Day Three | Cape Pillar Return

Start - Cape Pillar Lodge

Length - 13.9km (Return)

Terrain - Single Track, Rocky Path, Boardwalk

Vertical Climb - ~400m

Time - 3-6 hours

Signed - Yes, Follow the Guidebook

Cost - See TWC or Tas Parks Website

Date Hiked - 21st October 2018

Best Time - All Year Round

The Hike - Waking up in paradise with the morning sun streaming through the window and another day of hiking on the Three Capes was not the worst way to begin a Sunday. My body clock had adjusted to east coast time but I was still excited to see the sunrise from the Cape Pillar Lodge so was up early.

Ahead of us today would be the start of the truly stunning scenery and a few of the iconic scenes that everyone pictures when they think about the Three Capes. Grabbing my camera I headed off to the relaxation lounge where the best views of Munro Bight and Cape Hauy could be found, interrupting Giselle in the process as she was enjoying some morning yoga. While not quite as spectacular as the sunset from the previous night, the stillness of the morning air made for a serene experience just sitting there on the wooden deck soaking it all in. This is probably the first time on the trip where I fully present in the moment with no distractions or thinking how this scene would look in the photos.

Speaking of photos, I have all my photos from this day so can relay all the beauty from my own camera back to you (thanks again to Uncle Hal for coming to the rescue). With the sunrise thoroughly enjoyed I headed back to the room to see if Caris was up and about yet. Given we were returning to Cape Pillar Lodge after the days hiking there was no need to pack everything up so it was a more relaxed start to the day not worrying about getting everything together. So we didn't have to use our 50L packs to carry water and lunch, there were some new Sea to Summit lightweight day packs for us to use and this made things a lot easier. After enjoying another yummy breakfast we had some chill time to get our things together, relax in the lounge or have a morning shower. 

On the cards for today was a 14km return trip to Cape Pillar through some absolutely stunning landscapes and towards the southernmost point of the Three Capes Track. Lauren had the troops gathered at 9am ready to depart and ran through what the day would look like. Given it was another relatively short distance we would be given freedom to move at our own pace and experience the day as we saw fit. We descended down the switchbacks from the lodge to the boardwalk and made a sharp left to rejoin the official Three Capes Track. The start of the day is pretty inconspicuous with a stroll through some lovely forest scenes but given what wass expected of the day, I couldn't wait for this section to be over and to get into the amazing cliff walking. What was very enjoyable along here was the abundance and variety of wildflowers as we made our way over Lunchtime Creek (marked by another piece of public art) and onto the start of the open section. 

Climbing up some stairs I spotted some flowers at the top that I wanted to photograph and as I bent down to get closer I noticed something in the bushes. It noticed me too and slowly slithered off into the thicker undergrowth. My first nope rope (snake) sighting on the Three Capes and I managed to get a picture of its tail before it was gone forever. Feeling buoyed by this (I rarely see snakes on hikes because I wasn't sorted into Slytherin) I was in an even better mood as we moved onto the first of the ocean views for the day. Albeit a very brief glimpse, they had me excited for what was to come as the water was perfectly still and a lovely blue colour. Coming across the boardwalk section, there was a rock formation that looked suspiciously like the scene I had just encountered with the back end of a snake forming from the boardwalk (the head of the snake would be much further up the trail).

 

This long boardwalk section takes you on the side of a hill complete with sweeping views of the ocean and down below the bleak greens of Corruption Gully. With the direction of the track very clearly disappearing down the valley and then away over the hill, this little corner of the landscape felt like you were on the precipice of the great walking that was promised. The handrail of the boardwalk was lined with She-Oak, both male and female (more on that later), and a Currawong flew right by us, landing on the branches of a distant She-Oak. There is a photo in the gallery I took of the Currawong as it sits on the branch overlooking the distant crowd that had gathered on a seat in the distance, a shot I almost forgot about when editing up the photos. 

Cape Pillar was in the distance but its famous jagged shapes were hidden behind a rounder set of hills so we moved on into the valley and back up the hill, eager to reach the cliffs. As you round the corner more sections of the cape open up including your first peak at "The Blade", a dolerite spire reaching out from the peninsula towards the heavens before dramatically crumbling away into the ocean below. Further ahead is one of the more interesting pieces of art on the track, "Sex on the Cape", a circular bench with phallic like metals rods jutting from the middle. This is meant to symbolise the reproductive nature of the She-Oaks that are found in this area as Lauren explained to the group when we stopped.

Spotting the end of the boardwalk and connecting up the snake head to the rocky snake tail we had seen before, we were once again on firm ground (on a place called Perdition Plateau). After investigating a small tarn that was brimming with tadpoles, the first glimpses of an epic dolerite cliff could be seen through the heath. Eager to explore I hurried on (we were almost at the back of the group by this stage) and soon enough we were confronted with an impressive chasm of great depth. Being able to go right up to the edge was a thrill and necessary to understand just how steep the drop off was (about 300m straight down). I edged closer, much to the discomfort of Caris, before deciding that I would get a better view from the other side. Lauren was near us at the time and said that the safest method was to crawl on your belly and have someone hold your ankles.