Another of Tasmanias stunning short-to-mid length moderate hikes is the track out to Lake Rhona.
After a couple of hours drive out of Hobart, past Mt Field and continuing west, then turning north off the main road along a series of ever-shrinking dirt roads, you arrive at the start of the walk; a pleasant stroll downhill through the forest towards the Gordon river. Upon reaching the river you can utilize a large fallen tree as a footbridge to cross the river to remain high and dry. (This was the case in 2016- i wonder how long before the river claims the tree and washes it away..? )
A campsite is also located on the banks of the river, but i continued on, keen to cover the 14km one way journey in a day.
Then its onward to the forest flank as trees begin to give way to buttongrass in the rather flat Vale of Rasselas. Here the track takes a turn north and heads off toward the Denison range. This low-lying valley can get quite boggy after rainfalls, so expect a few sloppy sections.
The walking is pretty easy to begin with, although the pad sometimes becomes a little faint in places, so keep an eye out for the tape tags. Soon enough the pitch begins to increase and the trail becomes an ever-increasing uphill gradient. The final climb up into the lake comes about 4hrs into the 14km hike and was met with grumbles from myself as fatigue was starting to niggle.. more scroggin..
After completing the final climb up into the glacial crater that holds the waters of lake Rhona, you come ambling around the side of a hill and suddenly the lake comes into view for the first time. Its quite a sight with its long white, quartzite "sand" beach stretched out on its northern side. A renewed burst of energy propels me down into the crater and onto the pebbly beach. Not long before the boots came off and i was cooling my toes in the water as the pebbles massaged my soles.
The only thing to tarnish my feeling of awe at this place was the seemingly endless stream of hikers that kept arriving to set up camp at the lake.
First a few, then a few more, followed by another group... by nightfall on saturday there was close to 30 people camped in there! A little bit of a reverse-culture-shock kind of thing; i wanted to get away from people for the weekend! oh well, luckily they were all pretty chilled, not too much noise.
The Sunday morning i rose early (as usual) and headed off with my camera gear, (tip-toeing past all the tents full of snoozers) and headed off along the track towards a hill on the south side of the lake, to climb up for an elevated view for sunrise. There was a thick layer of cloud obscuring the peaks which i was hoping would lift as the day came on. Thankfully the clouds started to clear shortly after sunrise and the scenery opened up to reveal itself in the first light of day. It sure was a magic morning. There is a loop track that continues on past where i was shooting and up onto the rim of the crater, around the top of Great Dome and Reeds Peak; a return loop which takes around 3-4hrs. I wish i had done it, but after shooting pics all morning i was so content to just head back to camp and eat some lunch then relax with a book in the sun. Bliss. I'll hike the loop around the ridgeline next time. :)
I then made my way back down to the lakes edge where the wind was very light, allowing the lakes surface to become a mirror for that rocky backdrop.
Down i went, down through the boulders and buttongrass, to find a place to sit on the waters edge and absorb some of of the stillness.
I feel more connection with a "higher power" in these kinds of places than i have ever felt in any church.
What a morning! Lake Rhona and her modest summits of Great Dome and Reeds Peak sure gave me a good dose of her soothing magic. I had a fantastic couple of days in this region, which is part of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The hike out of there is pretty easy going as its mostly downhill, with one steady uphill climb just before getting back to the carpark. I cant wait to go back, hopefully get lucky next time and have the place to myself.