During the night in the hut, the guides told us that we would need to make a decision about whether to continue the hike or not. Since the next group that would start the day after us would need to stay in the first hut, anybody from our group who continued would need to walk the 4 km to the first hut and then the extra 12 km to the second hut. Robin an I had already decided that we would be going back down the mountainside.
At first light I decided to be first in line to visit the bathroom which was in a small hut about a hundred yards from the main hut. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with no wind.
Cradle Mountain. It was quite invisible the afternoon before.
Robin discovered an apple which she ate for breakfast. Needless to say, we did not settle down to a multi-course delicious breakfast. However we did get a cup of hot tea or coffee which was most welcome. Most of us had only got a few minutes sleep during the night. Already the clouds were starting to build up again.
We all made our decisions about going forward or back. The forecast for the high plateau was for more of the same bad weather later in the day and for some of the following days as well. Most of the steep climbing had been completed on the first day but the prospect of long hard slogs through the clouds was daunting.
Four of our group decided to continue along with our two guides. The other five of us would return to the start and be guided down the mountain by the guides who brought up the sleeping bags during the night.
The hut. It doesn't look like much but it was a life saver.
Heather's photo of the hut.
After saying goodbye to our guides and the four intrepid souls who were continuing the trek, we set off down the mountain. It was so much easier than the day before, but the weather was so much nicer and we could see the track and duck-boards so we were not constantly falling over.
Barn Bluff off in the distance. If the walk had gone according to plan we would have stayed in a luxurious hut near the Bluff.
The temperature had warmed considerably which had melted a lot of the snow.
The duck-boards are easily visible and easy to walk on.
Curious snow patterns, probably caused by the strong winds the day before.
This time when we got to Marions Lookout, there were great views and not much wind.
Crater Lake with the reflection of the mountain.
Descending the hill with the chain was not too difficult though care was needed. The biggest problem with a descent down a mountain side is the shock to your knees from constantly going down steps.
Eventually we reach the forested area at the bottom of the mountain. We had met quite a few day walkers climbing the mountain. Because of the much improved conditions, most of them were in light weight shoes and some did not even have jackets. It shows what a difference a day can make in the wild weather off Tasmania. It only took about a third to a half of the time it took us to get to the rescue hut the day before.
We had lunch at a cafe at the Cradle Mountain village. I seem to remember I had a large bowl of warming soup. I needed it.
The bus then took us back to Quamby where we unloaded and gave back our packs and other gear. They had some delicious nibbles including some delicious olive tapenade on toast. I've got to try making it when I get home. We all agreed that we had made the right decision to return but we were quite disappointed that we missed out on the fine food we were supposed to eat along the trip.
By chance, when we returned by plane to Sydney a few days later, we happened to meet the two ladies who had decided to continue the trip. They finished but it was really hard and the weather was atrocious on most days. However they said the food was wonderful and every time they opened another bottle of delicious wine, they toasted me.
The lady in the photo was our one single traveler. She is a school principal from the north west of Australia. I had spent the night before huddled between her and Robin trying to keep warm.
Just before we left, they opened a bottle of Tasmanian bubbly and we toasted ourselves and our guides. The company representative was not sure that we would want any since we would be disappointed about turning back, but we were just happy to be alive. There is always a next time, just not at the beginning of October.
The bus then took us back to the Sebel Hotel at Launceston and we decided to splurge on a bit of luxury.
We each had a shower and then went to bed for a well deserved sleep. Later we went out and had a good Indian meal.
The room even had a washer and dryer which Robin was able to make work. Robin loved the hotel and was ready to move in permanently.
Since it would have cost a fortune to change our plane tickets, we decided to rent a car and explore more of Tasmania. After all, this was a father / daughter trip and being together was the main thing.