As previously mentioned, Tasmania suffered from some of the heaviest rainfall in recorded history over the last winter, this also meant that it suffered from substantial flooding. One of the more popular roads for accessing places like The Walls of Jerusalem, Lee's Paddocks, and The Arm River Track (Mersey Forest Road) was cut off at multiple points.
I parked my car as far up the road as I could drive (the turn off to Devils Gullet), and grabbed my mountain bike off the roof of the car. I had to ride about 25km to the start of The Arm River Track, traversing 2 large wash outs and many fallen trees. On the way in I passed several trucks and diggers starting to patch up the road, which is a very promising sight! The ride took just over 3 hours and I was glad finally reach the now very disused car park and start walking. The walk into Pelion Plains took a bit under 3 hours and was harder than I've ever experienced up that track due to the overgrowth and fallen trees. When I reached Pelion I bumped into Nick and Bert who were leading an Overland trip with Cradle Huts, so we organised a catch up later that night and went our separate ways. While watching a helicopter land to fly out the contents of the drop-dunny, I had some lunch at the hut and rested for an hour before getting my day-pack together for a walk up Mt Oakleigh.
I had never been up Oakleigh, despite spending dozens of nights at Pelion and it being so close and easy to get up! The walk started out on new duck-board over some deep swampy button grass before moving in to the tree line beneath the mountain. Pushing steadily up through some beautiful rainforest, after 45 minutes the track pops out into classic Tasmanian alpine terrain, Scoparia, Hakea, and dolorite boulders. The track then headed west in an abrupt dogleg and leads towards the iconic spires close to the summit. A beautiful point to survey the Overland mountains, but not quite the true summit which is about 10 minutes north over very low and thin scrub. The true summit does have a nice view, but it isn't quite as beautiful as the jagged spires earlier on. I spent close to an hour on the summit before heading back to the hut for dinner and a catch up with Bert and Nick, followed by a good night sleep under the stars on the helipad.
|A gate across an iconic road.|
|Here is the first reason for that gate.|
|... And another good reason.|
|10km in, 15km to go!|
|Pelion West on approach through Pelion Plains.|
|Helicopter with Barn Bluff in the background.|
|On the way up to Oakleigh.|
|The spires near the summit. What a view!|
|The true summit, looking towards the Pelion West Traverse.|
Such a beautiful morning to wake up to in the reserve! I had breakfast and packed my things, prepared to do the Pelion West traverse. I walked back up the Overland for 15 minutes til I hit the subtle but distinctive turn off for the track up to Mt Thetis. I walked up there for about an hour and hit a beautiful patch up coral fern, surrounded by a stunning view! I sat down, feeling like shit. I had a predicament, one that I knew was brewing for a little while but didn't want to acknowledge. I felt like I was about to do this iconic traverse because it was a chore, I had to do it. I didn't want to create memories up in this place, all the while feeling like I wasn't doing it for the right reason. The last thing I want is for my hobby and passion to become a task. So after half an hour of contemplation, I turned back and started the long trip back to my car.
In reflection, I am glad I chose to do that. I know it's not the right attitude if I want to achieve the goal of climbing all the Abels in a short period, but I would rather enjoy the challenge for climbing them all eventually, than achieve the challenge of a fast round while feeling tasked to it.
I look forward to doing the Pelion West Traverse very much. It is stunning up there.