Australia,  Tasmania

Hiking the Tasmanian Trail – Section 2, Forested Ranges

My hike continues. Read on to see me being challenged by swollen creeks, dodgy hip sockets and non-existent campsites. If you haven’t already, check out this post where I write about the first few days of hiking the Tasmanian Trail.

Day 5, 38.5km

The day started off well enough. The weather was nice, I woke up early and packed up quickly. The kilometres went quickly… until I go to Lobster Rivulet. I’ve been doing the alternative bypasses around the big river crossings due to a large amount of rain that there’s been recent. However, the trail notes made no mention of this creek being hard to cross or that it would become flooded.

I was shocked to see how big it was. I tried to cross it but the current was strong, I couldn’t see the bottom and it was quickly getting deeper the further out I went. I decided that it would be stupid to keep going and returned to the shore. The water was very cold and I huddled on the bank, trying to find a way around the creek. I worked out if I retraced my steps to a road I’d turned off yesterday afternoon I could hike along the route recommended for horse riders to where it re-joined the main trail.

It’s quite disheartening to walk past the place where you camped four hours after you started walking.

I went past a place where the trail notes said camping was permitted in the afternoon. I’d been planning to stop there for the night but it didn’t feel like I’d done enough kilometres that day. Quamby Corner campground was another 10 kilometres away and I decided to try to make it before dark. I did make it but definitely not before dark. I was still about five kilometres away when the light started to fade. My feet were aching but I picked up the pace anyway, using two sticks to use as hiking poles. I used the to propel me forward as I speed-walked faster and faster as the light faded.

As I hiked along Highland Lakes Road at dusk people kept stopping to ask if I was okay, if I wanted a lift. One couple was quite concerned but I assured them that I was fine and they kept driving. Five minutes later they were back again to check that I really knew what I was doing. I explained what I was doing and that I couldn’t accept any lifts because I was thru-hiking and had a tentative goal of setting a record.

It was pretty dark when I staggered into Quamby Corner. The caretaker there is lovely. She told me that someone had been in earlier to tell her there was a ‘hiker heading your way but she’s only young lass and all alone’. Apparently, there were going to go looking for me if I hadn’t arrived by eight! As she put it ‘You’re in friendly country now.’ Although she said that she hadn’t been worried because ‘You hikers are a tough bunch.’

Day 6, Quamby Corner to Old Lifey School House, 20km

Quamby Corner

I slept in until at least 7.30, crazy, I know. The previous day had really exhausted me but I didn’t realise the toll it had taken until I tried to stand up – and nearly fell over again. My hip sockets were feeling sore and worn out and one of them just randomly gave out. After I’d warmed up a bit by limping to the bathroom, I decided that I’d be able to hike. I just wouldn’t be able to lift my right foot very far off the ground as my hip joint wasn’t cooperating. The only issue with that plan was that I would be going up over a small mountain range.

The only wildlife that I saw were caterpillars and lots of them! Most of them were just crossing the road and I had to be careful not to step on them.

The day was quite warm, topping at 20 degrees celsius! This was nice to start with but soon it felt draining. I felt as if I had no energy and it was an effort to continue putting one foot in front of the other. I kept finding excuses to stop for quick breaks when normally I won’t actually rest until I set up for the night. I think that yesterday really wore me out.

So when I saw a place in Liffey where I knew I was allowed to camp, I set up despite it being quite early. Sitting on the hill and looking out of the paddocks surrounding me, I felt ridiculously happy. I have a lot of ups and downs hiking, quite often I’m wet, cold, in pain and miserable but most of the time I’m happier than I have any right to be.

Day 7, Up onto the Central Plateau, 31.7km

I got offered a lift today when it wasn’t even properly light yet! This time it was actually from a young guy, normally it’s 50+ men. I’ve been trying to decide if that meant that young people were less friendly or just had more faith in my ability. I’m also trying to work out why women are so much less likely to offer me a lift. Maybe they are concerned about their own safety? Not sure.

The day started off on country lanes, leading closer and closer to the looming mountains. I kept telling myself that they weren’t really the mountains that I’d have to climb to get onto the central plate but I didn’t believe myself. The trail goes through quite a bit of private property in this stage. Hiking through private property is one of the reasons that you need to get membership through the Tasmanian Trail Association. They will send you a card that you can show if anyone wants to know if you are allowed to be hiking through such areas.

Before I left the road, a local farmer pulled over to check that I knew what I was doing. He warned me of the rain heading my way. Apparently, he used to drive cattle up the stock route that I was about to climb. He told me about a sandstone cave partway up that I could shelter in if the weather got too bad and told me to write my name there in charcoal, which I did. I know the photo isn’t great quality, that’s because my phone was wet.

The weather held out pretty well for the first few hours but I could feel it getting steadily colder as I gained elevation. Then the rain slowly started getting heavier, making the rocks underfoot slippery.

By the time I made it to the top I was soaked through with rain. My rain jacket doesn’t seem to be very waterproof anymore. I staggered out of the bush and onto the Poatina Highway. According to my trail notes, there was a small spot to camp not too far away.

Out on the highway, I wasn’t sheltered from the wind like I had been in the bush and I was soon shivering with the cold. It was stressful walking next to the highway, even though there weren’t many cars. I put on my high-vis vest and stayed right off the road. Every time a car went past it left a gust of icy wind in its wake. I was getting colder and colder and could not see the campsite anyway. I started jogging to get my body warmed up.

After what felt like ages I still hadn’t found the campsite. I was so cold that I knew it would be stupid to try and keep hiking. I decided to just set up in the clearing and, decision made, I quickly found a spot off the highway that was not too rocky and set my tent up. I was hidden from the road by the scraggly bushes, even if they did scratch my legs up.

When I finally worked out where I was, I discovered I’d gone a few kilometres past where the camping site was. I also found that I was camped at 1200 metres elevation!

So that was the second leg of my journey hiking the Tasmanian Trail! Meaning…

160 out of 470 kilometres done!

Approximately

As usual, if you have any questions pop them in the comments below, I’ll be back soon with the next chapter of my hike!

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