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Precipitous Bluff Trek – December 2012

Par Elcaminoloco

Precipitous Bluff Trek – December 2012

Sunset on Precipitous Bluff and the New River Lagoon

I had 2 weeks off work, and initially planned to go on a climbing trip around Tasmania with my friends. The first two days of this trip were too hard to handle. We went to the Tasman Peninsula rock climbing some hard sport routes, but I was actually not ready to push myself vertically, nor to be around people all the time. I wanted to re-focus on myself, understand what was currently going on in my life and feeling free.

The fun part - DAY 1 Precipitous Bluff Click here for a detailed map

The hike in itself starts from Ida Bay, 20kms north of Crockle Creek, the Southern road in Tasmania. I already got lost driving to find which gravel road to turn on. This was a good start !

The intense bit - Day 2 - 3

The next day turned to what the hike was suppose to be like. Scrub, scrub and scrub; and a tiger snake, or two ! From a distance, it always looks like some parts of the ridges or mountains would be easy to walk through, but this is usually just an illusion. The bush is incredibly dense. So dense that you can't see the track you're walking on, it is only possible to feel it while walking. It is not even possible to reach the ground when falling forward. This scrub can be at knee height, being very spiky and painful when you're a 'stupid french man' like me and decide to wear shorts (but with gaiters though). Well that's part of the fun. It can also be really tall, which makes orientation way harder and therefore it becomes pretty easy to get off route by following a wallaby track. But once past all these obstacles, the hiker is rewarded with the most amazing sceneries it is possible to get on the South West coast I guess. From the top of Pindars Peak, a 360 panorama is offered: the New River Lagoon guarded by Precipitous bluff, waves further south breaking on the sea cliffs and on pure white beaches, and all the mountain range up north for the dreamers. This is truly a spectacular place to be. All the rest of the hike can be pretty much seen from the top of the peak.

This was the last good weather I had. Since the half of the second day, everything started to be miserable, windy, foggy, cold and rainy. I was soaking wet from my feet to my buttock, as well as my upper arms, even despite of my brand new rain jacket. The scrub is so dense that all the water sitting on the spikes, wood or leaves just bounce back and spray on the face to finally slide into the raincoat, pretty nice isn't it. The worst happened on the third day when I actually climbed up to the top of PB. This hike is the kind of one where the hands and arms are almost as important as the legs, using branches to climb up boulders, then scrambling down, pushing the bush on the sides to get through (especially on the Moraine) ... The actual problem is that the hands are facing up most of the time, and the rainwater would just drip from the hands into the sleeves of the rainjacket. I got cold, really cold. My polar jumper was wet, my feet were in constant mud and water, my shorts and undies were soaking wet, my hands skin looked like I had a 2 hours long bath. It got really concerning at some stage, I got so cold I could not unclip the clip of my hiking bag, and when eventually I managed to do so, I just could not open the damn wrap paper of my muesli bar. My fingers were just too frozen, and my body unresponsive. Keep walking was the best way not get seriously in trouble.

The New River Lagoon Wading - Day 4

Joking apart, because the next part of the hike was definitely still not one. The 4 day was by far another big adventurous one. I woke up in better shape than when I went to bed. My arms were as tired as if I would have rock climbed most of the day; just to tell how much scramble there is to do.

  • crossing straight little bays to save couple of meters you will not ! A bad idea this is
  • using the shore and walking on it as much as possible to save time you can
  • when quicksand you feel, panic you shall avoid, and swimming you could

Well regarding the last point, I have to say I didn't fully experiment. I only felt once some quicksand, which I didn't know they were until I was back to Hobart. It happened quite suddenly while I was wading. Within 5 meters, I had water from knee height to my waist, because of an affluent creek I had to across. I thought at the beginning I could just go straight, but the bottom of my bag started to get wet, and nothing inside was in dry bags. When I decided to turn back, my feet were completely stuck in the ground underwater. I just could not move, and the more I would try the deeper I'd sink. I didn't panic at all, I was just confused and tried to figure out what was happening, so I stopped moving. And managed to unstuck myself with the help of my poles. Just a tiny bit scary alone by myself. But I didn't expect this at all, since my friend Lachy told me he always acrossed those creeks by wading through without having to go back in land. I guess these quicksands are very localised and must drift over time.

Memories, they really are awesome ones. The price I had to pay this day was the lost of my water bottle. And although I was walking in a river, this latter was brackish. How funny is that. I knew I would be fine without; I only had another day and a half to go, it wasn't going to be really dangerous, just annoying and not practical. I would just have to find water on the way. I always thought I had a good guard angel with me, and he/she showed up again ! When I arrived at Prion Beach, the boat crossing section for the South Coast Track, I finally met some people. A person told me there were some spare empty water bottles left in a pile of rubbish in the bush. Debris from the sea, fishermen and hikers. This was so improbable, but I found one !

Before a good shower - Day 5

One more day ahead to go. PB was still insight, majestuous, but sadly getting further and further away. Would I go back ? Who knows, but this was an amazing hike. My achilles tendons felt pretty sore for the first time in my life. I must have pushed it a bit, and the last day, I was literally walking like a zombie. My only goal was to arrive on sunday afternoon around 4pm to hitchhike back. I didn't want to arrive the next day on the 31 at Crockle Creek with all the bogans there. I made it, got a lift by 2 fishermen from Dover, who live in Dover, drink in Dover, would do everything in Dover, and had an amazing shower back home.

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