Thursday January 7, 2017
Day 1-Overland Track: Ronnys Creek to Waterfall Valley via Cradle Mountain summit, 15km
We were so keen to get going we were an hour early for the first shuttle bus into the park. The bus dropped us off at 8.30am, about 7km into the park at the start of the Overland Track at Ronnys Creek. The sun was shining, the air was cool, perfect hiking weather. We skipped out of there with wings on our feet. We were a little surprised that we were the only hikers heading out. The Permit system allows a maximum of 60 people to start on the Track each day so we thought some more other hikers would be starting with us. There were quite a few day hikers out to walk to the summit of Cradle Mountain.
The early part of the walk was fairly flat following a creek and then along Crater Lake before gradually rising up towards Marions Lookout. This was the first opportunity to look back towards the Cradle Mountain valley and see it’s size and the scale of Dove Lake which we walked around yesterday. From here the trail continued to rise and we reached Kitchen hut and our first side trip off the trail, a walk up to the summit of Cradle Mountain. We left our packs at the hut and took a day pack for what looked like a tough uphill hike. The uphill hiking soon gave way to scrambling on boulders on all fours before progressing to rock boulder climbing on an almost vertical face. At this point my fear of heights was fully challenged and I chose to stop. I sat on a rock ledge perched up over the valley enjoying the view while Hammer scooted off to reach the summit. In the back of my mind was a niggling worry about how I was going to get off this mountain. Quite a few day hikers turned around at this section. Hammer thought the 360 degree views from the summit were sensational. Surprising to see so many glacial lakes were dotted through the park.
The descent off the mountain turned out to be not so bad. The rest of the hike was through undulating terrain, walking mainly on timber boardwalks. The whole hike took much longer then the distance would suggest it should take. The scenery was so stunning. The open meadows covered in bronze green shimmering leaves of buttongrass with the backdrop of the majestic peaks of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff. I could not help myself, I was constantly stopping to take photos. Everywhere I looked was so gobsmackingly beautiful.
We camped at Waterfall Valley. A beautiful bowl shaped valley fringed by rocky escarpments which during rain are covered in cascading waterfalls. The weather today was fantastic, blue sky all day with a cool breeze. And it is predicted to stay warm for the next 5 days. This area is notorious for wet and cold conditions. We are feeling especially blessed.