next to the track that simply said "Toilet", and we knew we'd reached the hut in the complete darkness at about 6:30pm. What I didn't realise until the next day was that we'd already passed the actual Echo Point Hut sign a few metres earlier and had very nearly gone straight past the hut in the darkness with our heads down trying to avoid tripping on the root covered track.

The thermometer in the hut said that it was 2°C inside when we arrived, and 1°C outside.

Dinner was fresh vegetable stir fry with rice, accompanied by some white wine which the Whiskeylovers kindly shared with us.
Supper was Lindt chocolates.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:00 pm

Day 2 - Echo Point to Windy Ridge

During the night a good 5 or 10 cm of fresh snow had fallen, and during the morning it continued to snow quite heavily at times. This was truly beautiful, and for Mrs Beach, it was both exciting and intimidating, being the first time she had done any walking in heavy snow, either in the air or on the ground.

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Early Morning Snow Falling at Echo Point
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Echo Point Jetty
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We started the cold morning with some hot porridge cooked properly with real rolled oats, salt & butter. We then set out on the track for our first full day of walking after saying our farewells to the Whiskeylovers and confirming arrangements for pick up - 2pm on Wednesday at Ronnie Creek, which should give us plenty of time to do the 4 hour walk from Waterfall Valley that day.

There was quite a lot of fresh snow on the track and in the trees which was very pretty, and snow continued to fall occasionally. On the approach to Narcissus where the track skirts around the swampy flood plain there was a slight breeze which chilled us to the bone so that by the time we got into Narcissus hut for lunch were were very cold indeed. So we rugged up as much as we could and got stuck into our Banjo's Bakery pide lunches - chicken, mustard and salad for me, and chicken avocado for the missus.

By the time we'd finished lunch we were bitterly cold despite wearing nearly everything we'd carried and being inside a hut. We had a brief but serious discussion about whether we should continue on or not, knowing that we'd just walked merely the easiest part of the entire track and were already feeling rather tired and very cold. Neither of us was willing to be the one to call off the trip at this point, so we donned the packs and headed out into the winter again.

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Crossing the Narcissus River
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Taking a Break
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The Bowling Green
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For the rest of the afternoon and most of the next day, we battled with fresh snow on the track and small trees bent over criss-crossing each other across the track as they were weighed down by the fresh snowfall. In some cases, a karate-chop would dislodge enough snow for the trees to spring upright again out of our way, rather like a gate opening, but in most cases we had to scrape, push and battle our way through this tangle of snow-laden vegetation. The snow was getting a little deeper in places but was quite soft and not quite deep or hard enough to use the snow shoes yet.

We eventually arrived at the newish monstrosity of a 'hut' at Windy Ridge, called Bert Nichols Hut. We were rather wet at this point, and got cold again rather quickly after stopping. Our wet weather gear was good, but the snow that gets caught up in the bottom of the trousers, and in the cuffs of the sleeves melts onto the wrists and ankles, and then wicks up the inside of whatever we were wearing. So we were wet up to the knees and elbows at least, and then damp from sweat all over.

It was a relief earlier in the day when we met a group of 10 walkers who's assured us that there was still plenty of firewood for the wood heater in the hut. I had carried in a small supply of fire lighters for this hut and the next one just to make sure I could get the heaters going quickly even without having a good supply of kindling. So soon after bringing up a few armfuls of logs from under the hut, we had a roaring log fire going. There's no way that fire is capable of heating that enormous room in such a poorly designed bushwalkers hut, but it sure was nice having it to ourselves as we sat right in front of it all evening.

We set up our beds in front of the log fire to sleep for the night.

Dinner was home dried pasta with a home made pasta sauce. It wasn't quite right, but I know what I did wrong and I think it will be a great meal next time I do it.
Supper was port and Lindt chocolate.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:00 pm

Day 3 - Windy Ridge to Kiaora

Home dried bircher muesli for breakfast (thanks for this idea Frank!)... mmm... good... but don't overdo the water next time, and don't forget to add the home dried strawberries carried all this way!

It had snowed heavily again all night and there was now an even deeper layer of fresh snow on everything. But the cloud appeared to be thinning out and it looked like it was going to be a nice day with some indistinct glimpses of the DuCane Range through the cloud to the west. Before leaving the architectural marvel that is Bert Nichols Hut, Mrs Beach decided that she'd better try out the snow shoes in a controlled environment rather than trying to figure it out with cold fingers on rough terrain. So she spent a few minutes parading around the square flat patch of snow in the plain behind the hut which covered the helicopter pad. Satisfied with how to attach, remove and use the snow shoes, we strapped them back onto the pack and set out.

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Testing the Snow Shoes on the Windy Ridge Helipad
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As we gained altitude through the rain forest up Windy Ridge towards DuCane Gap, the snow got deeper, and the forest was breathtakingly beautiful, as were the glimpses of the DuCane Range through the trees. Eventually the snow became deep enough that we thought we'd better try the snow shoes out for real, and we found the going a little easier for a while. It was touch and go though, with the shoes often getting tangled in vegetation or duck board, or simply sinking too deep into the soft snow.

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Snow Covered Pandanii
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Walking Through the Rainforest on the Way Up Windy Ridge
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First Real Use of the Snow Shoes for the Trip Approaching DuCane Gap
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We had lunch at DuCane hut (Paddy Hartnett's Hut), and again got ridiculously cold while doing so (the sun had been out for a while, but disappeared at lunch time, so we opted for inside). We pushed on as soon as we could after lunch, arriving at Kiaora Hut mid afternoon.

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DuCane Hut (Paddy Harnett's Hut)
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For much of the day, we'd been hearing the distant buzz of helicopters coming and going, and were wondering if they were searching for a lost bushwalker. The closer to Kiaora we got, the louder they became, until we saw one descend into the forest just ahead of us, a few minutes before we got to Kiaora. After removing our packs, the chopper took off again, then lowered into the forest a little further on, and then rose up again, circled around towards us and then landed on the snow-covered helipad right behind Kiaora Hut. After waiting for the rotors to stop, and for the pilot to disembark, I asked him if he was looking for anyone, but he said that he and a second helicopter were just re-supplying the private hut nearby. The other chopper was on the helipad there, so he was just going to wait here until the other chopper left and he could get on with the job at the private hut. So we had a good chat with him until he had to move on, and waved him off as he set off for the short trip of a couple of hundred metres to the private hut nearby.

I then fired up the coal heater using what remained of my firelighters, and got the hut reasonably warm for the evening. In fact it eventually got so warm that I had to strip down to just my thermals, and then down to just undies for a while. The thermometer on the wall (quite close to the heater) said 20°C. I hope I didn't waste too much coal.

Dinner was cous-cous with home dried veges, stock and tuna. Delicous.
Supper was a port night cap.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:00 pm

Day 4 - Kiaora to Frog Flats

Before leaving home, the weather forecast for day 4 was for fine sunny weather, and for day 5, it was "heavy rain". Not wanting to do the longest day of the walk in heavy rain, and getting some idea of how much longer it might be while wading through deep snow in heavy rain, we made the decision to make our fine weather fourth day longer than originally planned in order to make the next day of expected bad weather shorter. Even if it meant pitching and packing a tent in the rain.

So we set off somewhat earlier than on the preceding days, aiming to have Lunch at Pelion Hut instead of staying there overnight as originally planned.

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Mt Pelion East from Kiaora
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It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky as we left Kiaora, and only patchy cloud for most of the day. And what brilliant views we had all day. Snow covered ground and snow covered mountains everywhere we looked.

We used the snow shoes for a few hours up and over Pelion Gap, but it was still exceptionally slow going with the snow being very deep in places, and the snow shoes still sinking in up to waist deep frustratingly often (but still a LOT better than it had been before we put them on). The snow shoes also gave us the freedom to walk side by side for a while, and not worry too much about sticking to the track, and just making our own way to 'the gap'.

Early in the day we could hear the helicopters doing their run between the Arm River road and the next of the private huts at Windy Ridge, as the pilot had yesterday told us he would be doing. About three quarters of the way up to Pelion Gap, we could hear a helicopter coming up behind us and turning around we watched our mate from yesterday flying low up the track behind us a little off to the side, and then nearly right over us with a wave.

Mrs Beach, falling waist deep in snow again, suggested that we should have asked him to drop us off at Pelion Hut the day before.

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Panorama: Approaching Pelion Gap - Mt Ossa, Mt Doris & Pelion East (click to view full size)


We had our morning tea at Pelion Gap while taking in the astounding views of Pelion East, Ossa, Cradle, Barn, and various other mountains near and far in all directions. It was a beautiful sunny day, with everything covered in snow, and not a breath of wind it was just magic!

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Taking a Break at Pelion Gap (it's hard to run in snow shoes when the camera timer is on)
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But we had to press on, and eventually got to Pelion Hut where we had a relaxed lunch of hot noodles on the verandah. We then continued on for another two hours to Frog Flats, with much less snow on that part of the track, but still patches here and there.

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Mt Oakleigh from Pelion Hut
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We pitched our tent on a thin cover of snow at Frog Flats after a 7.5 hour walk from Kiaora, with the weather still holding out.

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Frog Flats Camp Site
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Dinner was absolutely delicious - Pasta, with pesto, home dried veges, pine nuts and chopped salami. I'm definitely doing this one again!
Supper was port and home made choc-chip biscuits.

A lone walker passed by while we were having dinner, and it was just starting to get dark. He was aiming for Pelion Hut that night. It was going to be dark in about 30 minutes, and he had about a 2 hour walk to get there. I hope he made it OK.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:01 pm

Day 5 - Frog Flats to Windermere

Well this was the day that had been forecast for heavy rain, but we managed to get the tent packed away before any rain came. In fact the heavy rain did not come all day, and there was just some light drizzle occasionally, but nothing of any significance.

I had always swore I would never camp at Frog Flats due to the abundance of both leeches and mosquitos for which it is renowned. A great place to stop for a break or even for lunch, but never camp there. However, we figured there'd be no mozzies in the winter cold, and the leech activity would be much reduced under the weight of snow. And we were right, we saw no mozzies at all, and only one leech on the outside of a shoe the entire time we were there. It was a great camp site and we really enjoyed our stay there. Great views of the mountains around us above the tree tops again.

This was expected to be a long tiring day to Windermere and we were not disappointed. The snow was again quite deep after we'd gained some altitude ascending out of Frog Flats. However the snow as getting quite slushy and again we were frustrated by the snow shoes over Pine Forest Moor and the other snow-laden areas. They were definitely better than boots alone, but were still sinking deep sometimes.

The clouds were getting darker, and there was a gentle but freezing cold breeze from the west, but the rain was only minimal. The Fourth Valley Lookout was completely sheltered from the wind and we enjoyed a relaxed lunch taking in the views from there.

Late in the afternoon, the highlight of the day was when I spotted a nice looking snow drift in the distance, and then realised that the track passed close by both the bottom and the top of the snow drift. Unable to let such an opportunity pass us by, I insisted on doing a few goretex toboggan runs down the snow drift, some of which we captured on video. Great fun for those of us who are still little kids at heart.

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It took us 7.5 hours to reach Windermere where a young German bloke already had the heater going and the hut was pleasantly warm, but smelling somewhat of shellite or petrol from his chooffer. He was not terribly well equipped (jeans!) and carrying a months worth of food and was somewhat discouraged by the very difficult snow walking he'd had over the last two days. He warned us that it took him 9 hours to get from Ronnie Creek to Waterfall Valley and 5 hours from Waterfall Valley to Windermere.

Dinner was home made from scratch chicken curry, home dehydrated with rice - this was absolutely brilliant and completely restored my faith in my abilities to dehydrate top quality meals for bushwalking. Thanks to Frank and "Food to Go" for the tips and confidence building.

Supper was Port, turkish delight and cherry ripe chocolate.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:01 pm

Day 6 - Windermere to Waterfall Valley

The next morning the weather had finally started to close in properly with some significant wind, and rain starting to get a little heavier. The German chap had decided to stay at Windermere for another night and have a rest day. He had a month's worth of food, so why not?

We headed out into the deteriorating weather for another slushy snow slog to Waterfall Valley. This is usually a 1.5 to 3 hour leg of the trip, but the German bloke was right - in the current snow conditions, even with snow shoes, it took us a full 5 hours. This leg of the walk was not terribly memorable except for the sleet stinging into our faces as it was blown by increasingly strong wind, by my reliably bad memory of "just over that spur of Barn Bluff, then across the flat" (when it was actually over the next spur).

Part way across the last flat section leading to Waterfall Valley hut, we disturbed a wombat on the track which then headed off along the track in front of us. After following it along for about a hundred metres or so, we eventually realised we were no longer on the track at all. So we then corrected our position and followed the actual track to the last small ascent of to the hut turn off.

These last few metres were the most frustrating of the day. After picking up a pair of home made dodgy-looking snow shoes I'd found discarded by the side of the track, I sunk deeper and deeper into the snow as we came across the most difficult section so far where it is normally very simple walking. I finally caught up to my wife in my number of dummy-spits and hissy-fits for the day, as I sunk in deeper with every step and then resorted to crawling to the turn off, only to find that then my arms also sank in as far as my shoulders. With both legs and both arms in the snow as deep as they could go and having face planted the snow in that position, and trying to carry somebody else's discarded snow shoe rubbish, I spat it and cursed and winged like 3 year old tantrum (and I know about 3 year old tantrums this year).

After recovering my composure, we waded, slipped and skidded the last few metres to the hut and settled in for a late lunch and to await the arrival of our friend Kim who'd promised to meet us there later that day after walking in from Dove Lake, and who'd promised to bring us some fresh steak for dinner.

Kim is a very fit and very fast walker, however, she's only just started bushwalking this year, and was very inexperienced, particularly when it comes to snow and bad weather. I had warned her of the possibility of deep snow and bad weather and that people died up there in bad conditions and therefore she should not attempt the walk if the weather was bad, but she was determined to come no matter what. So with the weather now being near blizzard conditions, it was a bit of an anxious wait for us, not knowing for sure if she would turn up or not, and if she didn't turn up would it be because she cancelled, or because she was stuck out in the bad weather or lost in the snow?

The weather had been getting worse all day, and the rain was getting progressively heavier still as the afternoon wore on, but Kim did arrive late in the afternoon very wet and very tired after a solo deep-snow slog with no snow shoes. A very valiant effort, if not entirely a good idea.

And she had brought not only the promised fresh steak for our dinner (meaning we didn't have to eat home dried dahl), but she'd also brought fresh lettuce, bread rolls and a variety of other ingredients to make comprehensive steak burgers which were delicious.

But it got even better still - she'd also brought large pieces of freshly made berry brownies and a large portion of double cream.

What a luxuriously extravagant meal and dessert for the sixth night of a hard snow-wading bushwalk!
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 3:01 pm

Day 7 - Waterfall Valley to Ronny Creek
We had arranged for a 2:00pm pick up at Ronnie Creek with the 'Whiskeylovers' but we knew that the deepest snow was yet to come, and the German bloke at Windermere said he'd taken 9 hours to do this section of the walk 2 days earlier. So we set an alarm for 5:00am to give us time to cook our pancakes and get going as soon as possible after it was light.

Well the pancakes were a complete flop due to the new thin-metal titanium pan I was using. They burnt in the middle before cooking around the edges, as I'd been warned by other bushwalkers would happen with such a pan (unlike my good solid Trangia fry pan). So I ended up having two scrambled pancakes before giving up and filling up on dry ryvita biscuits and other odd bits and pieces of food. We ended up leaving Waterfall Valley at 7:10am, hoping we'd get to Ronnie Creek before 3:00pm.

Sure enough, the snow on the first few hours walking was deeper and slushier even than before. There had been 45 millimetres of rain overnight at Cradle Mountain and it had blown a gale all night, but had settled down somewhat by the time we left. Kim said that the rain had washed out about 2 feet of the depth of the snow from the day before.

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Snow Drift Dropping off the Edge of Cradle Cirque
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With our snow shoes on, we nearly kept up with Kim's quick walking pace, even though she had no snow shoes. Although walking is hardly the word. Nearly every step was between knee and waist deep in snow for Kim, and for us snow-shoers it was about 1 in 10 or 20 steps went down deep.

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Kim and Mrs Beach taking a Break While Walking Around Cradle Mtn with Barn Bluff in the Background
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However, after rounding the corner at the north west of Cradle Mountain, the snow became more solid and better for the snow shoes at which point we were able to finally walk with confidence with the snow shoes, which was to last well all the way to Marions Lookout.

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Walking Past a Nearly Covered Track Marker
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Kitchen Hut's lower level was almost completely under snow, with a small snow ramp having been built up to the reach to top level door. I was like a little kid being very excited to be able to actually use the top door at Kitchen Hut for my first time ever. We enjoyed a relaxed lunch there before continuing on across the plateau.

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Kitchen Hut
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The snow ended abruptly just before Marions Lookout. It was moderately deep on one side of a clear line, and none at all on the other side of the line. Below Marions Lookout we still had the occasional drift of snow all the way to Ronnie Creek, but not terribly deep, and it became more and more patchy the lower the altitude. On the way down from Marions Lookout to Crater Lake, Mrs Beach enjoyed bum-sliding through any remaining snow drifts on this steep section of track, considering this easier and quicker than battling through these snow drifts on foot.

We parted ways with Kim at the Dove Lake turn off as she'd left her car there, and we met up with the Whiskey Lovers at Ronnie Creek at 2:15pm just after they'd returned from Crater Peak - only 15 minutes late, and 2 hours better than what we'd anticipated might be the case. 7 hours for the day from Waterfall Valley.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby walkinTas » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 6:21 pm

That's a very comprehensive report Nik. Well done, and well done Mrs. Beach. Now you can start planning for next year's 7 day odyssey. :)
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Tony » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 7:09 pm

Hi SOAB,

Thanks for a excellent trip report, I really enjoyed reading it.

When I did the OT in October 2004 we also where buzzed for three days by choppers servicing the private huts, I actually found it annoying after a while.

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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 04 Sep, 2010 9:30 pm

Thanks Tony. Yes, my initial concern was that somebody was missing or in trouble. But later I was relieved that they were servicing the huts along the track in the opposite direction to what we were walking. Otherwise we might have had to put up with it for several days. Certainly not the kind of atmosphere I'm after when walking.

PS. Thankfully, PWS have substantial restrictions on aircraft servicing the track and facilities (so I'm led to believe) so this sort of thing should happen only very occasionally, in theory.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Bodysurfer » Sun 05 Sep, 2010 11:22 am

Great report! Thanks for that. Brought back a few memories.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby stepbystep » Sun 05 Sep, 2010 4:36 pm

Great stuff Nik, thanks for sharing - love the pano!
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby crockle » Sun 05 Sep, 2010 8:40 pm

That's a great write-up - makes me want to go - at once!
The Pelion East & Pelion panorama shots must have seen you with huge smiles on your faces! Beautiful.
Out of interest, how would you deal with the 'cold problem' from early on in the trip - for future trips ?
Different gear / just more gear / garbage bags :cry: - etc etc .. ?
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Sun 05 Sep, 2010 9:58 pm

I think the only other thing we could have done was to dig deeper into our packs to add more clothes or to use sleeping bags. I was ok while walking, so as long as the stops were not too long it wasn't a big deal.

I don't own any down clothing so a nice down jacket might be in order before my next winter trip.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Phil » Mon 06 Sep, 2010 10:46 am

Fantastic report Nik, thanks for taking the time to share about your adventures and for your wonderfule pics!
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby ollster » Mon 06 Sep, 2010 11:41 am

Nice. I've never seen Kitchen Hut with that much snow! Actually, I've never seen more than thigh-high snow in all the trips I've done on/around the OLT.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby north-north-west » Mon 06 Sep, 2010 7:09 pm

I am going to have to organise a winter trip down there soon. I've done the ends of the OT in heavy snow, but never the rest of it.

Thanks for the report. And the photos. And whetting the appetite for a trip like that for myself . . .
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby crockle » Mon 06 Sep, 2010 8:08 pm

the snow I've seen on the OT was *well* below the knee (ahem, possibly ankle to shin area..)

Re: The Cold When Stopped: - I've found myself in similar situations a few times over the last 12 months - where you're working/walking and keeping body temperature up more or less. But when you stop, the cold-to-the-bone feeling starts to set in. So you keep going to stay warm. Obviously kind of dangerous if you're exhausted though.
In extremis, it's time to pitch the tent and into the sleeping bag I guess.
But I'm sure the two of you would have prepared really carefully for this trip in the snow - hence my interest.
For me, I think I probably need more, or better kinds of, gear.
Great photos, and the first positive response I've heard of camping at Frog Flats :o

It really *does* whet the appetite!
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby kiwitramping » Tue 07 Sep, 2010 1:52 pm

Hi Nik

I remember meeting up with you two on the morning after you had left frog flats, i was heading the other way (with two American guys behind me). yes that guy you saw the previous night near dark did make it out fine; though the other guy i asked you about was later the subject of a SAR callout (but was also fine and made it out the same day as me). A very snowy trip though it definitely got better as the time went on. Coming over from Ronny Creek to Waterfall on the 27th and 28th without snow shoes was incredibly difficult, had to overnight at kitchen hut. Then 7 hours from there to waterfall the next day.... So much for the Overland being easy! Glad you guys made it to the end ok. Like you i had plenty of food and ending up donating some to my American track companions.

All of the huts with gas heaters had operational gas, and also there is plenty of coal at Echo Point.

cheers
Amanda

had to dig kitchen hut out on arrival. very handy spade.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Wed 08 Sep, 2010 3:39 pm

Hi Amanda - thanks for posting. That'a a FANTASTIC photo of Kitchen Hut. Way better than mine - I'm very jealous. For a few days there I thought mine was the best I'd seen. :-)

So that was you we met near Pelion Creek? Cool! I'm glad you found us here too.

What was the story with the search and rescue for that bloke? Somebody did mention that an SAR had begun, but I never heard anything else about it. We were a little concerned that you'd mentioned somebody on the track that we weren't sure if we'd seen or not.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Phil » Wed 08 Sep, 2010 4:42 pm

That is one extraordinary photo of kitchen hut :o
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby cixelsyd » Wed 08 Sep, 2010 6:46 pm

hey Nik (SOAB)
Great pics and a fantastic trip report. I found your food reports to be the most interesting. I'm curious about the snow shoes pictured in your Kitchener's Hut photo....Did you find one set was better than the other. I've used the plastic yowies before and they really hurt my feet so I'm curious about the aluminium ones.

cixelsyd

Any opinions on how deep the snow will be in the first week of October? I'm doing the OT with some friends.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby farkewie » Wed 08 Sep, 2010 7:17 pm

cixelsyd wrote:Any opinions on how deep the snow will be in the first week of October? I'm doing the OT with some friends.



I was just thinking the same thing, My walk starts on the 6th... :-) looks exciting!
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby whiskeylover » Thu 09 Sep, 2010 7:40 am

Yes, I'm glad we cancelled our trip as starting that day it would have been a bit of a slog for the first three or so days through all that snow. It's fine if you can stay on top of it with the snow shoes, but when it gets slushy underneath you fall through anyway and then the snow shoes are more of a hindrance. Good thing you started from the Lake St Clair end. On the subject of getting cold, other than appropriate layering of clothing there are a few ways to help stay warmer, which I have touched on before in another thread, but for the sake of someone who might read this and get a better understanding I'll repeat it.
- insulate from the ground (sit on something, pack, pad, coat, anything)
- wind chill factor, stay sheltered when stopping.
- food = energy = stay warm (have readily available sweet foods and carbs too e.g. scroggin)
- stay well hydrated (dehydration makes you more susceptible to hypothermia)
Always change into dry camp clothes at camp and never let them get wet. Even if you think your walking thermals are dry they will be a little damp with sweat - you'll be amazed the difference it makes). If you are toasty warm in your sleeping bag overnight you can put slightly damp clothes in with you and they will dry out, but don't do this until you are warm.
Exercise may help you warm up to a point but never use exercise as a way to warm up if you are not able to replace the energy you are using. i.e. food and lots of it is the answer. Once you have had some immediate energy, so your hands now work and you have some motivation back, you could then make a warm drink, to help warm up your core, but never use alcohol or caffeinated drinks for this purpose as they trick your brain into thinking you are warm (i.e. they interfere with your temperature regulating mechanism). Soup, milo, hot chocolate etc.
Glad you had good trip Nik and stayed safe. The guy who walked out after SAR had been looking, was just reported overdue by his accommodation in Hobart, and due to the conditions it was expected he had just been delayed by the snow. Must have cost him a packet to fly home though because I think he ended up overdue enough to miss his flight.
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Nick S » Thu 09 Sep, 2010 8:27 am

Great report Nik. I've walked the OT twice in winter but never with as much snow as that! the kitchen hut photo is awesome. So would skis have been more helpful in the soft snow if you had them? :D
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby kiwitramping » Thu 09 Sep, 2010 8:33 am

Hi Nik
actually i think you might have stayed at windermere with the guy subject of the SAR search - Steve. He had been with us at waterfall the night before and i had just assumed he'd gone on, but he had in fact made a spontaneous decision to camp near some of the lakes, so was a day behind... The chopper found a note from him in the kia ora hut book so they called off the search. He got a slight talking to from the ranger. A happy result in SAR terms, i was worried when i saw the ranger's note at Narcissus and had to chat to the police about where i had seen him last.
cheers
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 09 Sep, 2010 8:49 am

cixelsyd wrote:hey Nik (SOAB)
Great pics and a fantastic trip report. I found your food reports to be the most interesting. I'm curious about the snow shoes pictured in your Kitchener's Hut photo....Did you find one set was better than the other. I've used the plastic yowies before and they really hurt my feet so I'm curious about the aluminium ones.


I'd really like to know a definitive answer to this myself, and I'm now kicking myself that we didn't try swapping snow shoes for a day or even an hour or so to see what the difference would be.

All I can say is that my long thin Cariboo snow shoes (aluminium frame, plastic platform, hinged at the ball of the foot) performed a LOT better than the Yowies (solid plastic, wide, no flex or hinging). However, I cannot say if this was entirely due to the snow shoes, or due to the difference in the people (difference in weight, walking styles, etc).

My wife with the Yowies had very sore achilles afterwards and is still recovering from this. I believe this is the nature of Yowies, as they place the effective hinge point of your foot several centimetres out in front of the toes, rather than between the toes and the ball of the foot, where the foot usually bends when walking. This puts an enormous strain on the achilles to bend and lift the leg and foot. The rounded front of the Yowies helps a bit, but it is a significant problem when walking with them for several hour each day for several days.

My long thin hinged snow shoes have an exceptionally natural walking action.

The two styles have completely different mechanisms for attaching and removing them, but both are quite easy to do in difficult conditions with cold hands. The Yowies use webbing straps like Teva sandals, the Cariboo you just shove your toes in the front and pull up a strong bungie cord around the heal (with a plastic loop on it that makes it easy to grab and pull even with gloves on).
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Re: Overland Track Snow Walk, August 2010

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 09 Sep, 2010 8:57 am

kiwitramping wrote:Hi Nik
actually i think you might have stayed at windermere with the guy subject of the SAR search - Steve. He had been with us at waterfall the night before and i had just assumed he'd gone on, but he had in fact made a spontaneous decision to camp near some of the lakes, so was a day behind... The chopper found a note from him in the kia ora hut book so they called off the search. He got a slight talking to from the ranger. A happy result in SAR terms, i was worried when i saw the ranger's note at Narcissus and had to chat to the police about where i had seen him last.
cheers
Amanda


Hmmm... not sure, the guy we stayed with at Windermere was "Favian" - a German bloke. I noticed at the next hut (Waterfall Valley) that his log book entry included a lot of information about where he'd been but not his name, nor where he was going.

I reckon "Steve" might have still been camped off the side somewhere when we passed him then. Although... we did pass a middle aged bloke on his own later on, somewhere near Pine Forest Moor, I think. Would that have been him? I think he was carrying red plactic (MSR?) snow shoes (but like us was not wearing them at the time).
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