Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Around Cradle Mountain Tasmania - Part 2: Waterfall Valley to Lake Rodway

Well, the overnight storm we encountered was indeed an ominous sign. We woke up to torrential rain. We packed up inside the little tent as much as possible and then legged it to the hut for breakfast.

Morning Rain

After a dodgy cup of instant cappuccino it was time to don our wet weather gear and get amongst it.

Not looking forward to getting out there

Donning the wet weather gear

With the weather looking set in, we had a vague plan to try to make it all the way back to Dove Lake where a free courtesy bus could take us to our car which could take us to somewhere dry and warm. Our intended route would take us back up the escarpment that we had descended the previous day, around the eastern side of Cradle Mountain to Lake Rodway and Scott-Kilvert Hut and then to Hanson’s Peak and Dove Lake.

Setting off the weather was shocking, I can’t imagine rain getting any heavier. We climbed up the escarpment where a strong wind was also added to the mix.

This pretty much sums up the weather on the escarpment on the southern side of Cradle Mountain

We reached the turn to Scott-Kilvert Hut and began the descent to Lake Rodway. The temperature had been dropping fairly rapidly over the previous hour and the rain had become a lovely sleet.

Still happy at this stage, our gear was holding up well as the rain turned to sleet

As we continued our descent the weather got progressively worse. The sleet was now full blown puking snow. The surface water runoff from the rain was also taking the path of least resistance down the trail making for wet and cold walking conditions.

Nearly snow

Snow, bush and a very wet trail

Dodgy frame grab but you get the idea, very wet and snowy

Despite our uber expensive wet weather gear, it wasn't long before we were saturated. My jacket was keeping me dry but water was running in through the sleeves and from my face. My feet were also wet from the endless streams and mud. There was so much water around that on a few occasions the boardwalks were being overtopped by the streams they were installed to traverse.

Water freely flowing over the boardwalk at this little stream

Despite only being on the track for around two and half hours, we were starting to get cold and were hanging out for Scott-Kilvert Hut. It was hard to imagine a hut being able to be built in the thick vegetation, but sure enough, after a little more time in the weather there it was.

Arriving at Scott-Kilvert Hut

We had lunch and some chocolate, rung out our socks and got back on the trail hoping to make it back to the car and that warm hotel room that we were dreaming about. However, after about ten minutes on the trail we were both shivering having cooled down while breaking for lunch. We had a quick discussion and decided our best option would be to head back to the hut for the night. The warm room would have to wait another day.

Back at the hut I quickly got the fire going and it wasn’t long before all our wet gear was hanging up and we were warming up enjoying a nice cup of tea sitting in our warm and dry down jackets. We spent the afternoon hanging out in the hut reading and eating more chocolate.

Happy and warm

The hut was built following the awful death in a blizzard of two young men in 1965. David Kilvert had been injured and was being carried by his teacher, Ewan Scott. Tragically they both died of exposure. With the nasty weather, and the cold and wetness we had experienced, I can imagine how fast it would be possible to get into trouble in the area. We were thankful for the foresight of the builders of the hut, built in honour of the two young men, as we warmed our cold bodies by the fire.

Plenty of room for cold and weary travellers

The upstairs sleeping area

The afternoon wore on, we had dried most of our gear and were wondering if we would be sharing the hut with anyone for the evening. As it began to get dark, we heard some action at the front door. A couple of guide looking fellas came in and told us we would soon be sharing the hut with seven 15 year olds and the two guides. The group had left Dove Lake earlier in the day and were in a similar state to we were a few hours earlier, wet and freezing. Soon enough they were in their warm clothes and the fire was now drying the clothes of 11 people. The kids were all very friendly and well behaved and were soon laughing and recounting their journey with an apprehensive excitement.

It was completely dark and we were all pretty warm and settled around the fire when two wet and freezing French backpackers burst through the door. These two, a guy and girl, had left Dove Lake even later than the school group. The girl had had a fall at some stage and had a very swollen hand. Like the rest of us they stripped off, hung up their wet gear and settled in around the fire to warm up. I felt a bit sorry for them. This was the first day of their Overland Track journey, they were in trainers, had no sleeping pads, no matches even, and all their gear, including their sleeping bags were saturated. I hope they made it to the end of the track with no further issues.

We all crashed pretty early. Holly and I were very cosy in our nice warm down sleeping bags. Adventures from day 3 to follow!

Fire is good for the soul, a primitive pleasure


  1. Great read mate! Typical Tassie by the sound of it!

  2. Wow, what an adventure! Good thing for the hut. Yep, I've hiked in the rain many times, and after awhile even the best rain gear doesn't help. Good call to stop early and seek shelter.

  3. Hey Darren, I'd always heard Tassie was a wild place but had no idea just how crazy it could get. It was certainly an adventure.

    Linda, the hut, and particularly its fire was very welcome! would not have been much fun pushing on.

  4. Amazing post Tom - I feel like I'm there! The photos are amaaaazing! It sounds like a trip you will always remember!

    Dave G at work has warned me of the snap changes in weather and that it will probably snow while we are there over NYE! I've bought new boots (old ones arent as water proof as they once were), heavy duty sleeping bag liners, new ultralite air matresses, new gloves and all new socks. Can't wait to get over there!

  5. Hey Kate, sounds like you are all good to go. Definitely expect torrential rain and most probably snow also!

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