July hike

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.

July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 5:35 pm

It's on for me early July :D I am most excited.

Some things I am trying to decide on;

Track direction.. most have recommend to walk S-N during winter. I would prefer to start at Cradle but appreciate input.

Ferry - if I do walk the N-S direction, should I assume I will be walking the final km's along Lake St Clair? As the time frame is so dependant upon weather/track conditions, it would be hard to rely upon the ferry being operational the day you need it?

Snow shoes - definite yes or wait until closer to the date and decide based on the forecast? From what I have read, most often they aren't required.. But I can appreciate you're in spot of bother if you need them and don't have them. I'm walking solo and have a strong preference to be over prepared for all conditions.. but weight..

Possums.. I have a Kevlar possum-proof food bag. It came in very handy when I was at Dixon's Kingdom earlier in the year and watched a fat little *&%$#! try chew through it :lol: :lol: Necessary for the Overland?

And a silly one.. I have a huge bag of (opened) dehydrated bananas :lol: Will I get them into Tassie with quarantine, or need to plan to source some over there? And what about sealed packages of dried fruits, nuts, etc?
Last edited by Xastorm on Wed 12 Jun, 2019 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 5:37 pm

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Re: July hike

Postby north-north-west » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 5:52 pm

Some people prefer N-S, some S-N. I prefer S-N because you finish with the more spectacular country. Personal preference this time of year. Starting at Cradle means you can build a little flexibility into your departure date/time if the weather is particularly bad.

Yep, ferry is unreliable in winter so be prepared to have to walk the Lakeside track.

Make the snowshoe decision closer to the day, when you can have a better idea of what the weather will be doing and how much snow there will be on the track. And take microspikes.

Take the possum bag. They get even more desperate than usual in the winter.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 5:58 pm

That's my reasoning behind walking N-S, start with the spectacular country while I'm still enthusiastic! :D But some have suggested due to the majority of the climbing being the Cradle end, it would be easier to do this with a lighter pack. And you possibly have a better handle of what weather you are walking into. No rush to decide.

Re the ferry, I'll plan for the extra day's walk. I'm locked into the date I set off due to flights and the transport I have booked, but no timeframe to complete the hike.

Good point re the starving possums. And microspikes are ready to go.. Half the fun of these hikes is the shopping :lol: And then all the overnighters to test out said purchases.

Thankyou!
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 6:00 pm

I'm new to showshoes, but will be doing a couple of hikes up at the snow here in Vic before I head off.
What sort of depth/predicted snowfall would be a yes, definitely carry them?
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Re: July hike

Postby Tortoise » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 6:12 pm

Oops. Missed some replies, so edited:

My preference is N-S in winter because of the option of delaying a day or two to avoid really nasty weather at the Cradle end, as nnw said. Unless you're not used to carrying a multi-day pack, or you're carrying much too much, I don't think the bigger climb early in the walk is an issue at all. It's not that big a climb.

Absolutely definitely don't rely on the ferry in winter. It may not come. Or they will probably come only if you pay $300 if you're the only passenger (= 6 people).

Gotta get me a kevlar bag!
Last edited by Tortoise on Wed 12 Jun, 2019 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 8:47 pm

You guys are so helpful, it’s good to bounce my ideas off people who have actual experience, thanks.
I’m sure the people I’ve arranged to take/pick me up are flexible with regards to the day I go if the weather is truly horrendous. So I’ll plan to start at Cradle, allow for flexibility with the weather, and allow an extra day to walk out.

The possum bag was worth it for entertainment value alone :lol: I got the Ursack minor. Just don’t judge my poor bag placement.. I was kind enough to give him a seat so I could see how tough the bag was 8)
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Re: July hike

Postby Tortoise » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 9:44 pm

Hey Xastorm,

I feel your excitement. It's a special place. Thinking some more, I do feel the need to mention...

It sounds like you haven't had much experience walking or camping in the snow. So I'm a bit concerned about you doing the walk solo in winter. Might be a brilliant walk. Often the most snow comes after July. Trouble is, if things go pear-shaped, that can happen very quickly. I guess you know hypothermia is an insidious thing, and losing insight/capacity to make good decisions increases risks dramatically when you're on your own. You probably also know that several people have died of it doing the OLT. So if there are people doing the walk at the same time who don't mind company, it might well be worth joining them, or looking out for each other.

Even well-prepared folks can get caught. A few years ago, a guy had to set off his PLB after 3 or 4 days stuck at Kia Ora Hut, unable to continue even with snow shoes, because of the very deep, soft snow. He had lots of spare food, but not enough for that many days. Tassie snow is notorious for not being packed down. It can be hard to figure out exactly where the track is under the snow, and you can fall through into vegetation, bogs and creeks. It takes a lot of effort to extract yourself when you've got a full pack. I'd definitely recommend taking 2 poles with baskets, which help a lot with balance in slippery conditions. I'd also consider micro-spikes if frost is forecast - boardwalks covered in ice are a challenge! Then your pack is getting heavier, though...

Forecasts are pretty helpful, but not 100% reliable. We had a trip to Mt Thetis one autumn, with 1-2 mm of rain and light winds forecast for the worst day. Reality brought gale-force winds that knocked me over, 12 hours of heavy snow, followed by 12 hours of torrential rain. That kind of situation can be a scary thing if you're on your own, especially if not experienced with that, and if you roll an ankle, for example. Suddenly you can't keep moving to keep warm.

So, be prepared for a plan B, or to turn back if necessary. Anyhoo, I've mentioned it now. All the best!
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 9:57 pm

Thankyou, I appreciate the need for a warning. I’m not taking this lightly, I have put in some snow hike overnighters the past few weeks to familiarise myself with my new gear and confirm my confidence in my fitness to go on a hike like this. I’ve also done a basic navigation course and have medical background. So I’m not complacent as to the risk, but also am looking forward to the challenge. And most definitely prepared to pull the plug or retreat if conditions aren’t favourable or I feel out of my depth early on.. I know a few 2 day snow walks is not in the same league as heading into Tassie wilderness. That said, I’m hopeful it will be an enjoyable experience :)
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Re: July hike

Postby benoloughlin » Wed 12 Jun, 2019 11:50 pm

My recommendation would be to walk n-s. That way you get the most exposed and highest part of the walk done and dusted on your first day. Then the track trends downhill to Lake St Clair. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and observations in the week prior to departure and delay or bring forward your departure date as needed.
As far as a possum-proof food bag - sounds like a good idea for the WoJ but for the Overland during winter I imagine you will be in huts unless you were caught between huts. My advice to you is to keep your pack and food inside the possum-proof huts rather than outside (regardless of whether you are sleeping in a hut or on a tent platform.
Microspikes and walking sticks - definitely.
Any other time of year you can get away with going solo but in Winter and if it is snowy - I would have to agree with others who suggested walking with another person.
Plan to walk all the way out around Lake St Clair. Personally, I think that section of the track is under-rated!
All the best!

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Re: July hike

Postby north-north-west » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 9:04 am

And re the dehy banana - I think you might have problems with this. There is a detailed explanation somewhere on the TT site of exactly what is and what is not allowed. If that doesn't clarify it for you, contact them directly -- they're usually pretty good at explaining these things to make sure people don't get caught out on the day.
Sealed commercial dried fruits and nuts are usually OK, I think, but home prepared might be an issue. Again, check with TT.
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Re: July hike

Postby Warin » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 10:33 am

north-north-west wrote:Sealed commercial dried fruits and nuts are usually OK, I think, but home prepared might be an issue. Again, check with TT.


It is not TT that does the approval.. but the Tasmanian government quarantine/bio security
https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-t ... o-tasmania

In short that says
Fresh fruit and veg NO
Fruit and Vegetables (cooked, hard frozen, canned, preserved, dried commercially) YES.

Camping foods (freeze-dried) Yes

It says noting about home dehydrated foods.. If you cook the food and then dehydrate it you might be ok .. but it is up to the person you get as to if they accept that it is cooked, not just dehydrated e.g. I cook my granny smith apples before dehydration in the microwave. I don't see much visual evidence of the cooking.
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Re: July hike

Postby north-north-west » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 3:09 pm

Warin wrote:
north-north-west wrote:Sealed commercial dried fruits and nuts are usually OK, I think, but home prepared might be an issue. Again, check with TT.


It is not TT that does the approval.. but the Tasmanian government quarantine/bio security
https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-t ... o-tasmania


I never said they did the approval, but there are guidelines on their website. People have had issues with opened packets of commercially prepared foods, or with home prepared foods.
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Re: July hike

Postby GBW » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 3:41 pm

Last time I flew into Launceston they asked if I had any fresh fruit then did a swab for explosives! :shock:

I'm thinking of heading over for the Overland in a couple of weeks also. My question is: Is there anywhere at Cynthia Bay to leave a food parcel? I'd like to walk NS, have a 1-2 days at the lake then walk back to Cradle. Is that possible?
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Re: July hike

Postby north-north-west » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 6:20 pm

GBW wrote: Is there anywhere at Cynthia Bay to leave a food parcel? I'd like to walk NS, have a 1-2 days at the lake then walk back to Cradle. Is that possible?


Ranger station, or a hidden cache at Fergys.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Fri 28 Jun, 2019 8:29 pm

Turns out freeze-dried bananas are okay even if they have been opened, and duh me, I bought them over earlier in the year when I went to the Walls :D

I am due to set off mid next week, weather permitting. Please be kind weather-gods. I've been doing a weekly overnight up in the Alps so am getting familiar with my snowshoes and camping/sleeping in the snow.

Would anyone be willing to look over my gear list and make comment if I post it?

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Re: July hike

Postby north-north-west » Sat 29 Jun, 2019 8:36 am

Xastorm wrote:Would anyone be willing to look over my gear list and make comment if I post it?


There are always people willing to comment. Useful commentary, however . . . :roll:

One word of warning about the huts (if things get really nasty and you decide solid walls and rooves are necessary - do not expect there to be fuel for the heaters (Windermere is already out of gas according to logbook entries there) and even if there is fuel, don't count on being able to turn them on single-handed. The operation is a bit fiddly and in some cases impossible for a single person.
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Re: July hike

Postby Tortoise » Sat 29 Jun, 2019 10:44 am

Hi again, Xastorm. Just a comment from your lovely snow camp photo above. Your Second Arrow could be pitched more tautly. You might know this already, but when the temperature drops, the SIL nylon stretches, and the guy lines become loose. The tent will flap a fair bit if the wind picks up. To deal with that, when I'm up for my last pee of the evening, I tighten all the guys. Not so much as will distort the shape of the tent at all. (And then if I'm leaving the tent in the sun for a side-trip, I slacken the guys off again, so as not to put tension on the seams as the tent heats up.) While you're likely to camp in more sheltered spots on the OLT, if you need to set up in an exposed spot, it can make a big difference.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Sun 30 Jun, 2019 6:36 pm

Fair call re asking for advice. If I post my gear list I’m sure I’ll get some “you don’t need all that” comments, but only I know just how cold I sleep. So I’ll leave it be as I’m confident in my gear choices. And thanks re huts, I wasn’t planning on using gas (hence am carrying extra warm sleeping gear!). It’s school/uni holidays now so I am guessing it will be relatively busy.

However: tent pitching! Thanks Tortoise. Can I ask more advice?
I saw your message before I left yesterday so was more careful to tighten the guy lines. It was a crazy windy, snowy night and the top of the tent stayed taut, however you can see what’s happened to the rest. And no matter what I can’t get the vestibule fly section at a decent tension, even when I first pitch it :? (The vestibule has elastic cords if that matters).

You can see from the photos my issues.
Before snow;
CE218647-EA1A-4D48-B21E-DBCE7895429A.jpeg


After snow;
3A4C1F1F-1515-4B0D-9551-59E19903EB63.jpeg
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Re: July hike

Postby TentPeg » Sun 30 Jun, 2019 7:55 pm

Hi Xastorm. I'm still getting used to the arrow but I have found that to get good tension the front poles need to be more vertical than your picture. That means tensioning the back first and then the front.
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Mon 01 Jul, 2019 6:21 pm

Thanks Tentpeg, I’ll take it out tomorrow and give it a decent go when I’m not freezing my fingers off in the snow.

Finally test packed my bag today, pleasingly it all fits well and weighs slightly less than anticipated :D
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Re: July hike

Postby Petew » Tue 02 Jul, 2019 6:36 am

Please let me know how your trip goes. Me and a mate are going at the end of July.

Have fun!
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Wed 03 Jul, 2019 10:01 am

Thanks Pete, I will do. I’m staying at the place you recommended :)
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Re: July hike

Postby Petew » Wed 03 Jul, 2019 2:30 pm

Cool, let me know how that goes too. Exciting!
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Re: July hike

Postby Petew » Sun 14 Jul, 2019 9:28 am

Hi Xastorm,

How was the hike? Ours is in a couple of weeks.

I am taking microspikes and walking poles (which I never use). Did you end up needing them much?

Many people about? Most importantly, did you have a great time?
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Re: July hike

Postby Xastorm » Sun 14 Jul, 2019 5:41 pm

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I had a magnificent time, so much so that I extended my walk and had a couple of nights at Pine Valley. The scenery and weather was amazing for winter, unfortunately I walked into Lake St Clair just as the snow was settling so missed out on a true winter wonderland. My highlight was hearing 3 lyrebirds in the Du Cane rainforest (I know they are not endemic to Tasmania, but they are my favourite bird so it was a real treat to hear them singing the black currawong song). I’ve uploaded my photos here but posted a few favourites below;
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmF6nV4t

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The huts were a complete surprise (with regards to how fancy they were), and many times I thought I was glamping it a bit too well! It was definitely one of my easier walk (the weather was too kind to me), but the huts made it so nice to be able to dry out clothes and cook dinner out of the weather.

My total pack weight was just under 19kg for the 9 days with snow shoes. I was on the lighter end of weight compared to many, but if anything I feel I had more kit (for example I sleep on 2 mats in winter, had 4 pairs of gloves, carried a dedicated PLB AND etrex AND iPhone, took 8kg food and bought back a full days worth despite extending my time out there).. It was interesting to see what gear other people choose to carry.

Microspikes and poles definitely, there was ice along the entire path the first day. I’d also carry snow shoes again in winter despite not using them (not many had them).. The current snow conditions up there look pretty solid. I didn’t take my spikes off the whole walk and didn’t fall once (high fracture risk so can’t take the chance). I also managed to keep my socks dry for the first 7 days thanks to my poles (good puddle depth determiners!) but had to admit defeat when the creek level was mid thigh near the end :mrgreen: I can see how people can become flooded in.

And be prepared for company if you choose to sleep in the huts. I only had one night to myself, which was a real surprise for me as I rarely see others when I hike in Victoria. But I enjoyed the conversations, and chose to wear ear plugs versus deal with a wet tent :lol: But yes, probably 4+ each night in the huts and I passed maybe an average of 4-8 people a day?

Feel free to ask if you’ve any questions that I can help with!

(PS.. the accommodation and D&M (and her cooking) were AWESOME. I was so thankful that they were flexible so I could stay out there longer.)
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Re: July hike

Postby Petew » Sun 14 Jul, 2019 7:07 pm

I had a look at your phot album. Wow, you are pretty good at the happy snaps!

Looks like the weather was kind to you given the time of year.

We are going two weeks tomorrow. Plan was to avoid all school and Uni Holidays.

Glad to hear the accommodation was good. How long was the drive to cradle mountain from the accommodation?

Thanks for sharing, sounds like you had a great time.
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