Ronny Creek Car Park-Lake Will
Mileage: 13.6km on track + 3.7km side trips=17.3km/10.7mi
Trip Total: 10.7mi/17.3km
Campsite Elevation: 3512ft/1070m
We woke up early to get the 8am bus to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair Visitor Center. It was a 3.5hr ride on a small van-like bus with about a dozen others. I caved and took a pill for motion sickness hoping it would work. It seems like it did, but I think it made me drowsy, which I don’t like, and I slept a lot of the way. I guess I’ll take drowsy over car sick! The bus dropped us off at the park’s visitor center, where we picked up our permits. Then there was another ~20min shuttle to the Ronny Creek car park, and the start of the 48mi/78km Overland Track. We had lunch before we started, and set off about 1pm.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper trip without me forgetting something important. This time it was my gaiters. I had new ones in my bounce box I meant to grab, and I totally forgot, so I don’t have any gaiters. Of course, out here in Tasmania, mud and leeches are a major thing. Yes, I said leeches! I’m not excited about this aspect of the trip. Apparently, they are minor ones that come off fairly easily. There are tons of suggestions online for removing them like prying them off, burning them, using salt, or just letting them fall off on their own after ~20mins. We’ll see how it goes. The Overland Track is pretty dry at the moment, so I’ll be ok without the gaiters for this week. I had a couple chances to buy some today, but they weren’t the right thing, so I passed. We have decided not to use the full length gaiters in Tasmania, which many fear monger about. We’ve had our share of mud the last few months and think we can tolerate it with the ankle gaiters. It’s the leeches that freak me out though. We’ll see.
We really enjoyed today, and it’s great to be back in Australia. I find it to be so much more relaxing in Australia overall. Some of the hiking we will do will be more challenging while we are here, but it was really relaxing to be able to walk without obstacles and take in the expansive space. The Overland Track is relatively short, and we could complete it in a few days on its own, but it’s the side trips that really make it complete. We have many side trips we hope to hit along the way, so we have a week of food, and are going to play it by ear as we hike to see what weather and timing allows. Today, we did 13km on the OLT and 4km in side trips.
There was boardwalk walking the majority of the day, which is great when the other option would probably be feet sucking mud. It’s nice to have knowing what the alternative is like, and we’ve heard there’s still plenty of mud ahead, so we were thankful that this first day ended with dry feet at least. We hiked up to the popular day hike to Marions Lookout overlooking Dove Lake. There was no lack of people, that’s for sure.
Then the track goes by Cradle Mtn, which is one of the more popular side trips. It took us 1.5hrs round trip with tons of time for photo taking, and it was well worth it. It is deceiving as it seemed like it was going to be quicker, but there was a lot of rock scrambling the second half of the way up.
After Cradle Mtn, it was a cruise the rest of the day on boardwalk with expansive views as we approached Barn Bluff standing out on its own.
We had planned to end at a hut and camp, but then realized that we could hike 1km off on a side trail to Lake Will and have a more secluded experience. I’m so glad we did that! It is nice to have a spot all to ourselves and not be at a large hut with a ton of other people. It’s super peaceful and silent out here. Just perfect. We have Lake Will in front of us and Barn Bluff just to the side.
Temps dropped a good deal when the sun went down, and we did get condensation in our tents pretty quickly, darn. Well worth the price of solitude though. Just after I walked into the brush a bit to take the tent photo, I returned to find my first leech on my shoe! It totally made me squirm! It’s much quicker than I imagined and acts more like a fast worm searching for something to suck on. I got a close up shot if it, but it’s pretty tiny and about the length of a stick of chapstick. It was tricky just to get it off my shoe, so I don’t want to think about removing one that’s already attached to my skin!
As it got dark, we could hear something of size jumping around nearby. I had my doors closed, but Griggs got to see what was either a wallaby or pademelon bounce between our tents. Both look like a cute little mini kangaroo. A great first day!
One side bonus note. Those of you that followed my Te Araroa journal, will recall a hiker named Christophe who had his pack stolen about a month ago and had to come off the trail to work to buy new gear. Many of you donated to help get Christophe new gear, and he’s finally back on trail! He wanted to be sure to thank everyone for being so supportive and sent this photo with his new gear. I will warn you that it’s near impossible to get Christophe to smile in a photo, but he is very happy and excited about this, haha.
He should take 3-4 weeks to finish and the weather should hold for him. I’m excited to see that finish photo, possibly before I leave Tasmania, and I will share that with everyone. I did tell him he might need to smile on that one, haha. Great work everyone!
Oh, yuck – not sure how I would react to those leeches – think I would consider wearing a wet suit when hiking!! Will they get in your tent? Looks like the hiking is great tho – love the wood walkways.
They have shown up randomly. I can tell you more are coming in future posts…
I especially loved the first section of the hike with those gorgeous mountain views and all the crazy flora, wombats and birds. I only got one leech in Tasmania, which I found on my upper lip just as I was dozing off in a hut. Woke me (and everyone else in the room) right up! I never found a leech attached, but had plenty of evidence of their presence while hiking in mainland Australia since they leave itchy round spots. Except for the first day, our Overland Track experience was cold and rainy when we went last April. Even snowed a bit on Pelion East. Definitely needed our gaiters. Still had the most amazing time. Hope your weather holds!
Oh man, on your lip!? We had plenty more you’ll see…
Tasmania is a fantastic place, the pluses far outweigh any minuses, fantastic vistas and little peaks to climb… there’s so much there to explore and get away from it all…
The definitive leach experience is walking along and wondering why your boot has started to make a squelching sound – take boot off and find it is full of blood – the leach has already dropped off and left anti-coagulent in the wound which bleeds and bleeds.
They dislike heat incidentally – if you get one in camp warm water will dislodged them.
Oh so gross! I’ve got a good one coming in a couple days. Let’s say I’ve developed a method for removing many…just flick them quickly before they have a chance to know what hit them. I’ve heard they regurgitate back if you give them any warning and that causes worse skin reactions later.
Are you officially allowed to wild camp? Normally you have to keep with the designated camp grounds. Not liking crowds is one thing, but breaking the rules is another.
As I mentioned, where we camped was marked as camping in the guidebook. Even mentioned it to the ranger the following night and he was approving.
Leaches, Yuck! Just one more reason that hiking in North America will be just fine for me.
Prefer an encounter with a leech over an encounter with a grizzly!
All that cross-country and scrambling you did last year really prepared you for the scrambling you’ve done here. By the smile on your face, it was a walk in the park!!
I noticed your new shoes! Must be awesome.
And Griggs doing that mad-man push up on the rocks. I’m following him on Instagram.
A “perfect” start! …well…except for the leach. ?
Or…I guess that would be “leech” ?