Cradle Mountain and the Prunes

This is an oldie but a goodie.  

In the mid 1990s over a University summer break I worked for Craclair Tours, living in Davenport my role was guide, and pack horse.  I absolutely loved it a vowed to return when the season ended.  Eric ran an incredible business from the back of his home and provided hundreds (if not thousands) of people with an experience still replicated today.

In 2002, after significant planning Brett, I and a few of our family and friends were ready to return to this stunning part of Australia.  We had divided the trip into 2 parts:

  1. Overnight with the whole group around Cradle Mountain; and then
  2. A smaller group would trek The Overland Track to Lake St Clair.

Group 1 (mum, Aunty C and Uncle T) who decided to only hike the overnight would meet a couple of us at Arm River for a food run (empty packs out - food in) and then pick us up at Cynthia Bay. 

Anyway instructions were given to Group 1, "pack to a minimum, take only what you need for the overnight stay".  Group 2 was carrying all tents, food, first aid and all other items, Brett and I were to sleep under a fly for night one to keep weight down.

We began the hike from the Dove Lake carpark and then headed over towards the Twisted Lake where we would camp for night one. 

Now, to give some context to this tale, Uncle T at this point was 81 years of age; a boxer, politician, POW and generally all round incredible person across all his life; had on his bucket list to hike Cradle Mountain.  So when we were talking about his trip at Christmas over sparkling red wine and turkey Uncle T had decided, not sure we had a say, that he was joining us. 

(Uncle T front right)

As we headed out around Dove Lake, the sun was out, the sky was blue and we were excited.  It was as gorgeous as I remembered.  In no particular rush we were trundling along enjoying the scenery, eventually arriving at the turn off to the Twisted Lakes.  Now this is where things began to unravel, the track goes from Grade 1 to Grade 3, there are some technical rock steps and a reasonable uphill climb. 

Uncle T realised this wasn't going to be easy.   If Uncle T was going to realise his dream we all needed to help.  It was decided that those of us fit enough would double up, hike into Twisted Lakes, drop packs and then return to collect Uncle T's pack.  Brett, S and B headed off.    

After dropping their packs they returned to the rest of the group who were making their way slowly along the track, and continued back to collect Uncle T's pack.  When B,S&B picked up the pack, these young strapping crew were surprised to find the pack significantly heavier than expected, in fact almost as heavy as some of their packs.  Surprising for a day pack, but it needed to be done and so they shared the load and returned to camp only shortly after the rest had arrived.  

That night, over a stove cooked meal, day two was decided.  The plan was to repeat this carrying the pack procedure until we joined The Overland Track around the far side of Cradle Mountain, and then depending on how Uncle T was going we would either take his pack back to the carpark and camp early, or part ways and continue our travels to Lake St Clair. 

We were able to part ways at The Overland Track, with a small number having already hiked twice as far as anticipated.  The rest of this trip was going to be easy!

(Dad at the Pinnacle, Tasmania, after 6 days)

It was however after we had been picked up at Cynthia Bay that the story became folklore.  As we were enjoying a meal looking over Lake St Clair, Aunty C decided it was time to confess a little something that had been troubling her since she opened Uncle T's pack at the Twisted Lakes.  

Uncle T, at age 81, likes to keep himself regular and to do so he kept a jar of prunes on the kitchen bench that he would take a few prunes and add to his breakfast every morning.  Now this jar was quite large, made of glass and when full probably weighed 5-6 kgs.  

So, when Aunty C, had opened Uncle T's back to find his pajamas that night she was a little bemused, and horrified, to find the full jar of prunes in Uncle T's day pack. 

That night over a wine, and perhaps a prune or two, the story of the jar of prunes went down in the family history books.  And in Uncle T's journal the story of the favourite nephew-in-law, Brett, and his counterparts became part of the history books.

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