Shadow Lake Circuit
Lake St Clair National Park
Directions - Located two and a half hours north west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy north and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Cross the River Derwent at New Norfolk and then follow the Lyall Highway north west all the way to Derwent Bridge. Turn onto Lake St Clair Road and follow this all the way to the car park for the Lake St Clair Lodge. The walk trails all start from the same location a short distance west of the lodge.
The Hike - With our stay at Lake St Clair coinciding with a bit of a cold snap, some snow on the mountains was making for a great experience. After one day of it snowing at lower altitudes we woke up on the last full day we were there to normal conditions around the Lake St Clair Lodge. With an enjoyable group outing on the Larmairremener Tabelti after breakfast, my main focus for the afternoon was to tackle the 14km Shadow Lake Circuit that seemed like a good compromise given Mount Rufus was a little longer and possibly harder to navigate with the snowfall we'd received.
After our morning walk, Caris and I headed out to Derwent Bridge for a spot of lunch at the Hungry Wombat Café before heading back to Lake St Clair so I could prep my gear. Candy and Hal were off kayaking on the lake and along the River Derwent so Caris would get some time off to read her book and have a nap in the warm cabin. Filling up my water bottles and packing some warm gear, I said goodbye and headed off along the edge of the lake towards the start of all the day walks near the lodge. With partly cloudy conditions, this was the first time I'd seen the lodge with blue skies around and I enjoyed the different look, even if it wasn't as cosy as when it was covered in snow. Walking past the little information hut at the start of the Watersmeet Track, I decided to do the circuit in a clockwise direction. It doesn't matter what direction you do it in but I wanted to be on unfamiliar territory much earlier and was soon on the shared path with the Larmairremener Tabelti as it leaves the Watersmeet Track. Walking past Banksias and small Buttongrass Plains, this marks the start of a very long uphill section all the way to where you turn off for Mount Rufus.
I would have loved to have done that track but given how many photos I take on a typical hike, trying to average 4kmph over the remaining five hours of daylight would be a challenge and I didn't want to feel rushed. Walking past the sign for the Larmairremener Tabelti turnoff, from here until the crossing of the Hugel River would be all new for me and I was excited to see what was in store. You can read all about a walk in guide books or look on the interwebs for reviews but nothing really prepares you for being in the moment. Initially I was a little disappointed that I hadn't done this the previous day when the ground was covered in snow but the quality of the forest through here was very enjoyable. Passing the girthy trunks of the larger trees was fantastic and there were plenty of details for me to photograph including Coral Fungi, different varieties of berries, lichens and flowering Banksia. Not expecting it to be a warm hike, I found early on that I didn't need my jacket so put that in the bag not far from the first turnoff. As I climbed, it became apparent that not all the snow had melted and I was ascending into a winter wonderland as the altitude got higher and higher.