Before I start, if you are after a day by day account, you wont find that here. There are much better sites that list out what to see and expect from experts like the daily walk notes on the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service website or the many great blogs out there. What I wanted to share was just how bloody difficult it was, what I experienced and why I would do it again in a heartbeat.
My other half and I completed the 80km walk over 7 days, 6 nights, we had hot days, freezing cold days, lots of rain and even sleet and covered some of the most diverse terrain and pristine forests in the world.
While I learnt a lot about multi-day hiking on this track, here’s four key things I experienced.
- Packing your backpack is a dark art and while I have improved my technique, I still am clueless.
I’ve walked with a daypack in guided multi-day hikes before, but never had I embarked on an unguided walk where you carry everything in, tent, food, cooking utensils, water, clothes, medical etc. I looked online for help and the good people at Paddy Pallin in Launceston provided guidance as I was getting my new Osprey bag fitted (I had bought a cheaper pack a few months earlier but after a test run it was a no go), but in the end after a few kilometres of carrying at 16kg pack you start getting sore, then pressure points start to develop like my left shoulder and left hip. Even when the pack got lighter over subsequent days, as you get through your food, its too late, the aches have well and truly set in. You try and pack and repack each day thinking you have the winning formula this time but 30 minutes in and you realise it’s going to hurt.
2. It’s hard to take in the immense beauty surrounding you when you’re concentrating on not tripping.
Day 1 was the toughest for me, my body was screaming as we ascended higher and higher up Cradle Mountain and if I stopped my legs would go into painful cramps that caused me to walk like a LEGO man for the next 15mins. Honestly each day I walked all I could think about was getting to the next destination. There could be a family of Tasmanian Tigers standing a few metres away and I wouldn’t have noticed as I was concentrating on placing my foot in a way that I wont twist or break some part of my body (and yes, they are extinct). But after day three, I did remember to stop more, take a look around and breathe in as the body understands the torture you are going to inflict with the pack, or the tree root that is looking to trip you up, and somehow it is ok to keep going.
3. You can’t stop thinking about all the delicious meals you are going to devour after you finish the trek.
This is a guaranteed way to put on the kilos/pounds you lost on the trek. But it’s also what got me through. I was so sick of eating the dehydrated meals by day three that I dreamed of a fresh apple, or a salad, a baked salmon dinner…the list was endless and something we talked about with fellow trekkers ALOT. One thing I would do next time is pack a few more fresh foods that are easy to consume, will keep for a few days and lighten the backpack once finished, like apples, wraps, cream cheese, tomatoes – and chocolate.
4. Finding mindfulness while your body is under duress is really hard, but not impossible.
Isn’t that what they say about yoga? The goal is to find mindfulness while in an uncomfortable pose. The first three days was really a battle with the mind (at least that was my experience), getting you in the zone of pack walking and just putting one foot in front of the other till you reach your destination. But then there is a subtle shift in thought… you know the distances by now and can break it down in your head to manageable chunks, so I started to stop more, take more deep breaths, be more aware of my surroundings and there was sometimes such majestic breath-taking beauty where it was just you with nature that it made it easier to find that inner yogi.
I reached the end of the walk with a wet heavy backpack, extremely sore shoulder and knee, but feeling exhilarated rather than exhausted, with a new found love of hiking because of the peace it does bring to my being, thinking it would be great to do it again, and as we travel I keep my eye out for more walks I can add to the bucket list.