The coldest night of the trip. We woke with ice on the tents, frozen water bottles and frost across the plain to Mount Oakleigh. There were a few stiff muscles after the long trek yesterday. Today was a shorter distance, so we took the side trip to Mt Ossa, Tasmania's highest peak. We were rewarded with clear skies and visibility to the horizon in every direction. Lunch at the top, and then on to Kia Ora.
Distance: 8.6km Time: 3-4 hours Terrain: Gradual ascent through wet forest to Pelion Gap, followed by a gradual descent across buttongrass plains and through eucalypt forest to Kia Ora. Track Surface: The climb to Pelion Gap is mainly on a natural surface (tree roots, muddy, rocky). The descent to Kia Ora includes muddy sections with some planking, cordwood and duckboard. Today is mountain day. The walk starts at the same altitude as it finishes, with Pelion Hut and Kia Ora Hut both at 850m in elevation. In between, however, it climbs almost 300m to Pelion Gap – and more if you choose to summit one of the peaks. Start by ascending steadily through rainforest, at first following beside Douglas Creek. After a few hours, you’ll emerge from the forest onto Pelion Gap – the exposed alpine plateau between Mt Pelion East and Mt Ossa. If fine weather and time allows, you may choose to attempt to summit Tasmania’s highest mountain (Mt Ossa-1617m) or the slightly lower Mt Pelion East. Good views can also be had by climbing to the saddle between Mt Doris and Mt Ossa. Leave your pack at the junction and carry a day pack with waterproof jacket, food, water, first aid kit, torch, map, compass, etc. Injury and death have occurred in the Tasmanian mountains. Don’t risk your safety, or that of your group. No matter how close to the summit you might be, it’s better to turn around if the weather closes in, rather than risk your party’s safety. The gradual descent from Pelion Gap to Kia Ora Hut through beautiful Pinestone Valley with views to your left of Cathedral Mountain, is a favourite part of the track for many. After arriving at Kia Ora, you’ll find the delightful Kia Ora Creek just beyond the hut. OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS Mt Ossa (1617m) Tasmania’s highest peak! The track to Mt Ossa has steep and very exposed sections. We strongly advise against climbing if it is raining or snowing, or if there is heavy snow on the ground. Once in the boulderfield, the track can be difficult to follow in low cloud and/or if snow-covered. Boulderfields under snow are dangerous. You will need 4-5 hours of daylight to summit and return to Pelion Gap – and a further hour to reach Kia Ora Hut. Distance: 5.2km return Time: 4-5 hours return Grade: medium-hard Mt Pelion East (1433m) A good alternative climb if time or fitness limits your capacity to scale Mt Ossa. It’s a gradual uphill with a steep final scramble to a rocky summit. In clear weather, you’ll have spectacular views over Mt Ossa, the Pelion Range and most of the park’s highest peaks. The same weather warnings apply as for Mt Ossa. Distance: 2.4km return Time: 2 hours return Grade: medium-hard