Notes from a sneaky mid-weeky overnighter in Lutruwita/Tasmania's oldest National Park: The glorious Mount Field NP.
Day 1. The first day was wet. Not violent rain or storm-blown sleet, just thick, persistent drizzle that soaked our gear before we had a chance to take it seriously. But the bush danced as the moisture transformed the pale snow gum bark to a tapestry of rainbow flesh.

We left the gums and the relatively sheltered eastern slope and walked out onto a duckboard track littered with missing planks that threatened to swallow our feet and snap our shin-bones before we’d even got started.
Forty-five minutes in and the track turns upwards, a jumble of boulders, shadows sheltering the remnants of last night’s snow. Slow going in the wet but we were buoyed by the sense of adventure that arises from any walk that requires the use of your hands. Up, up into the clouds along a ridgeline made by the tantrum hands of some toddler god. Eons ago, boulders thrown and scattered like discarded toy blocks. Their resting place formed a gully to follow along the ridgeline, sealed in by the hovering fog. We felt small there, funnelled into that space populated by such imposing rocks.

Wet, claustrophobic waterlogged air. No view, which can be pleasant if you can stop to admire the smaller details or rest for lunch, but in this case the cold was in our bones and we craved a marker that would indicate our whereabouts on the map.
More rocks. Scree as far as we can see. Tipping us down the mountain’s side until they tumbled to a stop and we rejoiced to find a track, winding through glorious cushion plant gardens, collecting the water until it became a stream in which we walked.

Quick steps now. Sheets of rain hurrying us along until our chosen campsite appeared to the left. We gave thanks for a tent that we knew would offer safe haven with its taut nylon shell no match for the wind. Cold hands attempting to plunge aluminium pegs into soft soil. The spongey surface merely a thin layer above the hard dolerite bones that refused to accept the intrusion.
Finally, with our tent set up and our packet meals heated, hydrated and consumed we lay in our bags to warm our bodies. Cold hands protruding from our down-cocoons to turn the pages of our books until we slept.
Day 2.
We woke on the edge of a tarn, our bright yellow tent glowing in a landscape dulled by the thick sheets of mist from the west. Soon though, an orb of light appeared on the tarn’s surface, a sign that the sun above was burning its way through the water-soaked air. We felt its warmth on our faces as light refracted through the billions of droplets surrounding us to form an arch of light, paler than a rainbow, that stretched through the sky above our tent. And there it stayed for the next hour, a sign to take the morning slow. Feet in warm sleeping bags. Hot coffee in coloured plastic mugs steeped in childhood memories.
After breaking camp, we walked across the saddle, which to us was imagined as a vast plateau, due to the mist obscuring any variation in the landscape beyond a few dozen metres. Soon though, wind sucked the last of the moisture from the air and revealed great glacial valleys on either side of the track that plunged into alpine lakes below.⁠
A small flock of currawongs took flight as I wandered to the cliff's edge to admire the view. Swift black shadows against the sun-bleached cloud.⁠

Further on, mangled figures appeared and watched us pass. I bowed my head towards their bleached white skeletons on the cliff’s edge, but kept walking, eyes set on a section of the track ahead as if to say, “don’t mind me, I’ll be out of your way shortly.” I felt there was madness in those limbs; more horned beast than curled branch. Silent apparitions keeping watch.

Soon, cloud cleared and the track wound through alpine tarns as clear as glass, soft ripples on their surface failing to unsettle the most fragile of silt below.
The world around us was now alight with sparkling droplets, reflecting like stars from the sea of alpine grass at our feet. Here we spent more time admiring these vast miniature worlds that populated either side of the duckboard than acknowledging the views of distant mountain ranges beyond. The track now turned to a field of scree that ran into dusty silver meadows of pineapple grass that crashed against the surrounding boulders and the tangled trunks of chestnut pine.

We followed the poles and cairns that directed us to a washed-out staircase of jumbled rock and planks, making our way down into a landscape populated by pencil pine, pandani and the orange glow of the last remaining Fagus. 
This landscape, now populated by an array of beautiful plants, was created by forces that the mind cannot comprehend. Giant glaciers moving through the landscape, scouring the earth, scraping bedrock into steep walls and leaving the amphitheatre in which we admire the reflections in a shimmering chain of tarns.

What an honour to see this burst of colour before the winter winds completely strip the leaves from the trees and turn once green, yellow and gold tanglefoot stands into gloomy patches that seem to suck the life from the surrounding slopes.
The last section of the walk, while shorter when viewed on the map, seemed to stretch out until we felt as though the carpark where we’d left our car had somehow tumbled further down the mountain towards the sea. Despite time stretching before us, we did indeed make it to our car to put on fresh clothes and turn the heater to 11. 

From there we drove home, just in time for dinner. (Pizza, if you were wondering…)
Mostly shot on Kodak Portra 400 and FujiFilm 400, April 2024. 
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