Finish marker of the Tasmanian Trail, Gabrielle Kotanidis
Australia,  Tasmanian Trail

Completing the 480km Tasmanian Trail, Setting TWO Records

My sense of excitement was building as I neared the end of the Tasmanian Trail. I only had two days of hiking left! Surely I’d be able to make it! Even if I broke a leg, I could hop the last stretch, or crawl.

Day 14, Judburry – Geeveston

28.4km

If you’ve noticed, yes, I also marked yesterday in the last post as day 14. I have somehow gained a day in my posts and I have no idea how. I promise to get to the bottom of the problem and correct the posts accordingly. But until then, we have two day 14s.

After doing over forty kilometres yesterday, I was running pretty low on energy. If I wasn’t so close to the end of the trail I would have been tempted to have a zero-day. But with just 60 km to go, I wanted to be done.

It was a really pretty farming area. I liked hiking over the rolling hills. They weren’t steep enough to slow me and created some variety. Quite early in the morning, I was overtaken by the local running group.

Further on, a van with two people in it stopped by me. They did the usual offering-of-lifts thing. But, these two actually seemed very interested in what I was doing. They asked me lots of questions about the trail as they hadn’t heard of it. One of them had done the Camino de Santiago hike in Spain multiple times.

I’m pretty sure that this foal was born overnight. It was still very wobbly-leged. Its skin still had the damp, kind of wrinkled look of newborn animals.

The picturesque farmland gave way to the plantation. At least this meant that I could see the surrounding mountains. I tried to compare them to the illustrations in my trail notes. I couldn’t work out which mountain was which but decided to return one day and climb them all. Peakbagging sounds fun.

I made it to Geeveston by mid-afternoon. It was still early but I was exhausted. My body just felt heavy and every step was painful. It felt like the bottoms of my feet were one big bruise. I was back to having trouble with my hip sockets, making lifting my legs painful. I could see that it was going to start raining again soon.

Taking all of this into account, I decided to stop at the official Tasmanian Trail free campsite behind the RSL. Good decision because as soon as I’d set up, it started raining really hard. Despite it only being 4.30 pm, I fell asleep for the night. Considering I woke at 5 am the next morning, that meant that I got over 12 hours of sleep!

36km from Geeveston to DOVER!

Day 14.999 but not quite ticking over to 15

I know that’s pretty much day 15 but I’d really like to emphasise that I didn’t make it quite to 15 whole days. You’ll find out why this is an important distinction soon.

When I woke up, the first thing I thought was ‘this is the last day!’. I pretty much leapt out of my sleeping bag and packed as quickly as I could.

As I was leaving Geeveston by the main road, a man stopped to talk to me. He told me to just continue straight along the highway, rather than turning off to the network of logging tracks. That route would be a lot faster. I had done all of the trail as a purist, sticking to the official route (aside from when flooding made it impassable). So I wasn’t even a little bit tempted to cheat on my last day. I explained to him that I was trying to set an official record. To do that I had to stick to the official trail, however illogical it was.

I saw two lyrebirds! I think that was the highlight of my whole trip. My sisters were very jealous. They’re avid bird-watchers but have never seen or heard a lyrebird.

With just a few kilometres left, the drizzling rain stopped and the sun came out. I know that it was just a coincidence, but it almost felt like nature was welcoming me to the end.

When I saw the sign that marked the official end of the trail I started grinning like a maniac and ran/shuffled/limped towards it, arms outstretched. I threw my arms around the signpost and hugged it. I was filthy and must have looked ridiculous. But I couldn’t have cared less, I’d made it! I’d finished!

Still buzzing with excitement, I went over to a table in the neighbouring park, shed my pack and collapsed. As soon as I caught my breath I started trying to work out exactly how long the hike had taken me. My brain wasn’t functioning very well and it took me way longer than it should have.

As it was my last day of hiking, I’d been recording the entire day’s walking on Strava. This also allowed me to work out the exact time that I finished.

I worked out the exact time that I started by looking at the timestamps on photos.

So in total, walking the 480km Tasmanian Trail from the top to the bottom of the state took me:

14 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes

I couldn’t believe it, I was just THREE MINUTES away from it ticking over into 15 days! I had started the first day in the afternoon and finished the last day just slightly earlier in the afternoon. This was awesome! I was really happy with this time, the recommended time for the Tasmanian Trail is 30 days, I’d halved it!

After texting everybody excited messages that I’d finished and hadn’t gotten myself killed, I went into the toilet block. I stripped off until I was just in my underwear. The tap water was freezing cold but I washed down as best I could. I was covered in mud and I’m pretty sure I must have smelt terrible. I hadn’t had a shower in ages. It was probably pointless because I had to put my filthy clothes back on again. A friend was going to pick me up and drive me to Hobart, where I would spend the night before taking a bus back up to Launceston. I had to at least try to not stink out the car.

I had a while to wait so I went to the IGA and bought lots of food. The park was a nice spot to sit and eat it. I realised that this was the longest I’d sat down in a very long time. My habit of hiking without rests, then just sleeping meant that I hadn’t really sat over the last fortnight.

Setting Records

After getting home, I set about getting verified on the website Fastest Known Time to get my name down as the fastest unsupported female. It took quite a few emails back and forth for me to supply sufficient proof for them to accept me.

In the end, I was verified! Yeah, My time is a lot slower than the fastest male unsupported time but that’s okay, I didn’t leave planning to set a record, I only realised halfway through that it might be a possibility. I didn’t even train!

I also set a second record becoming the…

…youngest person to solo-hike the Tasmanian Trail at 17 years, 7 months and 18 days old!

Back to Normal Life

When I got home I had just one week of holiday left (it was only a three-week break). I spent it sleeping and eating. I don’t think I managed my nutrition very well because I was ravenous. It’s probably nearly impossible to eat the kind of calories every day that I was burning.

While hiking, I’d noticed a bit of pain in the back of my heel. I just assumed that it was my shoes rubbing. It wasn’t until playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee that I realised that I had injured my Achilles tendon. My hip sockets also hurt a lot for a few weeks. My Achilles is now healed, there’s just a small lump of scar tissue now. I’m lucky that I didn’t hurt myself worse, considering I didn’t train.

I settled back into everyday life pretty quickly but I’d definitely gained a reputation. I was soon known as ‘that girl that hiked across Tasmania’. People were impressed but mostly thought I was crazy. It didn’t feel that impressive to me, I’d just plodded along. Even months later, people will still tease me, asking what my next crazy scheme is. I’m a lot younger than everyone else at uni, probably the youngest student on the whole campus. By doing the hike I think that I inadvertently proved my maturity. People aren’t as likely to doubt my capability as much now, I’m not just that skinny teenage girl to keep an eye on. I’m liking that.

So there you go, that was me hiking the Tasmanian Trail. Now I’m wondering what I should do next! Does anyone have any ideas? Let me know in the comments below! As usual, feel free to ask any questions there too. You can also email me via the Contact page. I’m always happy to help others plan hikes so fire away!

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