Walking in Cradle Mountain National Park

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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What I did
Dove Lake Circuit Trail
Pencil Pine Trail
Cradle Mountain Boardwalk

Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Friday, March 8, 2013

I think I have serious wi-fi withdrawal symptoms now.  It has been a very long time since I have managed an email or a blog entry on-line.  Maybe it should be a priority for tomorrow's accommodation or else I will have to pay....

Doreen and I had a relatively early start and were at the visitor's center to catch the shuttle bus to the end of the line at Dove Lake.  When we started out on the shuttle ride, it was still foggy and the landscape had a mysterious aura about it.  I was hoping we would still have some fog once we got on the trail but by the time we got to the lake, there was no more fog.  How disappointing!  We were going to do the 6 km Dove Lake circuit which is projected to take 2 hrs.  We started on the east side of the lake and were surprised to find uphills - somehow I thought this was one of the wheelchair accessible trails.  I don't think so.  It wasn't too bad but it is always worse when you don't expect the uphills.  The brochure said this walk had a variety of plants and it certainly did.  As we started out we passed through shrubby bushes with spider webs on them.  The webs glistened in the sun.

There were King Billy Pines and Pencil Pines, the Celery Leaf Pines, a whole bunch of heaths which I keep getting confused, tea tree shrubs with pretty five-petaled flowers, the weird pandani that look like agave plants sort of, and, of course, several different kinds of eucalyptus trees.  Oh, no, I almost forgot one of the most important:  the tussocks of buttongrass.  We went through a variety of different landscapes on the path around the lake as we gazed up at Cradle Mountain situated at the end of the lake.  As we went through a shadier section next to rocks, there were more of the Pandanis. 

On the other side of the lake there was a section called the Ballroom where there were more myrtle and other very tall trees as well as the pines and the trees were covered in moss and lichens.  The landscape is almost dominated by huge dead trees with bleached trunks and branches.  Some of the trees are only trunks but I saw one where the trunk was left standing and was surrounded by dead branches lying on the groundcover of buttonwood or the other predominant dark green ground cover that I can't identify now.  The landscape was gorgeous - with its unusual colors - the tall dead trees and the tall living trees.  Even though the plants may not have changed that much, each little change or different organization of detail made the scene photo-worthy.  I couldn't stop taking photos of the trees, shrubs, and the buttongrass.  Walking the trail took us over 3 hrs.  Poor Doreen - she was very patient...

We were both pretty hungry by 12:30 pm.  We got our new cottage - this one has a bed on one end of the living room separated by a curtain that can be drawn across the area and a room off the kitchenette/living room that contains four bunk beds and the bathroom in two parts.  I am now in one of the top bunks because there is more light up here to work.  At some point we got some veggie wraps for lunch that were quite good with raw red and yellow pepper slices, some feta cheese, and pumpkin plus some other things.  The pumpkin was quite sweet and worked well in the wrap.  I bought a bottle of water to replenish my supplies and it cost $4.50.  I think the Australian and US dollars are pretty much the same value.  I can't remember what size it was, but I don't think it was more than a liter.  I was appalled.

After lunch, we did a short hike to the waterfalls on the Pencil Pine Trail (or Rainforest trail) - a 10 minute walk according to the literature.  I don't know how long I made it take but I was happy to sort out the distinction between the King Billies and the Pencils.  After that, I had wanted to try the Cradle Mountain Board Walk.  It goes from the interpretive center to Dove Lake but you can do pieces of it if you like.  Doreen wasn't really into it, but she agreed to try it.  After we had walked 10 minutes or so....most of it uphill....she decided to go back.  I was somewhat obsessed with the idea now so I plodded on.  I shouldn't say that really because even though my steps uphill might have been plodding, my heart was singing because the landscapes are so stunning.  Much of this first section of the boardwalk is through the moorlands with the buttongrass and the other ground cover and I just love how the rounded tufts look.  I took even more photos than before on the earlier walks.

In addition to seeing and trying to identify the plants from my little guide, I kept an eye out for the wombat territorial markings.  It was quite amusing to see the little piles on each step as you walked up a little set of stairs or along the side of a length of boardwalk.  There were turds along the side of the boardwalk where they fell off or maybe were pushed off and there was stuff mashed onto the surface of the boardwalk.  In a few different places, I found another smaller scat that Doreen thinks might be from a wallaby or pademelon like we saw yesterday.  I forgot from days ago to write about Doreen finding the fairy penguin dead on the beach in George Town.  Enough of dead animals and scat. 

There were a few detours with boardwalk sections going off to the side.  I don't think I remember seeing signs about where they were going.  I saw an indentation to my left that I thought was probably a stream so when a boardwalk went off in that direction, I followed it and found the stream.  It was lovely with its brown tannic water, big rocks and little ripples as it headed on its way downstream.  I waited for the platypus to come out, but s/he didn't.  I took some photos of a tiny purple-flowered plant, maybe an orchid, and then rejoined the main boardwalk. 

After a bit there was another detour.  I wondered if I should check it out and looked at my watch.  It was 4:45 pm and I had started around 3 pm on what was listed as an hour walk.  Now I was a little worried because the shuttle buses stop running as frequently and the last pick-up was at 5:30.  So I skipped this detour and almost put away my camera.  In fact, I don't think I took any more photos until I was almost at Snake Hill - my pick-up point.  I waited a few minutes and a shuttle bus pulled up.  It was the same man as earlier today and he was a jokester.   One of the passengers had previously asked him "what kind" something was and the driver had replied that these were the same as the ones on the left....because he didn't want to be wrong.  Then the driver told us about the Pepper tree and the beneficial properties of the berries and how he had eaten one and what the effects were - not too good but it cleared his sinuses.  He was in top form - maybe because it was the last trip of the day for him.

The shuttle stopped at the Visitors Center and I walked back to the cabin/cottage.  I hadn't realized how much uphill walking was required.  More than I had really wanted.  But I did get to walk by the gate without having to enter the code numbers.  Doreen and I haven't had good luck with them.  I made it back, joined Doreen to sit outdoors and have our beers.  While we were out there in front of our cabin, Doreen spotted a pademelon next to the side of the cabin.  A wonderful cap to the day.  We did go out in search of dinner thinking we would check out one of the stores but they were all closed.  We managed to get to the Cradle Mountain Cafe just before they closed and order a take-out pizza.  We had the Tasmanian mushroom pizza with mushrooms, spinach and carmelized onions.  Quite tasty.  After that, we watched some British celebrity quiz show that was very funny where I found out that quartz is formed from silica that comes from sponges.  The original sea animal sponges.

A quick shower, a quick bed-making effort, no real management of all my stuff since I had to remove the contents of my daypack to use it as a daypack.  Now I have to find my bifocal glasses case because I wore my glasses after removing the case from the pack to lighten it for the afternoon walk.  Hmmm, I can't remember where I put it at all....one of those special places you think you will remember.  Now to some photo uploading.  Oh, oh, I left my watch in with my toothbrush, but I will need it to know when to go to bed and when to get up.  I was hoping not to have to get down unnecessarily from here.

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