The next day I only used the top of my big backpack as daypack. I packed some water, snack and hardshell plus the map. You no longer can buy the detailed 1:25.000 maps printed, but you can buy a digital copy and then print it in Hobart in the maps shop. I did that, because I like the detailed maps. Once you need a map, then you need the details when you go hiking. I backtracked the Overland track for about 7.5 km. That is legal in that instance, as this is the official approach to Mount Pelion West. Most of the Overland track is anyway boardwalk, so it was basically straightforward and you can’t miss the Overland track. After about 3.5 km you reach Frog Flats and cross the (small) Forth river. It’s the lowest point of the Overland track. Afterwards it’s going slightly uphill again.
When the Overland track turns North you reach a nice bridge over another creek (with easy access to fill up your bottles). A few metres before there’s a big sign that (another) track is closed. As I found out later from a ranger, there were much more managed tracks in the National Park in the 1970’s, but due to shortage in funding and changing policies (volunteers seem to be no longer allowed to maintain tracks due to legal issues), there’re now all overgrown. This is one of them, but it’s not the access track to Mount Pelion West. The actually track junction is about 200m before the bridge (when you come from the south), just before another small creek which just runs cross the Overland track. I missed that turn-off completely. Just when I was in that area a hiking group with guide came towards me, and commented on me hiking in the wrong direction. That distracted me enough, from not seeing the turnoff. Additionally, the track was not in my detailed map and I didn’t put it in by hand. So having a detailed map is not always helpful.
As it was early and I knew roughly were I need to go I decided to follow some small tracks. It turned out that these were just animal tracks and just disappeared quickly. Nevertheless I knew roughly the direction, and then about 1-2h of bush bashing followed. First I followed that small creek which I mentioned earlier, but I thought I should not cross it. In between I had some open sections, before it turned dense again. Finally it opened up and I had a clear view to the mountain and also to the northern part of the Overland track with Barn Bluff and Cradle Mountain.
Finally I found the track. But even if you stand 5m next to it, you wouldn’t see it because it’s hidden in the bush. I followed it through a wide gully to reach the ridge. Then on top of the ridge it was pure rock and still another hour of constant boulder hopping. Nothing too hard, but exhaustive after some time. The track on top is well marked with cairns, but sometimes you’ve two parallel cairn options. I mostly stuck to the northern part of the route, as I found it more fluent. Shortly before the summit I met 4 other hikers. They came up from the western side, as they pitched their tent on a saddle towards Mount Achilles next to a tarn (that must be actually close to the spring of the Forth river)…true Tassie bushwalkers. I thought damn it, I could have made a traverse of the whole mountain, if I knew that beforehand. But they had some gps track from fellow hikers, which they briefly followed. So nothing in the public domain, as Tassie hikers like to stick to themselves and not share anything…not that mainland people could dare to steal “their” tracks. One of the hikers told me, that this was his 4th (or so) attempt to reach Mount Pelion West and that it took him more than 40 years since his first attempt. So we definitely had luck with the weather.
I had my lunch break on the summit as the weather cleared. The way back was the same, except that I now followed the official track all the down to the Overland track. It was surprisingly well maintained in the upper section. And then a bit steep before reaching the Overland track. And yes, there’s no sign at the Overland track for the turn off. So either you’ve a good map or a gps with you (Or just know where it is, I mean it’s obvious isn’t it 😉). In total it’s about 20km, and with the bush bashing in the morning, it was a full day of hiking which I really enjoyed.