Winter hiking in Tasmania is an unforgettable adventure experience.
Hiking in Tasmania during winter is such an amazing and special experience, and one week after our adventure began, I still cannot believe I did The Overland Track in winter. When my friend Michael invited me to go hiking in Tasmania and take on The Overland Track Winter Trek, also known as The “Tassie Tuff'”, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. With much trepidation, I packed my backpack and sleeping bag (both borrowed) as I didn’t own such things, and off I went to Launceston for two days of preparation with the Peak Potential Adventures team. After their careful analysis of the contents of my backpack (I can’t believe they made me take out my coffee machine and makeup bag), my pack weighed in at 15 kilos and armed with everything I needed for 6 days in the wilderness – rehydrated mince sachets; baby wipes; sunscreen; 2 minutes noodles and about 3 kilos of chocolate. I was ready to go. We met the other group members before we left and bonded over a beer and a burger on the eve of our departure.
The Tasmanian adventure starts
Up bright and early on Sunday morning, Darren Wise and Shane Pophfer (Peak Potential Adventure guides and former Paratroopers), myself, and 4 strong fit men boarded the bus to begin The Overland Track adventure. I cannot lie; I had moments of reflection on my decision, wondering how I would keep up because I’d never done much hiking before, let alone hiking in Tasmania during the winter period. I knew this would be the challenge of a lifetime, but there was no turning back now.
And then the magic began. After a short ferry ride and with absolutely no expectations of what lay ahead, we headed off to reach the first cabin (about a 4-hour walk). The terrain on The Overland Track was a combination of mud, snow and slippery tree stumps (not for the faint-hearted, I thought). At a cracking pace, we made it just before nightfall, and I can’t believe how much I was looking forward to rehydrated mince and freeze-dried peas.
Day 1 was tough, and hiking in Tasmania in winter has its challenges, but it was all incredibly new and a bit daunting. On day 2 we were up early and on our way for another full day of climbing. This was a tough day, but Darren and Shane made sure we had frequent stops to rehydrate and take in the view. It was spectacular. On day 3, we got our groove on, and things really started to fall into place. The scenery was breathtaking. Each day threw up new challenges; Day 3 was 6 hours of walking through knee-deep snow and ankle-deep mud, but the enchanted rain forests and the incredible mountains we were passing kept us awe-inspired and motivated. The rest day at Pelion Hut was much appreciated as we had additional food bought in and the fruit cake and custard Shane and Darren organised was like all our Christmases had come at once.
I couldn’t help but think they were sweetening us up for what was yet to come, and I may have been right, but as we got used to the terrain and the weight of the backpacks, we all seemed to take each day’s new challenge, as it presented itself. The good humour of the group also went a long way to get us through.
We finally made it on our last day after 17 km of more snow, steep inclines, mud and rocks (and even more spectacular scenery). We had conquered The Overland Track in winter, and I could not have been more proud of myself and my team. Hiking in Tasmania is some of the best in the world because of the pristine national parks, given that the Overland Track is A World Heritage Protected Area. Many people trek The Overland Track during the normal season, but for me, the winter trek brought out the essence and the real beauty of The Overland Track and best of all, it was quiet with very few trekkers on the track. This is definitely one of the best hikes in Tasmania and perhaps even Australia.
A Tasmanian wilderness adventure of a lifetime
There is no way I could have done this without the incredible support of Darren and Shane. Shane for his incredible kindness; patience; sincerity, and calm soulful demeanour (and his incredibly funny and entertaining stories), and Darren for his professionalism and unconditional focus and commitment to the comfort, safety and wellness of each member of the team. Micky, Conrad, Matthew and Chris were all amazing team members whose sense of humour, kindness and protection of me helped to get me through. It was a tough challenge, but I am so glad I did it, and I will be looking at doing some more hiking in Tasmania on some other adventure that the Peak Potential Adventures team are putting together, like the Three Capes Track adventure. These fond memories will stay with me forever. Thank you, Shane and Darren. You amazed me every day, and I cannot wait for our next adventure together.