Overland Track Day 6 – Windy Ridge to Pine Valley

Pine Valley isn’t officially part of the Overland Track but most people on the trail choose to walk there. It’s also a popular destination for one night visits, as it’s close to Cynthia Bay at the end of trail.

The walk to the junction was fairly flat and encased in forest. I walked with a british couple – Greg and Kim – to start with but after the junction that headed off the main trail, I went on alone making better time to the hut, and crossing a pair of suspension bridges on the way.

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On arrival I found the hut was very busy so, for the first time on the hike, I decided to pitch my tent. It was a nice day…why not. Once set up, I stopped for lunch as Annie from NT arrived. She pitched her tent next to mine and together, we decided to climb to a plateau known as the Labyrinth.

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The pair of us followed a vague trail through the tall gloomy rainforest until we came to the hill and began slowly climbing. We climbed up a steep and sometimes slippery rocky stream and across to the other side. The markers then ceased and we climbed through a thin but fairly obvious section of trail that seemed to climb forever. It’s easy to lose your sense of scale on a climb when you’re shrouded in trees. It’s far easier when you can see the top as you go.

We eventually arrive at the plateau and stopped for a break. Behind us, our first views of Lake Saint Clair, the end point of the adventure.

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Fifteen minutes later it began to rain. Yup, the first time I pitch a tent it decides to rain. We donned our rain jackets – which also serve as wind breakers – and continue on across the plateau following the plentiful cairns. The cairns led us deeper into the plateau where there are tales of a lady having gone missing some years earlier. They found her tent and pack, but no sign of her body. The cairns walked us past tarns…

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…and rocky outcrops alongside a ridge line known as the Parthenon. Beyond the ridge a mountain known as The Acropolis which I plan to climb tomorrow if the rain eases overnight.

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We picked our way along and then down into a small valley where the trail split and a sign pointed us either towards Lake Elysia or The Labyrinth Lookout. We headed along the trail towards the lookout and as it began to rain, we climbed the knoll following the cairns, some of them quite elaborately constructed.

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We followed the trail until we came to a giant cairn.

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Which gave good views of the lake and labyrinth.

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The Labyrinth gets its name from the many forested paths running through rocky areas of the plateau where tarns and lakes are scattered. I’m not sure how you could get lost, as simply climbing one of the many smooth rock mounds would give you a good view of the area, although perhaps in low cloud…

And with our own set of low clouds coming in, we decided to head back, although we were both keen to be covered and to pick our way in the gloom, but the clouds were not low enough.

We descended from the plateau slowly on the more slippery track and eventually made it to the bottom.

Tomorrow, as I mentioned, I plan to climb the Acropolis and then walk on to Narsussus hut on the shores of Lake St Clair.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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