It’s May and I had a couple of days spare to disappear into the wilderness. The weather forecast was for clear and cool conditions and for a change I decided to head into the Tasmanian Highlands with my sea kayak.
Lake St Clair is a beautiful, high altitude lake sitting at 740 metres above sea level with a neat campsite behind a sandy beach near its northern end. I packed my kayak then set off up the lake. Conditions were a little breezy so I was able to sail part of the way up the lake but the forecast was for a descending calm towards evening.
I arrived in time to set up camp in warm sunshine in a dying breeze. The campsite was deserted so peaceful solitude was assured. As the sun dropped below the surrounding mountains, a chill descended upon my camp, with my thermometer registering -2.7°C by 6pm. I sat up for awhile, rugged up in Mont fleece (a Slinx), a Mont beanie and my Mont Icicle jacket. Still toasty warm, I retired to my tent around 8pm and read for another hour. The book? Ice Trek, a bitter recount of the walk to the South Pole by Jon Muir, Eric Philips and Peter Hillary. They were a lot colder than me!
I tightened the hood and collar on my Spindrift sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep. I slept well, only waking briefly at 1.30 am to look outside just in case an Aurora was hovering above but there was only an inky blackness above studded with crystal clear diamonds. My thermometer now informed me that it was a rather impressive -10°C. That’s a very low temperature for Tassie. I have only seen a lower temperature twice before so it was definitely a cold one!
Sliding back into a luxurious sleep in my Mont sleeping bag, I woke fully refreshed at 7am and dressed in time to be up for the sunrise. Overnight, my camp had turned into a crystal fairyland, with my tent, the ground beneath me and the bushes around me all rigid with frost. Even the water in my MSR Dromedary water bladder had half frozen… Cold.
Once again, the Icicle jacket earned its keep, allowing me to rejoice in the fresh, cold clarity of the morning in warm comfort.
I enjoyed a slow start to the day, giving the sun time to thaw my gear before packing it back into the kayak and pointing my bow south again.
A short escape, but a perfect one.
Geoff has been a bush walker for longer than he cares to remember and a professional photographer for around 20 years. He has supplied images to the publishing industry in Australia and overseas including Australian Geographic, The Australian Conservation Foundation, Explore Australia Publishing, Penguin Australia, The Sophisticated Traveller, Tourism Tasmania and The World Wildlife Fund.
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