Day 3 on the Cradle Mountain Huts Overland Track hike traverses some magnificent mountain scenery including Mt Pelion West and Mt Oakleigh.
Departing the cozy hut on Pine Forest Moor, we continue south and soon enter some tall forest. Here we see historic remains of an old tram way, which was originally intended to cart materials out of the region when mining was considered a possibility. There is also a nice creek to top up the water bottles, as we continue on to the lowest point on the Overland Track – Frog Flats, where the Forth River is crossed. The next section is a steady incline to the huts on Pelion Plains. First there is a turn off to the Old Pelion Hut and shortly after the new hut – or “Pelion Palace” is found.
Dumping our packs near the Palace, we head up Mt Oakleigh to enjoy grandstand views of Lake Ayr, Pelion East and West and of course Mt Ossa, our destination for the next day. The walk across the buttongrass is currently being boardwalked, and the scar of the previous track is very evident below the duck boards. It is great to see that measures are being put in place to minimise environmental damage in this fragile alpine environment which attracts as many visitors as it does.
The track up Mt Oakleigh quite quickly enters beautiful myrtle rainforest, and tall pandanis near the top. Once through the pandanis, lower shrubs on the flattish top dominate, and soon we are rock hopping and enjoying stunning views of the mountains that lie ahead of us.
After soaking up the views we head back to our hut for another relaxing evening indoors.