OInce on the plateau the pleasure of mountain hiking overrode our body’s complaints.
Alistair Cheal finds a hike in the Tassie wilderness is just the thing for a headcold.
My wife and I had been laid up for weeks with the flu. We had not exercised and were about to visit Tasmania for a hiking holiday. On the flight to Hobart, Faye and I discussed hikes that might suit our ill prepared bodies. We decided to start with two moderate day hikes, both to lesser known mountain peaks.
Two days later we stood at the trailhead to peak number one. Mt Roland (1233m) is flanked by a fortress-like spread of cliffs that rise precipitously from fertile pastoral lands in northern Tasmania. We still felt unfit and the route through a break in the cliff line looked steep, but we knew that above that bastion lay a gentler plateau. We were doing fine until the trail narrowed and deviated steeply upward though moss and lichen covered forest. Our recovering lungs suffered most and our legs felt too heavy.
However, once on the plateau the pleasure of mountain hiking overrode our body’s complaints. Now the walking was easier, along boardwalks and stony trail through alpine heath before a final scramble over large boulders. We had lunch on the summit, rugged up against the chill air, and enjoyed expansive views north to Bass Strait and inland to snow freckled peaks. Going down should have been easier, but when we reached the car after seven hours on the trail our flu-ravaged bodies were spent. That night we vowed to take it easy the next day; a decision easily justified by forecasts of a bad afternoon storm.
Well, we soon broke that vow. We awoke to clear skies, feeling surprisingly fresh and the lure of peak number two was strong. Mt Campbell (1248m) is an innocuous dome shaped mountain sharing a position above Dove Lake with the iconic Cradle Mountain. Despite this conspicuous location, there was no trail to Mt Campbell on our official Cradle Mountain Day Walk Map. As we trudged high up the flank of Mt Campbell on a vague rocky track occasionally marked with posts, the wind increased and the temperature fell. Serried ranks of white water were now blowing across Dove Lake well below.
The storm front was coming, but the sky above was still clear. Once on the strangely-flat summit plateau we could barely stand against the wind.
No matter, because this exposed place had an intoxicating atmosphere, with views of Cradle Mountain and of distant snowy peaks along the Overland Track. After being alone on such a wild peak it felt incongruous to be back in the busy Dove Lake car park just over an hour later. As we drove away under rapidly darkening skies we marvelled at the restorative powers of hiking; our residual ailments had gone.
Courtesy of Great Walks Magazine, authored by Alistair Cheal.