I must admit to being a bit slack lately with updating this blog – and for that my apologies to you all, my bad.
But I do have something to update you with now, a few weeks ago, along with Kim who did the last Everest trek with me, I took on the Three Capes Track in Tasmania. What a wonderful hike, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh, and another apology … for the length of this post, I think I got carried away, but there’s so much more I could have written. I might have to do another post soon on the actual practicalities of the hike.
The Three Capes Track walk starts, strangely enough, with a boat ride.
Day 1 – Port Arthur to Surveyors
The starting point for the walk is the Port Arthur settlement, where we met the other hikers who would be keeping us company in the evenings when we all met up at the end of each day.
Although up to 48 people can set off each day it’s an independent walk – you go at your own pace but meet up at huts that have been purpose built for each of the three overnight stops.
The boat trip around Port Arthur takes just over an hour and our guide Ben was an absolute fount of knowledge, pointing out Sea Eagles and their nests and explaining all about the formation of the dolomite cliffs and the caves beneath them.
And then it was time to get serious!
Although I’ve done a few serious treks in the last few years I’ve only ever had to carry a day pack, this hike requires a big pack, a heavy pack, a pack that I hadn’t actually carried for more than a couple of hours. Oh well, no backing out now, me and my 13 kg pack got ourselves together, took the proverbial deep breath and launched ourselves into this new adventure.
And guess what? We managed, in fact we did more than just manage, we got on very well.
It was only a short walk that first afternoon, about 4km but that was quite far enough for my first stroll with the bigger pack.
Our accommodation for the night was the purpose built Surveyors hut and seemed like the height of luxury. In a spectacular location 120m above sea level with views across Port Arthur inlet to Cape Raoul and the setting sun – theoretically that is. We arrived in sunshine but only 30 minutes later the clouds rolled in over the deck and the raindrops started to fall.
Day 2 – Surveyors to Munro
Aka ‘The Day of the Leech.’ (more on that later)
It was a really great day. A reasonable night’s sleep and a successful breakfast in a bag – Bircher muesli with milk powder added, all carried in a glad bag, and then water added the previous night to soak it – set the tone for the day. It was a lovely morning along the cliffs to the top of Arthur’s Peak and then a short walk to another spectacular view at Jurassic Crack
Then it was on through Cloud Forest, walking among huge moss covered boulders into Ellarwey Valley. It was at this point that the drizzle started and we stopped in the atmospheric but wet forest for a quick lunch of soup from our thermos. The light drizzle wasn’t too much of a hassle and the autumn colours dripping in the mist certainly provided a delightful atmosphere.
Not far after that to Munro hut and we were there by early afternoon. We got ourselves sorted and settled in the communal dining hut, me with my journal and Kim with her knitting. Kim suddenly started rummaging around in her fleece – she could feel something down there – and out dropped a squishy leech who’d certainly had his fill.
For the rest of the afternoon she was dying a slow death from blood loss – from the tiny pinprick her friend had left. Although they’re harmless these little critters are a rather yucky intrusion in the dripping forests around here.
Day 3 – Munro to Retakunna, via The Blade
The days are getting more and more spectacular as we go. Today we left our big packs at Munro hut and just took a small daypack for a walk out to Cape Pillar and The Blade. An hours walk from the hut and we began to get some idea of what we were to see and experience. Our ultimate destination this morning was The Blade, which we could see from a distance not far into the walk, but there was a lot to come before that.
Before we were to climb the dizzying heights to the top of The Blade we were compelled to point our cameras almost constantly at the coastline. The tumultuous coastline where vertical sheets of Dolomite rose pillar like in a continuous curtain of grey.
There was a sign warning of the dangers of stepping too close to the edge of the cliffs but, placed as it was close to a picturesque edge all it did was draw your attention to it and almost invite you to step as close to the edge as you dare in search of that perfect photo.
We accepted the challenge and took the photos that required us to put our fears to one side, to stand on that rock and to peer over into the boiling abyss. Okay, a but dramatic maybe but there were a couple of times when we stood where maybe we shouldn’t.
The Blade itself? Challenge completed!
After closing my mind to what was below and the narrowness of one particular section, I’d scrambled to the top and from there I was privy to what Mother Nature and Father Time had been able to create with their combined talents – This stunning vista, the emergence of this incredible and alluring piece of architectural magnificence from the ocean floor.
We took photos, we laughed and spent time just taking it all in and then it was time to head back to Munro, have another soup for lunch, throw our big packs back on and head back an hour up the track to tonight’s accommodation at Retakunna.
Day 4 – Retakunna to Fortescue Bay
Aka The Night of the Wombat
Last night our host ranger William had told us about the echidna and the wombat who were occasionally seen around the hut. I joked to Kim that I’d probably run into one of them on my middle of the night stroll to the toilets without having my camera on me. Well, so be it.
Somewhere in wee dark hours, nature called and I was taking a brisk hike across to the toilet block when I heard a rustle in the bushes off to the left of the boardwalk. I swung my torch round and there in its gleam I saw my very first wombat!!!!!! He just stood there and looked at me and I stood there and looked at him and there was no one else around. It was just so cool. I went up to the loo and he was still there when I came back, what a moment.
Anyway…. on to our final day of the hike.
This final day was spectacular, stunning, surprising, fairytale and fantastic (too many adjectives?). We climbed to the top of Mt Fortescue through a magical, Lord of the Rings type forest. Green and mossy and dark and dank but atmospheric, a fantasy world of mossy greens and fungi of all colours and shapes. I could almost imagine the fairies and elves and hobbits coming to life and appearing from under the fronds of the tree ferns or the tree ferns coming to life and supervising the work of the underlings as they created such awe inspiring surroundings.
But then we were out of the forest, the magical fungi forest, and heading down through drier, more Australian, undergrowth, and we were back by the coast leading to another spectacular ocean vista.
After squillions of steps down and down and then up and down again and up again we stood by a bright yellow safety railing (an absolutely necessary railing) looking down to the bright blue, churning ocean crashing into the base of the T0tem Pole. These churning seas seemed to batter at the earth in an attempt to dislodge the columns of dolomite from their anchor.
My feet at this point (6 hours into the day) were certainly feeling it, they’d had enough and getting down the multitude of steps into Fortescue Bay took some doing. The stunning Bay was a sight that kept us going in that last hour and the relief at dropping our packs at the end and taking a welcome break was indescribable.
Four days, three nights and 48 km took every bit of energy I had but it was with a feeling of exhilaration and a sense of achievement that I welcomed that bus that was to take us back to our starting point at Port Arthur.
And I’d do it again.