When I get down to it, it’s funny how in the wilderness, the elements became the sole arbiter of my moods.
The day started out with partly cloudy skies; in fact, I’d lamented that we didn’t have enough high cloud cover for a spectacular sunrise. By the time we packed up camp and pushed off though, the clouds had rolled in, fast, low and thick. At Fort Valley Lookout, we were once again shrouded in dense fog, with little sense of our surroundings.
The lush, closely leaning trees and peat moss underfoot in the myrtle-beech rainforest provided a vibrant verdant splash of color in the otherwise monochrome landscape. Our steps increasingly felt heavy, as we picked our way gingerly through the increasingly muddy forest, until at last we gave in to the inevitable and sank our boots into the sticky mud – and the opportunistic leeches that greedily wormed their way under our gaiters.
The rain started to fall, trickling down through the canopy of trees onto our heads. As the minutes and terrain seemed to drag interminably on, this day seemed harder than the first. No views, just mud. And tree roots.
And then the Felix Express came through. That’s what we’d christened the inspirational family of three: climbers / hikers Caitland and Haymitch who had bravely decided to bring their 17 month old son, Felix, onto the trail. We were just about fending for ourselves with our heavy loads, yet these two parents carried not just a squirming toddler, but all his gear and (soiled) nappies as well. Felix seemed to have taken well to his adventure though. They had pitched their tent next to ours the first night (much to the relief of the hikers who elected to sleep in the small hut with the platform bunk beds – and the initial consternation of mine), but we’d only heard Felix cry out once that long wet night. Now they rushed past us, eager to get to the next campsite, Pelion Hut, before Felix started to whine. Wow. There is life after kids I guess. But what a hardcore one.
Loos smell of rice husks
Except New Pelion Hut
Time: 5-7 hours
Terrain: Undulating across the buttongrass plains, with some steep forested sections.
Track Surface: Mainly natural gravel surface with some planking and cordwood.
Warning: The first half of the walk is exposed as you cross Pine Forest Moor. In wet, windy or snowy weather, wear wind and waterproof clothing. Eat and drink regularly to
maintain salt and sugar levels.
Your day begins striding out across the heathland and moorland. About 4km in, take the short side track to the Forth Valley Lookout to view into this deep, dramatic valley.
Back on the main track, you’ll pass through Pine Forest Moor and continue on through buttongrass moorlands before crossing Pelion Creek. You’ll then enter a glorious myrtle-beech rainforest on the eastern flanks of Mt Pelion West. It’s a gradual descent all the way through rainforest to Frog Flats – the lowest section of the Overland Track (730m above sea level). At Frog Flats you’ll cross the Forth River. There is a
campsite here, however most walkers push on to Pelion. From Frog Flats it’s a gradual walk up through more rainforest before breaking out into the open eucalypt forest on the edge of Pelion Plains. The spacious Pelion Hut is set on the edge of picturesque buttongrass
plains, with the spectacular dolerite spires of Mt Oakleigh framing the view to the north.