Spring here in Australia, and our dormant dishwasher had sprung a leak. We were wondering why our cupboard was stinky. So, with spending half a day on the phone to the insurance company , then starting the process of mould removal and repair, memories of a rainy day hiking around Dove Lake, in Tasmania surfaced.
K-Team, the Younger: Tasmania 2001, Cradle Mountain National Park
Dove Lake Hike in Garbage Bags
Mr K paced the floor of the mountain cabin. ‘Yes, that’ll work. Garbage bags’ll work.’ He was in his frugal element and he raced around the small room as if he’d won the lottery. ‘Oh, and so cheap!’
He spent the rest of the evening cutting and taping two garbage bags and fashioning them into ponchos for our young sons.
Sons 1 and 2, unaware of the fate that awaited them, marvelled at the possum perched on the balcony.
Next morning, a shroud of mist covered the valley.
‘Hmm, the weather doesn’t look good,’ Mr K said. ‘Don’t know if we’ll see much of Cradle Mountain. Boys’ll definitely need the ponchos I made when we hike around Dove Lake.’
Mr K grinned as he pushed the garbage bags into our packs. Then he lost his smile. ‘You’ve stuffed these bags too full, Lee-Anne. What have you got in here?’
He threw out the contents: garbage bags, spare clothes, water-bottles, lunchboxes, and then my camera lens. He held the telescopic-zoom lens.
‘What have you got here?’
‘A zoom lens.’
‘Have you looked outside?’
‘But…you never…’ I grabbed the lens. ‘Oh, never mind.’
While Mr K rearranged the contents of the backpack, so all would fit without breaking the zip, I slung the bulky lens in its case over my shoulder and tucked it under my parka. I remembered the collective words of those who had visited Cradle Mountain before me. ‘Even on cloudy days, you never know when the peak will appear. So, be prepared.’ Besides, I thought, mist and fog give the scenery character.
In our sedan, we crawled in the tourist-congo to Dove Lake. Signs warned us of an unsealed section of road suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles. But did that stop Mr K? No, we bumped along the track behind a bus with Mr K plopping in remarks. ‘Brachina Gorge was worse.’ Or, ‘What are they talking about, this is nothing.’
After parking, Mr K leapt from the car. ‘Oh, looks like rain.’ He ripped out the “raincoats” and waved them in the air. ‘Come on boys, you need to be waterproof.’
Son 1 recoiled. ‘I’m not wearing that.’
‘No!’ Son 2 screamed and hid behind me.
‘Oh, yes, you will!’ Mr K said. ‘You’ll get wet and a chill and then catch a death of cold, if you don’t.’
‘No!’ both boys squealed and then scampered up the path.
A battle ensued; Mr K with garbage bag-ponchos verses sons refusing to wear the garbage bags.
Dad won, and with the g-b-ponchos draped over two unhappy boys, the young K-Team trooped along the Dove Lake track.
A blanket of cloud covered the mountain, and drizzle blurred the view of the lake. The shifting mist mesmerised me. I slowly pulled out my camera and then attached the telescopic lens.
‘Get this off me!’ Son 2 cried. He fought with his garbage bag in the wind, and then tore it off.
‘No! You must keep it on!’ Mr K grabbed the bag-poncho and shoved it back over him. Then clasping his hand, Mr K marched ahead, dragging Son 2 behind him.
‘I hate this walk!’ Son 1 cried. ‘Why do I have to wear this sack!’
‘So you don’t get wet!’ Dad growled as they disappeared around a bend of pine trees, branches like arms all twisted and gnarled; monsters in the fog.
As I progressed around that same bend I spied No.2 son sitting on a stump by the path. The sun peeped through the clouds. ‘I’m not wearing this,’ Son 2 said. ‘It’s too hot.’
I glanced around. No Mr K. ‘Okay.’ I took the cloak of garbage bag off Son 2, then peeled off my parka.
The lake shimmered as rays of sun filtered through the mist and gaps in the cloud. A photographer’s paradise. I aimed my camera and snapped several shots of Dove Lake.
‘Mum! Come on!’ Son 2 yelled.
‘Hurry up!’ Mr K snapped. ‘We’ve hardly started! And what are you doing without your rain cover?’
More protests as Mr K wrestled with Son 2 to get garbage bag-poncho again over his head.
Just in time. Dark clouds loomed, followed by rain pelting down on us.
As we plodded along the path, once again wrapped and water-proofed, the rain turned to sleet. Icy drops cut into my face.
‘I’m tired,’ Son 2 whined. ‘How much longer?’
‘It’s an hour’s walk, I replied.
The sun appeared, and so did the peaks of Cradle Mountain—fleeting, peeping from the curtain of clouds.
‘Wow!’ I halted, shed my rain-jacket, shrugged off the tangle of bags and camera equipment, then caught the image of the mountain before it disappeared.
Son 2 shed his garbage bag-cloak too. He sighed, ‘How embarrassing!’
I packed the embarrassing cover into my bag and we continued the trek around Dove Lake. Every few metres I paused to take another photo.
‘Are we there yet?’ Son 2 asked as we crossed a stream.
Mr K stood before us. He tapped his foot on the dirt. ‘You took your time.’
‘There’s so many beautiful scenes to capture,’ I said. ‘The clouds are always shifting and changing. How can I resist?’
Mr K shook his head. ‘Should only take an hour. It’s been two hours and we’re only half-way. What’s wrong with you?’
‘But, the photos…’
A pair of hikers passed us from the other direction.
‘How far to go?’ they asked.
‘A couple of hours,’ I said. ‘How long have you been hiking?’
‘From the boathouse, about half-an-hour.’
‘Not long to go then.’
‘Ha! Two hours for you, Lee-Anne,’ Mr K snapped. ‘Right, I’m off. See you at the boathouse.’
Mr K and Son 1 marched off while Son 2 and I shuffled behind. We tried to keep up.
Emerging through the twisted branches of snow-gums, the lake beckoned, then hints of Cradle Mountain begged me to photograph. Mr K and Son 1 drifted further…and further ahead, while I remained suspended in the fairyland of Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain and fast-shifting mist and cloud. Even Son 2 deserted me to catch up with his Dad and brother.
I arrived at the boathouse.
Mr K stood with hands on hips and a frown on his face. ‘You took your time. Four hours! That must be a record. How slow can you be!’
Our sons, minus garbage bags, skipped stones on the smooth surface of the lake while mist descended over the mountain. I extracted my camera and aimed, taking care to focus.
‘Hurry up!’ Mr K ‘It’s way past lunch.’
During lunch Mr K scrunched up the green plastic of garbage bags and dumped them into a nearby bin.
Stay tune for next week and see what a difference a few years make. And how the K-Team the younger, just a little bit older, tackle the hike around Dove Lake on a perfect sunny day in the summer of 2009.]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2019
Feature Photo: Cradle Mountain Revealed © L.M. Kling 2001
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