It’s a day that has been on our minds for a very long time, and now it has finally arrived! ‘Skipper’ Jan once again ventured north to champion his craft, dropping Rohan and myself at the northern end of Lake Burbury. From there, we set off with 25kg packs to gain 1,200m of elevation up Eldon Peak, after which we camped with views of the entire Eldon Range!
It’s Rohan’s 20th birthday! What a way to celebrate graduating your teens – traversing the almighty ‘razorback’ Eldon Range. Today was tough, as we negotiated huge boulders, “death chasms” (quote, Shelly Napier) and deteriorating weather conditions. At day’s end, though, the mist lifted and views opened up, just in time to enjoy an EPIC sunset over the conquered range with a birthday dessert I’ve been carrying for 2 days!
Dropping our packs after 15 minutes felt great, as we zoomed up Eldon Crag, and then down, and then up the well-recognised Eldon Bluff! Reaching 53 Abels meant ⅓ of the 158 Challenge officially complete – a huge moment! The sidle along the base of Bluff’s HUGE dolerite cliffs through tough scrub made for a gruelling afternoon, however eventually we popped out onto a little open area for, once again, a colourful sunset, that this time lit up the entire overland track.
Overnight rain created a dreary morning, as I reluctantly aimed for Dome Hill. To my utter delight, though, the weather lifted quick, and I returned to continue with Rohan past Lake Ewart to our beautiful tarns campsite with optimism for the evening’s mission. Note to self: never, ever under-estimate an Abel! Castle Mtn decided to destroy my body and mind as I went up and down it’s scrubby face. Thankfully, glassy alpine water to wash and ‘reflect’ on the terrain undertaken so far.
Waking to amazing morning light, we made tracks early as getting today done successfully sets up the 8-day itinerary. Up onto the ridge and saddle, then a super fun trip up High Dome to gain panoramic views, every direction to all surrounding ranges! An early night in at Five Duck Tarn for me, because tomorrow is the big one…
It’s the big one! Tramontane! The 7-hour round-trip side-trip was mostly through forest and scrub, often under canopy, although High Dome when viewed from the ridge below was a standout when exposed to the sky! It was a spiritual experience, being on what I class as the remote Abel – simply elated as I sat on top (after it hit my nose with a tree)! Amazing examples of flora throughout the day were witnessed – mostly pandanis, I love pandanis – as I was re-united with Rohan and he towed me up to Junction Hill for views of all Abels and campsites visited so far on the trip!
Triple Abel day! Sunrise peeked over the Overland Track as I shooted off for what I thought was going to be a quick easy trip up Pyramid Mtn. Again, optimism crushed, as the scrub beat me down! But I returned to camp determined to see through my second 11-hour-plus walking day in a row! We walked westwards to just above beautiful Pine Grove, where Rohan dropped off to set up camp. I had a job to finish though, and set out to complete the final two Abels of the trip – Rocky Hill, and the infamously scrubby Camp Hill!
Low visibility greeted us for our final morning on the Eldons. It was expected, but still made for slower going as we lost the pad numerous times on the way out to Lyell Highway, and ultimately our cars. Some cool sights included what looked like fossilised tree patterns, lifting fog and the highway from above, weaving it’s way through the lush greenery! We let our hair out as we finished what was an incredible 8 days through some of Tassie’s hardest and remote wilderness, feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, but also feeling humbled by what we’d just experienced.
Abels: 60 / 158