Tuesday, 31 January 2017
We packed up, put on all our rain gear and started heading back to Lake Vera by about 9.30am. Despite the rain, retracing our steps was a lot more enjoyable. Knowing what we had in front of us made it all so much easier - the problem with the day before was the divide between expectation and reality. By the time we made it to Barron Pass the rain had mostly cleared although the track was still a bit wet and slippery.
Even in the rain, that track was beautiful
Why the track was such slow going!
We carefully descended to Lake Vera and made it to the hut by about 1.30. We had already decided to continue on to a camping site by the Lodden River that we had passed on the first day - which would mean we’d just have a 5k walk on the last day. So after a leisurely lunch at Vera hut we saddled up and continued on, with the weather progressively clearing along the way. We reached the swing bridge at Lodden River by about 5pm.
We awoke to blue skies and a perfect day - it would have been a great day to be on the summit but we couldn’t complain - we had an almost perfect day ourselves. Instead we had a pretty easy 2 hour walk back to the cars and home.
Crossing the Franklin on the swing bridge - 10 minutes from the cars
All in all it was a great trip. We were pretty proud of ourselves and 12 year old Leo did amazingly well - he toughed it out from start to finish with almost zero grumbling. I'm not sure Zali or Jett would have had the strength to get up and down Barron Pass, even though they've done the Overland Track - it was so much more steep and rugged than anything the Overland threw at us. Some people choose to tackle the summit by leaving all their gear at Lake Vera, and doing a really long day trip up and over the pass, to Tahune Lake, then up to the summit and back. Whilst it's a long day, you don't have the burden of your pack for the long climb. As Tahune wasn't all that great a place to camp, I'd probably consider doing it that way if I ever did it again. It's the way Clare did it many years ago and she's adamant that it was a lot easier that way.
In terms of gear, everything we had was pretty good - my hiking pack has an annoying squeak I need to investigate further, but my new thermarest was amazingly good - even when we were sleeping on a camping platform - I'm so happy to finally be comfortable in a tent again! Also it weighs a fraction of my old one and takes up much less space in my pack. yay. I probably needed to pack a few more t-shirts and another pair of trousers as I just sweated buckets. I wore new daggy gaters the whole way and they were bloody great - keeping the mud out of my shoes and saving my trousers from the worst of it. As we descended Barron Pass on day 3, we encountered a family of people struggling up the hill wearing running shoes, tracksuits and cotton t-shirts. Amazingly dumb. They weren't carrying tents either, which they were probably going to get away with as there were less people coming in than were going out, but they were certainly taking a big risk - the huts quickly fill up on busy weekends and in bad weather.
Our food preparations turned out to be pretty good, the cup-a-soups I had at the end of each day were my favourite things, and my new found love for Jersey Caramels as a quick trail snack is enduring. We had pretty much the same dinner menu as on the overland track, satay noodles, pasta and marakesh curry - all with the vegetables I'd been deydrating over the previous few weeks.
And that's it - today I have to prepare myself for another trip to the wilderness - this time to Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair as we are dropping Jon of at the start of the Overland Track Run - it's been 4 years in the making!