Landscape photography and hiking are both loves of mine and I can't think of too many things I'd rather be doing than plodding through the great outdoors in pursuit of a potentially breathtaking image in a remote location. This blog post includes photography taken during a bushwalking trip through part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania along with a brief outline of the hike, I hope you enjoy the images and description as much as I enjoyed the trip!
Late March 2016 saw three friends disappear into the wilderness of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in central Tasmania to traverse the Ducane Range. A first attempt made several years previously was ultimately doomed when the weather Gods turned, so prayers were made and sacrifices offered for success this time around.
So the caravan was dragged home on the morning of Easter Tuesday after a family camping expedition on the Tasman Peninsula followed by a rushed packing job for the hiking trip and three hour drive to the drop off at Derwent Bridge. Jamie and Martin arrived at the designated meeting point and a final supper was had before heading to Lake King William to find a campsite in the dark. The light of day next morning revealed just how much of an effect the recent dry was having on the State's water storages.
Lake King WilliamLake King William in drought Photograph 1
Lake King William in drought
Day one of the walk dawned with a sick Pajero - an oversight in the bed down procedure of the previous night had resulted in an over zealous interior light almost flattening our trip prospects along with the car battery. No other signs of life could be found so again prayers were made and mercifully answered by a Saviour in the form of the local mechanic who had us back on the road in time to make the first ferry up Lake St Clair. Some kayakers on the lake provided an interesting landscape with the world class accommodation of Pumphouse Point in the background.
Serene kayaking with Pumphouse Point and The Traveller Range backdrop
After arriving at Narcissus Bay we stomped off along the Overland Track as far as the turn off to the Labyrinth and then to Pine Valley Hut for lunch. The plod along this section of the track consists of eucalyptus forest which changes fairly rapidly to wet rainforest when heading west and is broken up by occasional glimpses of mountains through the limited patches of open vegetation.
Junction of the Overland and Pine Valley tracks
Gnarly tree on the way to Pine Valley
The track turned somewhat nasty after lunch, dragging us straight up and into the Labyrinth which is a beautiful area of remote alpine lakes surrounded by dramatic mountains. The vegetation opens and becomes distinctly alpine once the escarpment is reached and the vista is considerably more photo friendly for landscape lovers. The route winds through the beautiful lakes with peaks crammed in on all sides and the camera spent considerable time out of the bag through this section.
Mt ErosMount Eros from The Laybrinth Photograph 5
Mt Eros from the track through The Labyrinth
Mt Geryon from the southern part of The Labyrinth
Looking south to The Minotaur and Mt Gould from The Labyrinth
The day finished once we reached our campsite at the Pool of Memories at the northern end of the Labyrinth. Our second time camping at this spot did nothing to diminish the awe experienced when gazing across the Pool at Mt Geryon while the sunset worked its magic.
Pool of Memories camp looking to Mt Geryon
Spider web on Fagus
Fagus reflections at The Pool of Memories
Last light on Mt Geryon
Overnight the rain set in dampening expectations but not our enthusiasm. After considerable discussion over a brew or two we decided that once again discretion was the better part of valour and that our goal would be thwarted as we did not have enough days up our sleeve to soak up the wet weather prior to continuing with the planned route. Instead we used the second day to climb up into the cloud and push through the rain with an obscured Mt Geryon as target. We followed the lightly used pad most of the way to the northern summit but were unable (again) to complete our objective due to the descent and ascent of the final cleft being deemed too treacherous with wet rocks in nil visibility. The clouds partially cleared on the descent allowing for some excellent views to the south and photographic opportunities through the mist.
High country vegetation battling the elements
Misty Pine ValleyWild flowers and Pine Valley mist Photograph 14
Looking into a misty Pine Valley from the Ducane Range
Wildflowers and WildernessWildflowers and Mt Geryon Photograph 15
Wildflowers, Mt Geryon and the Acropolis
A second night was had at the Pool of Memories before breaking camp and heading back out the way we'd come under high cloud and threatening conditions. Lunch at Pine Valley Hut was followed by a successful ascent of The Acropolis with the reward being magnificent views to the south showcasing the peaks forming the southern part of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park and to the north framing the immense beauty of the Ducane Range only a stone's throw away. The last section of the track to the summit is a nice challenge and could be considered a bit of a handful in adverse conditions. The return to our lodgings at Pine Valley was completed at a far more leisurely pace taking in the atmosphere and life of the rainforest. Its always interesting when first meeting people after a few days of isolation and this evening was no different, getting to know our fellow roomies who had converged on this little hut in the wilderness from far away lands.
Sunrising behind Mt Geryon
Creek crossing in Pine Valley
Track blaze and colourful fungus
Rainforest vegetation in Pine Valley
Toadies hanging out in Pine Valley
Southern VistaView from The Acropolis looking south Photograph 22
The southern peaks of the reserve and Lake St Clair from the summit of the Acropolis
The Ducane RangeThe Ducane Range From The Acropolis Photograph 23
The Ducane Range from the Acropolis summit
Mt Gould from Pine Valley
Pine Valley Hut
The trek back to the jetty at Narcissus Bay was completed the next morning in similar conditions to the previous two days. Lunch at the hut was spent discussing the Overland Track exploits of several groups of walkers gathered there waiting for the ferry to complete their journey. Once back at Cynthia Bay the Pajero didn't disappoint a second time and an uneventful road trip back to civilisation followed. Although the weather didn't deliver what we'd hoped and we failed to complete our goal for the second time this was an immensely rewarding hike spent in the company of two top blokes.
Bring on round 3.......
Mt Olympus and Mt Byron on the way out
Narcissus Hut CarnageHikers' packs at Narcissus Hut Photograph 27
Carnage at Narcissus Hut