This is not a recent walk - in fact, we did it over 12 years ago. However, it is worth including because The Overland Track is the iconic walk of the Tasmanian Wilderness and, for the fair Nello and myself, it represents the start of our long-distance walking adventures. In our younger days we had enjoyed the odd overnight walk and daywalks in the bush, then family came along with its many distractions and activities that pushed walking to the side somewhat. However, by the time I was approaching my fiftieth birthday, life was beginning to turn full-circle and the thought of getting the hiking boots back on for some serious workouts was gaining appeal.

In fact it was the fair Nello's idea - wonderful woman that she is, she knew that I wasn't a big party person, so to mark the passing of my first 50 years on this planet, she offered me a walk on the Overland Track. Now there is a place to celebrate a milestone birthday! Not only were we going to walk the Overland Track, we were going to do it in style - with Cradle Mountain Huts and their network of luxury eco-huts. Now that beats a party any day!

Join us as I try and prise out these 12-year old memories and relive our six-day adventure on The Overland Track. Some of the scanned images of my prints (also being 12 years old) lack the crispness of a digital photo, but they do their job in showing the beauty and diversity of this superb walk.

On the Overland Track

Getting There

We flew down to Launceston, where Cradle Mountain Huts had their headquarters (I believe they now operate from a "walkers' base" at Quamby Estate, a heritage property in the nearby countryside). That night we checked in to meet our guides, Ellis and Simon, and have a gear inspection. Ellis was a professional guide and Simon was a University student, putting his bushwalking skills to good use for a holiday job. They were keen to make sure that everyone had what they needed in the way of clothing, wet weather gear etc, that packs fitted and that we weren't carrying too much weight. I had to convince them that all my lenses and extra camera (in the days when they were big and bulky) were necessary, as I was over the recommended 12kg! It is funny to think that a few weeks ago I carried twice that weight up the 1100m of Precipitous Bluff. Who would believe that you can be fitter at 62 than you were at 50 - but that is one of the big benefits of walking.

Anyway, we passed muster and headed off for a counter tea and cold Boags before wandering down to the park to enjoy the local Carols by Candlelight - after all, 'twas the week before Christmas. The following morning, we rose early and headed back to the office, where the minibus awaited with our two guides and four fellow walkers - Bob and Carol from California, Susan from New York and Ken, a fellow Aussie. A couple of hours later, after driving through the rolling green countryside and villages of northern Tasmania, we arrived at Waldheim, the historic chalet that served as the beginning of the Overland Track. Our walk was about to begin.

Mural at Sheffield on the way to the Overland Track

Bob, Nello, Susan, Simon, Carol, Ken and Ellis

Waldheim Chalet - Kilometre 0

Waldheim to Barn Bluff Hut (12km - 560m ascent – 410m descent)

Our first hint of the what was in store arrived before we had walked a step. As soon as we were off the bus, Ellis and Simon brought out a serve of homemade cakes and hot coffee. Then, in the warm sunshine, we put on or backpacks and headed south across the button grass plains. The track crossed Ronny Creek and turned upwards, gently at first as it entered a small patch of shady forest, passed a small waterfall and then climbed steadily up to the northern outlet of Crater Lake.

Heading off across the button-grass flats

The deep cobalt blue water of this misnamed glacial lake framed by the bare grey rocks and shrubby slopes of tea-tree and fagus provided the first of many superb vistas on our walk. We wandered around the south-eastern rim of the lake to find a stepped track that climbed steeply up the side of the narrow ridge separating Crater Lake from Dove Lake.

Looking down onto Crater Lake


Ronny Creek flowing through the button-grass

Ancient pine at Crater Lake

A small waterfall in the forest

Near the outlet of Crater Lake

Once on the ridge, the views were magnificent, but the climb continued southwards along it to reach Marion's Lookout with its superb 360° panorama. Westward lay Crater Lake, now way below us; eastward and even deeper in a broad valley was the much larger but equally blue Dove Lake, while to the south, the unmistakable fluted dolerite profile of Cradle Mountain dominated the skyline.

The unmistakable profile of Cradle Mountain (1545m)

Looking down on Dove Lake from
Marion's Lookout

One of the tarns on the plateau

A little later, we reached the tarn-speckled plateau beneath the mountain, a flattish region covered with low herbs and green and grey mosaics of cushion-plant communities. The stony edge of shallow Plateau Creek provided a good place to stop for lunch. To be honest, I can't remember what we ate, but we feasted on the views as much as the food.

Cushion plant mosaic

Lunch break at Plateau Creek

Lunch over, we put our packs back on and headed off. I felt guilty when I saw the massive loads being carried by our guides, Ellis and Simon - in fact they were carrying fresh meat for our first couple of nights out. We were certainly going to eat well. The Overland Track now wandered across the plateau, scattered with scrubby pine and stunted pandani, beneath the fluted dolerite walls of Cradle Mountain (one day I must climb it). Ahead lay the distant cap of that other iconic peak in this region, Barn Bluff. It would be our beacon for the rest of the day.

Beneath the walls of Cradle Mountain

Heading towards Barn Bluff (1559m)

Western face of Cradle Mountain

Crossing fields of scoparia, its spiky foliage topped by the red and pink candles of its flowers, we reached the rim of Cradle Cirque overlooking the Fury River Gorge. The track followed the rim of the cirque for a while before taking us down a spur to leave the plateau behind. It was about at this stage that Simon bolted, jogging ahead and disappearing into the distance. Strange behaviour for a guide, we thought!

The red candles of Scoparia in bloom

Fury River Gorge

Pink scoparia in flower

We were now on the lower eastern slope of Barn Bluff, which had changed shape from a cap to a pyramid from this new more easterly aspect. To our left was a low cliff line dropping off into the gorge, while beyond it on the horizon we could see the range of mountains from Mt Ossa to Pelion West - in a few days we would be there.

Barn Bluff - more of a pyramid than a cap from the east

Pandani and pines

Panorama to the south from Cradle Cirque

We passed the public Waterfall Valley Hut and, not long after, Ellis turned off the main track to the right to follow a narrow footpath for a few hundred metres into the bush. At the end lay the welcome sight of Barn Bluff Hut and from its door, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked scones wafted out to greet us. Now we knew why Simon had forged on - this was shaping up to be a very good trip indeed.

Coffee's brewed

Barn Bluff Hut


Aaah, the luxury of the private hut - tucked away in the bush a discrete distance from the track itself, with cosy lounge, comfortable beds and hot solar showers. While we chatted and got to know our fellow walkers better, Simon and Ellis put together an excellent three-course meal topped off with some fine Tasmanian wine. And it wasn't even my birthday yet.

Barn Bluff Hut to Pine Forest Moor Hut (14km - 350m ascent – 420m descent)

It was a very different start to our second day - blue skies replaced by a thick fog that enveloped the forest around Barn Bluff Hut. After our hearty breakfast, we headed on back to the main track and left our packs near the junction. It was time to back track a little, as Ellis had decided to lead us down into Waterfall Valley below to see why it was so named. We moved fast without our packs and soon found ourselves in moss-covered temperate rain forest at the base of the cliffs. It was a very different habitat to the dry eucalypt forest on the slopes above us. From the cliff above, the misty spray of water from Branigan Falls sprinkled down into a tannin-stained creek. The mist that had filled the forest when we woke had already dispersed and we followed a ledge to get in behind the sparkling screen of sunlit droplets - magical.

Early morning mist at Barn Bluff Hut

In the rain forest of Waterfall Valley

Branigan Falls

Looking through the waterfall

Retracing our steps, we climbed back up to the top of the cliff and our packs. Imagine the surprise to find the top of Ken's pack opened and its contents, including some underwear scattered on the path. Looking around, we spotted the culprit skulking nearby - a grey currawong! These intelligent birds have learnt that walker's packs often contain tasty goodies and a zip is no match for them if they want to check a pack out; underwear chucked aside, biscuits devoured - beware!

Currawong - unzipper of backpacks

Old pencil pine in the button grass

On the edge of Waterfall Valley

Cream scoparia in bloom

Bob emerging from a sticky encounter
with Tasmanian mud

Lake Holmes on Pine Forest Moor

Heading on again, we crossed a low ridge to descend down to boggy flats, where centuries old pencil pines stood proudly above spongy button-grass. Bob quickly found out that stories about the notorious Tasmanian mud were not all exaggerated, when he stepped off a section of board walk and found himself thigh-deep in glistening black goo.

A little later we reached the junction of a side-trail to Lake Will, off to the west beneath the imposing cap of Barn Bluff (having reverted to its more recognisable profile from the south). We decided not to head out to it - another group had and had left their packs at the junction, the open compartment, torn plastic bag and scattered crumbs around one pack indicating that the currawongs had also discovered this promising source of bounty.

Lake Will beneath Barn Bluff

Some of the tarns dotted across the moor

Lake Windermere backed by Mts Ossa and Pelion West

From the Lake Will turn-off we pushed on quickly heading towards the dome of Pelion West as we passed through an undulating and open landscape of button-grass, low shrubs, scrubby pines and eucalypts, and tarns gleaming in the sunlight. On the gradual descent toward Lake Windermere, we were passed by a couple of independent walkers, racing to the public hut at Windermere in the hope of getting in early to get a bunk space for the night. We saw this a few times and were glad that we knew exactly where we were sleeping and could take time on the route to smell the roses. Only two days and already I am a bit elitist, I know - it is so easy to slip over to the dark side (NB this competition for space is no longer necessary as walkers now have to register and there is a daily limit to numbers starting the track, which effectively guarantees everyone who wants it a bed in a public hut).

By the time we reached Lake Windermere, the water of this large alpine lake was looking very inviting. We accepted and whipped off our walking gear for a swim, but not for long - it was also very cold. The lake's picturesque pine-lined shore was a good place for lunch under the watchful eye of a local wombat.

A final glimpse of Barn Bluff

The beautiful shore of Lake Windermere

A touch of colour on the moor

A quick dip in the cold lake waters

So what are you lot up to?

Back on the track south of Lake Windermere

From Lake Windermere, we once again found ourselves undulating across open button grass country, scattered with small eucalypts, and heading ever closer to the increasingly dominating profile of Pelion West and beyond it, Mt Ossa the highest peak in Tasmania.

A long section of boardwalk took us across the boggy Pine Forest Moor to reach a small patch of tea-tree forest, where Ellis once again found an unmarked sidetrack that headed east through the tall trees for a few hundred metres to the forest edge, where tucked into the shelter of the trees, looking out across the button grass flats lay Pine Forest Moor Hut.

Board-walked track heading across Pine Forest Moor towards Pelion West

Out of the grassland and into the forest

Heading toward Pine Forest Moor Hut

White wine on the helipad at Pine Forest Moor

Another gourmet dinner courtesy of Ellis and Simon

Here waiting for us was the already anticipated scent of coffee and scones - it really is a pleasant way to finish a day on the track. We had plenty of time to relax in the warm sunshine taking in the views out over the golden grass plains towards Mt Oakleigh. Another glass of chilled Tasmanian white on the helipad perhaps, before we go in for our second night of gourmet dining.

Pine Forest Moor Hut to Pelion Plains Hut (14km - 920m ascent – 1010m descent)

The sun had set on a glorious day and it rose on another - blue sky, puffy white cloud and barely a breath of wind. Three of us were up early enjoying the morning light on button-grass plains - a textured quilt of gold and green. Beyond lay the dark silhouette of Pelion West and that was our destination. Ellis had suggested a side-trip to climb it today and Susan and I took up the offer. The fair Nello and the others opted for a sleep in and leisurely stroll directly to Pelion Plain Hut.

Looking across the button grass to Mt Pelion West

Golden light on Pine Forest Moor

The three of us headed off back through the grove of tea-trees and on to the Overland Track, soon reaching the eastern slopes of the mountain. Once again, Ellis found the faint track that headed off to the west and the ascent of Pelion West was underway. The narrow eroded footpath took us on a gradual climb across the northern slopes, before we took on the north face more directly, scrambling up the steep rocky slope.

A final clamber over giant blocks of dolerite and we were at the summit - what glorious views in all directions. To the north, we could see the route we had taken as far back as Cradle Mountain, to the east lay the Lemonthyme and Mersey Valleys while to the south lay our path ahead between Pelion East and Mt Ossa. What a great spot to be on my 50th birthday, on the roof of Tasmania!

Rest stop on the way up to Pelion West

On top of Pelion West

We enjoyed our time on our rocky perch in the morning sun, as did the many bronze alpine skinks out sunning themselves and warily checking out these rare intruders. Reluctantly we left, retracing our steps to rejoin the Overland Track and continue south.

Steep scramble to the summit

Dolerite spires of Pelion West

Basking in the sun on the summit 1

Basking in the sun on the summit 2

Panorama from the summit of Pelion West (Pelion East, Cathedral Mountain and Mt Ossa)

View out over the valleys to the east

The track meandered beneath the forest canopy, winding its way around the base of the mountain and slowly down to Frog Flats, an open reedy area and the lowest part of the track. Sadly this meant a climb, which followed as soon as we forded the upper reaches of the River Forth.

North across the plains to Cradle Mountain

Tasmanian waratah in flower

Descent to Frog Flats

Mountain rockets at Frog Flat

Forth River ford

The long and steady climb brought us up to (Old) Pelion Hut, a public hut beneath the sheer rock walls and spires of Mt Oakleigh. Nearby lay Fossil Creek, reknowned for the variety of fossils found in its stony bed. Simon, leading the other half of our party, had stopped to explore this fascinating area, but for some reason I passed through quickly without taking a photo of a fossil (to my 12-year old, if not eternal, regret).

The stony bed of Fossil Creek

Mt Oakleigh across the button-grass plain

We were now heading south across the button grass of the Pelion Plain, with Mt Oakleigh at our back, but not for long. Just off the track again, to the west, was our destination for the day - Pelion Plain Hut. The fair Nello and the others were already there relaxing and enjoying the afternoon sunshine. Little did I know, that she had spilt the beans and told Simon that it was my birthday.

That night after delicious dinner, out came a big birthday cake, that he had just whipped up, complete with five candles (one for each decade). So I didn't avoid a party after all, though I confess that celebrating with just eight people in the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness is the sort of party I like. Thanks, everyone, today was a wonderful birthday.

My surprise birthday cake (courtesy of Simon)

Pelion Plains Hut to Kia Ora Hut (12.5km - 760m ascent – 810m descent)

Well, it had to happen. The long-term weather patterns here indicate that it rains at least one day in two and is clear on only one day in ten, even at this time of year. We had just had three blue sky days in a row, already more than our fair share, so to wake up and see a grey sky was not too disheartening. Overnight, a big cloud band had rolled in, but at least it wasn't threatening to rain on us.

Mossy roots of an old myrtle beech

Our route this morning took us slowly up Douglas Creek and, for the first time, we found ourselves walking in temperate rain forest - where the dark trunks of beech myrtles rose up out of the uneven forest floor, gnarly with moss-covered roots and fallen timber, to close out the sky with its canopy of small dark leaves. It was a quiet world, sombre and green, where curious plants and fungi grew on tree trunk and soil. We loved it.

In the dark forest

Mossy trunk

Myrtle orange fungus

As the climb continued we emerged from the forest and onto Pelion Pass, the broad saddle that lay between Mt Ossa and Pelion East. At the high point of the pass we reached a junction of tracks and stopped to have a quick bite and build up our energy reserves - we were to head off on a side-trip and climb Tasmania's highest peak - Mt Ossa.

The side-track led us up through the scrub to the base of Mt Doris, mountain by name but not much more than a hump on the spur leading to Ossa. However, the southern slopes of Mt Doris are home to some wonderful cushion plant communities, scattered in the rocks amongst stunted shrubs and small tarns, like a Japanese garden in the wilderness. We took our time skirting across this slope, both to appreciate the beauty and get our breath for the steep climb ahead.

Crossing the slopes of Mt Doris

Cushion plant mosaic

Japanese garden on Mt Doris

Cushion plants amongs the rocks

Sun dew in flower

A small tarn on Mt Doris

Crossing Mt Doris to start the climb
of Mt Ossa

Southern slopes of Mt Ossa

Ahead, across the saddle, we could see the ascent route climbing steeply up the eastern face of Mt Ossa. Soon we were on it, pushing our way slowly up a long shute of rocky scree to reach a cleft which from below looked like the high point of the mountain. It was a false summit - the top of Mt Ossa lay a little further west across the big slabs of dolerite that formed a small plateau peaking at its northern rim.

Looking back down the ascent gully to
Pelion East

Our companions de route on the false summit of Ossa

Looking across the rocky northern face to the true summit of Ossa

We picked our way across the blocks of orange and grey rock, spattered with black and white lichen to reach the high point, at 1617m the top of Tasmania. All around lay range after range of mountains, their rugged profiles fading into the distance and nowhere a sign of "civilisation" - the views were simply superb, even beneath a grey and cloud-filled sky.

On top of Mt Ossa (1617m)

Looking south across the Du Cane Range and The Acropolis to Mt Olympus

The endless ranges of mountains

View over the mountains towards distant Frenchman's Cap

Panorama over the summit plateau of Mt Ossa to the western ranges

We spent quite a bit of time on the summit plateau, enjoying not only the views but the mosaics of cushion-plant communities that had colonised this harsh environment - spectacularly moulded about the rocky contours in various shades of green occasionally grey, and speckled with tiny white flowers. It may only be a bit over 1600m high, but the top of Mt Ossa is an alpine wonderland.

Alpine plant community of the summit plateau

Cushion plants on Mt Ossa

A fine example of cushion plants in flower

The top of Mt Ossa is not a place one wants to leave, but exposed to a capricious climate on the roof of Tasmania is also not a place one wants to stay. We retraced our steps back to the track junction at Pelion Pass, arriving some four hours after we had left it.

Forest below Cathedral Mountain

The ghosts of Pinestone Valley

From here, we once again followed the Overland Track as it descended into the forests of Pinestone Valley, walled in by the steep slopes and rock walls of the surrounding mountains. It looked like this was once the domain of large pines (as the name suggests), but a fire had reduced many of them to bleached dead trunks being slowly swallowed up by a thicket of scoparia.

Crossing another low ridge brought us to the lovely mixed forest in the valley of Kia Ora Creek, backed by the fluted rock walls of Cathedral Peak. Here too was our hut for the night and, as we had come to expect, it was secluded away in the shelter of a stand of eucalypts, with views from its front out over the Mersey Valley and Cathedral Mountain. After a cool grey day, it was extra nice to find ourselves in the cosy interior of the hut, showered and clean, warm and content after another delicious three-course meal.

And was that a star I saw twinkling in the dark sky, as I looked outside just before bed?

Kia Ora Hut to Windy Ridge Hut (11km - 460m ascent – 450m descent)

I woke quite early and looked out -what was that bright light? The sun had returned and was shining brightly through the east-facing windows of our hut - we were back to blue sky days. "Happy Christmas", I said. "Happy Christmas" the fair Nello replied. We got dressed and wandered down to the kitchen - it was true that we had forgotten to put our stockings out, but Santa and his helper (aka Ellis and Simon) had visited anyway. In the middle of the floor was a Christmas tree made of coat-hangers and pink tinsel, and beneath it a box of home-made Tasmanian fudge for each of us walkers. "Happy Christmas one and all!"

Morning sunshine bathes Kia Ora Hut

A pair of swallows welcome us to the deck

Ellis and Simon with their Christmas tree

We all had a Christmas breakfast out on the deck of the hut, basking in the brilliant morning sunshine as it painted the profile of Cathedral Mountain a pale blue. Then it was back to business and we headed off once more on the track.

Christmas breakfast on the deck

Cathedral Mountain in the early morning light

Du Cane Hut

Leaving the hut, we were quickly back amongst the big trees, drier eucalypt forest at first changing into rain forest just before we emerged at the small clearing holding Du Cane Hut. Built in 1910 beneath the rocky ramparts of Falling Mountain by an animal trapper, it is one of the oldest in the park and is not used for overnight stays. However, it makes a very good spot for morning tea and a quick nap.

The fair Nello takes a nap

Path beneath the myrtle beech

D'Alton Falls

Rain forest creek

Nello and Ken inspect a fallen giant

Fergusson Falls

Pandani and eucalytus on Du Cane Gap

From Du Cane Hut we plunged back into the richest and most impressive myrtle beech forest of the walk - cool and dark with the odd sunny patch where a mighty tree had recently fallen and created a crack in the canopy (as Leonard Cohen would say, that's where the light gets in). It was uplifting to walk in this quiet and mossy landscape, meandering between the gnarled roots of forest giants and crossing the tinkling streams that flowed down toward the Mersey River. It is a pity that the beauty of this forest is so hard to capture in a photo.

Crossing a stream in the rain forest

The upper reaches of the Mersey are reknowned for their waterfalls and, deep in the forest, we turned off the main track to follow a sidepath that zig-zagged down to the river to check two of them out. The first we visited were the 20m Fergusson Falls, before following the river downstream along a slippery path to the 25m multi-tiered D'Alton Falls.

Both were equally impressive; heard before they were seen, as sparkling plumes of water plunged over the dark rocks of a narrow ravine surrounded by the deep green of the temperate rain forest (only one photo of each - if I'd had a digital camera then, I would probably have taken a dozen or more). This is one place where it is better to be in wet weather, as the river can really thunder over the falls after heavy rain.

Mixed myrtle beech and eucalyptus forest

After retracing our steps, we began the steady climb up to Du Cane Gap, leaving the rain forest behind for eucalypt, pine and pandanus as we crossed the pass between the Du Cane and Travellers Ranges. (Just a bit for the next trivia night and for connisseurs of the amber fluid, Du Cane Gap is part of the Boags-Cascade Divide - water flowing northwards from the gap is used to produce northern Tasmania's Boags Beer, while that flowing south heads toward the Cascade Brewery in Hobart. In the days before globalised market places, such things were important tribal markers).

From the gap it was a steady and occasionally steep descent down through myrtle beech and tall eucalypts, past the old Windy Ridge public hut (now pulled down and replaced by the modern Bert Nichols Hut a little further on) to reach Windy Ridge (private) Hut set in a cirque surrounded by the peaks of the Du Cane Range. It was our last night on the track - a last chance to enjoy the ambience of these mountain huts, their well-stocked larders used so creatively by our guides to prepare the delicious meals we had eaten, a last chance to sample another vintage of Tasmanian red or white and a last chance to enjoy the company of our fellow walkers and guides. The last night on a long walk is always a bit sad in that regard.

Windy Ridge Hut to Lake St Clair (10.5km - 90m ascent – 240m descent)

Blue sky and puffy white clouds greeted us when we woke. We were going to get to the end of the Overland Track without having to put on our wet weather gear - apparently quite a rare feat. We set off early, as we had an appointment with the Lake St Clair ferry at 11 am, but there was no rush. It was an easy downhill stroll beneath the tall trees, passing mainly through drier eucalyptus forest with the occasional damper gully where trees of the rain forest still grew.

The different species of eucalyptus

Wet gully crossing

Glimpses of the rock walls and spires of Mt Geryon and The Acropolis appeared through the gaps in the trees, as we headed south down the valley of the Narcissus River, past the grassy flat known as The Bowling Green and over a series of drier rises, with their tall eucalyptus, and wetter gullies containing pockets of myrtle and pine. Eventually we reached a section of boardwalk, which led us across the marshy river flats to an impressive suspension bridge across the Narcissus - one person at a time please.

Crossing the Narcissus River

The Bowling Green

Narcissus Valley resident

Narcissus Hut

From the bridge, it was but a short distance along the river to reach Narcissus Hut. We stayed just long enough to check out this quaint old hut before heading on down the last five minutes to the little wooden dock where the river flowed out into Lake St Clair. After 74 km (including side-trips) our six-day crossing was over.

Quiet reach of the Narcissus River

A quick dip in Lake St Clair

The dock was a great spot to sit and relax as we waited for the launch that would take us to Cynthia Bay at the far end of the lake and back to civilisation. It wasn't so great for Ellis though - so sure was he that we would be walking in the rain sometime during the past six days, that he promised to jump into Lake St Clair fully clothed if we didn't. Now that is something you don't forget and we dutifully reminded him. Being a man of honour, he leapt in off the dock with an almighty splash and then claimed how good it was. With the warm sun shining, I stripped off and jumped in - wooh! 12°C is very chilly, but not surprising given this is Australia's deepest lake! For Ellis, revenge was sweet, but he was right - it was very refreshing.

The Du Cane Range - viewed from Lake St Clair

The launch arrived and we boarded for the pleasant trip down the length of Lake St Clair - memories of the trip rushing by as the mountains of the Lake St Clair-Cradle Mountain World Heritage Area slowly receded behind us. It had been a great trip; diverse and magnificent scenery, the sense of isolation that you crave when walking, plus the comforts of home, courtesy of Cradle Huts - thanks go to Ellis and Simon for being such knowledgeable and good-nature guides, as well as excellent cooks, and for putting in that little bit of extra attention on birthday and Christmas that makes a trip special. Also thanks to our walking companions - Bob, Carol, Susan and Ken - whose pleasant company we shared for the past six days.

It certainly was a memorable 50th birthday celebration. In fact, in writing this up 12 year later, it is remarkable how much memory a single photo can trigger - perhaps the detail is missing, but the overarching memory and the emotion of the time can still be recalled. I guess that is why I keep on writing and why the fair Nello and I keep on walking.