As I stand there on the beach watching the boat that I had just jumped off, motoring away into the fading daylight, I feel a familiar calm settle over me. As the noise of the boat fades away and the silence settles around me, I breath out slowly and welcome myself home.
After the chaos of another year ending and beginning, I needed some silence. I was looking for an easy escape into the wilderness for a few days without the hassle and planning of a big adventure / hike. Whilst procrastinating at my computer one Monday morning, I discovered the Three Capes Track. A four day, 46km hike around the Tasman Peninsula. A couple of phone calls and one flight booking later, I was headed to Tasmania.
I walk off the beach and find the track that will be home for the next four days. Despite the late afternoon, the sun is still hot, and I am thankful for the last minute decision to throw a pair of shorts into my bag. It’s only a short 4km to the first cabin, but with a full pack and lazy legs, it was feeling as if it was 14km.
Arriving at the first cabin, I scold myself for letting my training falter in between trails. The cabins are spacious and each includes a large kitchen with gas stove tops and a large range of cooking utensils. This being my first multi day hike that required me to carry all of my food, I’d gone down the weight conscious path (in that I’d be carrying it all!) and packed four days of dehydrated meals. The excitement and anticipation as I ripped open the first pouch lasted for about 30 seconds. I do not recommend dehydrated meals. Ever. I have since learnt that there are lots of great viable alternatives. I saw one woman who had made pancakes, with blueberries. Granted, you have to carry it all, but the extra weight, especially for such a short hike, is more than worth it. Lesson learnt right there.
The solitude that first night was slightly uncomfortable. Even though there were 45 other hikers, I chose not to engage in any distracting conversations and instead waited for the disquiet to pass, to reach that point where the silence and solitude becomes comforting and calming. Where the internal chatter and noise settles to a dull hum in the background. We need silence and stillness in order to be able to listen to what our heart desires, and our soul longs for. We need silence and stillness to be able to reconnect to our core, to go home for awhile, to rest and renew.
The remaining days I start early, just as the sun is coming up, and hike awhile before stopping somewhere to eat breakfast. I find the early mornings are the most silent, when the world is just starting to waken. The track itself is wide and well formed allowing easy and comfortable hiking, which lets me fully absorb the incredible views, rather than getting to intimately know every stitch of my boots. The track winds its way through some of the most remote and incredibly beautiful wilderness, surrounded by 300 metre sea cliffs and with views stretching down to Antarctica.
Each day’s distance is not far, and so it allows me to slowly meander and daydream, to lose myself in the silence and contentment that only a trail can offer. I feel as if I am the only person on the Peninsula. Starkly different to the majority of the mainland, it is stunning and spectacular. A maximum of 48 people are allowed to start the walk each day meaning that for the majority of the day, I wouldn’t see another person. This is something that you always want, but even more so when you have to pee the number of times I do! Each night was spent on the deck of my cabin, watching the sun fade and the moon rise, reflecting on the day’s thoughts, comfortable in my aloneness.
The track ends at Fortescue Bay, a long bay of bright white sand and crystal clear water set at the foot of heavily forested hills. With no regard to the temperature of the water, I dive in and bob around on gentle waves until I start to no longer feel my fingers. The water is one of my absolute favourite happy places, and to finish a track with a swim in such beautiful pristine water is absolute soul sweetness.
The Tasman Peninsula is a beautiful wilderness to find a moment’s solitude and silence, and I leave feeling renewed and calm.