Day 5: Ambling Thru the Wet Alpine

Thursday November 24, 22.2km/13.8mi

Waterfall Hut (10.5/1025m) to New Pelion Hut (32.7/863m) (TAS)

I didn’t sleep well last night, and had a mild fever and all the usual flu things, so I slept in until 8am. It was also still drizzling outside and it wasn’t forecasted to stop until 9am, so I was in no hurry.

I took some more photos of the hut’s interior, to show how insanely nice these things are.

As good as the best self-service huts in New Zealand! After some ibuprofen, decongestant, and caffeine I was feeling better. And the precipitation stopped at 9:30, so off I went!

The signs here give the distances in hours/minutes, which is a rather imprecise way to do it. I find I can usually hike in 2/3rds of the stated time. Much of the morning hiking was on boardwalks…but occasionally those just randomly ended. Thank goodness for waterproof socks!

The trail stayed high all morning, going across the alpine plateau. I think the park calls it moorland.

I would guess that 70% of the trail was on boardwalk this morning, it was rather nice. And the blue sky was also trying to make an appearance.

I came upon Lake Holmes, which to me looked more like a large pond.

Looking back on Lake Holmes:

Also in the distance in that photo is a large group, stopped at the trail junction to Lake Will, an easy 1km side trail. I didn’t make the journey because I figured there wouldn’t be any views with the fog. In another 30 minutes I was at a much bigger lake, Lake Windermere.

Along the lakeshore were growing all these gum trees. The stripey patterns on the bark are crazy.

Even with my late departure from the hut this morning, I still arrived at the next hut for lunchtime. These new huts are massive!

Each hut has its own animal to welcome you. Windermere hut!

The dining area looked like it belonged in an upscale cafe! I enjoyed my lunch burrito while staring at the surrounding mountains.

Even the bathrooms look extravagant. They are still wilderness composting toilets, but with much polish and shine.

Most of my afternoon hiking was on a trail that gradually descended into the Forth River valley, with views of Mt. Oakleigh ahead.

And of course it was nice to have boardwalks for all the swampy bits.

I came across a new feature of the boardwalks that I hadn’t seen before, the name of the area carved into the board.

More views of mountains in clouds.

The junction to the neat little lookout over Forth Valley.

The lookout was a short 50m down a side trail and totally worth it.

It even had a stone bench seat!

Soon the trail left the grassy moorlands and entered a nice mossy forest.

Soon after, I saw this uniquely Australian animal. What are you?

As I got lower in elevation, there were constant little stream crossings and waterfalls.

I loved walking thru this green carpeted forest.

I don’t know the names of these two peaks, but they had very unique profiles.

The final stream crossing was over the Forth River itself.

Then it was time to climb up out of the valley, which surprisingly was on a boardwalk (it had been a muddy rooty mess for the past 2 hours).

Just before 6pm, New Pelion Hut came into view.

It was a huge hut with 6 bunkrooms holding 34 hikers total. I opened the door…

And needless to say, the funk of 30+ hikers’ wet gear was the first thing I noticed. And most of their socks and shoes were outside on the porch!

I chose one of the remaining bunks and setup, and then enjoyed my salmon and pesto ravioli dinner on the porch. The view can’t be beat!

I eventually finished my dinner (still don’t feel well, and not that hungry), and ended up talking to two women from Adelaide for a long time about American backpacking gear. Apparently we take for granted how lightweight and cheap our gear is, and so widely available too. Who knew!

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