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Saturday, May 15, 2004
Overland Track - Day 4 - Kia-Ora Hut to Mt. Ossa to Pelion Hut
After packing my gear, I left the hut at 8am.
Everything had frost and ice on it – every leaf, every blade of grass, the track, everything. Mud holes on the track were frozen solid.
The track went down slightly into forest, then started climbing. I popped out of the trees into a wide plain, sloping down a little, then up, to Pelion Gap, with great views all around of massive mountains, like Mt Pelion East, and Mt Ossa.
Climbing up to Pelion Gap, several sections of split wood duckboard were covered in a veneer of ice, making them amazingly slippery. I got to Pelion Gap, where there are tracks to Mt Ossa and Mt Pelion East, and packed some stuff into my small bag, and started up toward Mt Ossa.
The track went up Mt Doris for some way, with several more icy step sections, then skirted around Mt Doris to the south, where there were several small snow drifts. Descending slightly into a saddle, the track then climbed very steeply up Mt Ossa itself.
Swinging around the south side of one of the buttresses, there was suddenly a lot of snow on the track. It was now mostly hard packed snow with occasional rocks. The track traversed across a steep snow slope, which was a little dodgy with no ice axe or trekking pole, then clambored up a rocky and snowy chute to a ridgeline.
From here, the track descended slightly, before ascending steeply again, but only briefly before reaching the flat plateau top, and the summit.
For a little while, I was the highest person in Tasmania. There were great views all around, including out to Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff. I couldn't see Frenchmans Cap, as it was hazy in the distance, especially in the west, where there were dark clouds moving in. It had only taken 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the top. Descending was not as bad as I'd feared it might be, and took about an hour.
Back at Pelion Gap, I had lunch and decided to try to climb Pelion East as well, despite feeling a few drops of rain.
The track up Pelion East was much less formed, and there were many deep muddy sections. I got about 15 minutes up before it started raining properly, and looking around, I realised that I wouldn't see anything from the summit, so turned around. By the time I got back to Pelion Gap, Mt Ossa had completely disappeared in cloud, and the summit of Mt Pelion East was also shrouded.
I put my pack back on and walked onward in the rain. From Pelion Gap, the trail descended through Myrtle and Eucalypt forests. The Eucalypts looked stunning in the rain, as their bark was intense shades of red, yellow, orange and green.
After what seemed like ages, I came to Pelion Hut. It could hardly be cauld a "Hut" as it sleeps 60 people. It has a gorgeous view, across Pelion Plain to Barn Bluff, and other surrounding mountains. Everyone sat on the veranda and admired the view, until rainclouds came in and progressively covered the mountains.