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Sunday, May 16, 2004
Overland Track - Day 5 - Pelion Hut to Windermere Hut
During the night, I could hear it raining, and when I woke in the morning, it was still raining.
After wasting a bit of time, figuring out whether to stay at Pelion or to go on, I decided to push on, to at least Windermere Hut, since the rain wasn't very heavy, and since it might rain tomorrow as well.
I set off slowly into the rain, the first from the hut to leave, and quickly found that the rain had submerged many parts of the track in puddles. I also found that things were now quite slippery, as I fell when I stepped on a wet tree root, just a few minutes from Pelion Hut, getting me a bit muddy.
After about an hour of walking in the forest, I came to Frog Flat – supposedly a camp ground, but it would have been very wet in the rain.
There had been quite a few muddy spots and eroded areas up to Frog Flat, but they weren't as bad for the next hour, which was spent climbing slowly through the forest. The forest was quite pretty, with cloud occasionally enveloping it, then the occasional ray of sunshine, but the rain never really stopped, just eased to be very light. Fairly suddenly, the trail emerged on a buttongrass alpine plain. There were clouds swirling in the adjacent Forth Valley, and it was still raining a little. The track surface turned to broken rocks, which often had shallow water lying over them.
After traversing the plain, coming to a stand of trees, and going through, another, bigger plain opened in front of me – Pine Forest Moor. A short side track led to a viewpoint of the Forth Valley which was still somewhat impressive despite the surrounding mountains being hidden by cloud. As I left the lookout, the rain really started to come down, and as I crossed the Moor, on boards and broken rock, the wind picked up to turn the rain into driving rain. By this time, I'd remembered that my waterproof pants didn't work very well, as I was wet wherever they rubbed. On a fine day the Moor would be quite beautiful, as it is studded with many small tarns, and surrounded by mountains, but I mostly saw just the track as I pushed on with my head down into the rain. At one point the track actually went through the middle of a small tarn, although it may normally be dry.
I was on the lookout for lakes, since the next hut was near Lake Windermere. After Pine Forest Moor, there was a sharp dip where I thought a lake might be, but no, no lake. Then I topped the a rise, and saw a lake which I thought was the Lake Windermere (it turned out to be Lake Curran), but the track passed it and continued for another kilometre before coming to Windermere Hut.
It was a relief to walk into the dry hut. The relief was however tempered by learning that the gas heater was not working.
While I had some lunch, Annerieke van Hoek and Jeroen Immerzeel, who I'd met at the previous huts, turned up. Since Jeroen was a chemical engineer, he soon determined the active gas bottle was empty, and Annerieke with her small hands was able to turn on one of the other full ones. That pretty much made me decide to stay, since we'd been told that the Waterfall Valley Hut's heater was also not working, and I really wanted to dry my stuff.
The rain continued on and off for most of the afternoon, making me even more glad that I didn't go on. The only problem was, what would the weather be like tomorrow? – Better or worse?