March 14th
Hartnett Falls-Narcissus Hut
Mileage: 13.5 kmon track + 16.2km side trip=29.7km/18.5mi
OLT Trip Total: 72.9mi/117.2km
Campsite Elevation: 2550ft/777m

Thankfully, the canyon we slept in wasn’t as cold and damp as it could’ve been. It was pretty dark, and we got a bit later of a start just after 7:30am. We hiked the short bit to reconnect back to the Overland. It was a relaxed wooded morning with plenty of spiderwebs to clear. So far, I’d say the constant spiderwebs in the face are my main annoyance in Tasmania since we haven’t had to deal with mud at all. They clear the more people walk the trail, but in the mornings, we tend to be the first ones through doing all the clearing. It was wooded hiking for most of all the morning as we turned off at Pine Valley for our next side hike. 

The Pine Valley forest is enchanting with lush green all around, roots winding across the trail, and boardwalks curving along a bending stream. I was really lethargic with menstrual cramps the first half of today, so I didn’t take many photos going into Pine Valley. I knew we’d be heading back out after our side trip and took photos then. The Overland Track is all about the side trips, and this one was a lengthy one that took most of the day, but was worth it. In Pine Valley there are two main side hikes and a hut. This hut is 3mi/5km off the Overland Track. It is close enough to hike in from the south end of the track, so people other than Overland Track hikers often go here to explore Pine Valley for a few days. We had lunch at the hut, left the majority of our gear there and took our packs with food, water, and jackets up to the Acropolis. It was a steep hike up through the forest before we broke out to see what we’d be climbing. 

The Acropolis. The summit is on the right side.

It was a great climb that got rockier as we went up. There were a couple sheer walls we needed to climb up that I wondered how I’d get down later. Once up top, the views were pretty great. 

We had it all to ourselves and stayed up there about an hour with some cell service and figuring out our plans for our finish tomorrow and where we are headed next. It will rain the day after tomorrow, and then be amazingly clear for about a week. It’s the perfect window to do the Western Arthurs Traverse that is the most challenging hike on our list. It takes about a week and can have very challenging weather, so we are making a go for it with this awesome open window of opportunity. More on that when we get to it, but we are pretty excited to get a good window for it!

While up there, we could see down to the other hike that many do in Pine Valley, the Labyrinth. It is lower down and goes to a network of lakes with nice views. It seems most do the Labyrinth as it affords good views without the exposure and higher climb of the Acropolis. 

The Labyrinth is the plateau with the lakes.

After looking down on the Labyrinth, we decided we were happy with our choice of the Acropolis and didn’t feel the need to do both side trips. We saw a photo of the main view on the Labyrinth and felt satisfied with that on this trip. There are so many side trips, and we know all are good, but we’re happy with our choice on this one. 

Great views!

It was about 4:30pm, when we returned to the Pine Valley Hut and packed up to do another 5mi/9km to the next hut, Narcissus Hut. It was mostly wooded hiking again, but very enjoyable. I got the photos of the enchanting Pine Valley that I didn’t get the first time through. 

It hit me that most of today was one big out and back. We’ve had a lot of those with all the side trips we are doing. It’s awesome to be able to do these without a full pack, but it definitely feels less exciting than a thru-hike where everything is new and you don’t double back. I can say though, that things often look new hiking it from the opposite direction. We are quite spoiled as thru-hikers, and I’ve come to be less tolerant of out and backs over the years, but these have been quite enjoyable. 

We made it to the hut by 6:30pm, and there were few others there. It is where many choose to take a ferry to get out and not walk the 9mi/15km or so along Lake St Clair. We had the camping platform area all to ourselves. We even had a bit of phone service. It is along the Narcissus River, and we heard we might see a platypus on our hike out in the morning. That is the one animal Griggs really wants to see here, so he’s excited about that possibility. I know many are wondering if we will see a Tasmanian devil. We’ve read that they are not as common as they once were as there is a disease of some sort that has reduced the Tasmanian devil population by 80%.  

The weather is great and not as cold or damp as the other nights. Just a morning hike out to the end tomorrow remains. It’s been a great experience along the Overland Track, and we’ve really enjoyed it! What a great way to kick off our month here. 

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