Writing On The Walls.

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Writing On The Walls.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 6:53 pm

A WALLS OF JERUSALEM TRIP REPORT.

I’m beginning to think it might be handy if I start posting my arrival times at Hobart Airport on this forum as just the simple act of booking a flight seems to have the power to trigger a bushfire, floods or some form of cataclysmic weather event.

And so it was in the first week of November. Rain, wind, icy temperatures and snow down to 600mts at times. Apparently winter wasn’t going to give up with out a fight. On the morning I had hoped to start a walk somewhere in the highlands I wimped out and opted for a leg stretch up Collins Cap. The view I got towards Mt Field from the top of the Cap looked more like a scene from mid Winter than Spring and gave me little hope of getting in a multi day walk in the narrow time frame available. But eventually the weather gods stopped grumbling and a few days in between cold fronts began to look do-able.
The Walls of Jerusalem became my chosen destination and from the very beginning the plan was exceptionally loose. With a very hectic pre Christmas schedule looming this trip was always going to be about relaxing and just enjoying being out there again. Late starts, low km’s and plenty of time to “smell the roses’ along the way became the number 1,2 and 3 priorities. As I drove over the new Fish River Bridge in my mind I was already out there, leaving the crud of everyday life behind. So it came as a bit of a rude shock to find some complete bozzo trying to U turn a 16 metre long caravan and F250 in the Walls carpark! The 6.0 litre diesel roared and belched as gravel sprayed off the wheels of the four- wheely as he somehow managed to turn around. He finally exited the carpark to reveal a previously unnoticed walking company bus parked behind him off loading a fairly sizable group of walkers, all no doubt heading in the same direction as me. It appeared my zen moment had occurred a little bit prematurely. Soon the dust settled, the walking co. group strode purposefully off into the bush and I found myself alone in the carpark. That tightly wound spring inside of me finally started to slacken just a bit.
I got started and despite giving them a sizable head start I didnt have to go far before coming across the paying customers again. A brief stop was being had to remove coats, adjust straps and no doubt reset some personal settings. the majority of this group wore large face spitting smiles and looked eager to be out there but I could also detect an air of trepidation and reluctance in a few. And I swear I passed a couple of women with fresh lipstick and eyeliner on! Trappers Hut came up much faster than expected and I realised I still had a lot of work to do to release that ‘gotta get there’ attitude. Above Trappers Hut a cold wind blew from the tops of the western horizon. Large amounts of snow blanketing the peaks of the OLT bore testament to how bleak things must have been in the preceeding few days. In previous trips to the Walls I have tended to blast through Solomons Jewels as a bit of a thoroughfare, eager to get into the Walls proper so this time I was intent on having a better look around and crossed over to the opposite side on a few occasions to climb the small ridge for an alternate view of Clummner Bluff and the scenery to the east. It is such a beautiful little area. With plenty of time for photo stops and just sitting down to take in the view I ended up taking over 5 hours before reaching Wild Dog Creek. I deliberately walked past the centre tent platform on the lowest level. Thanks to an overnight dump of snow and a sleeping bag that was punching well below its rated temperature range this platform was the scene of one of the longest and coldest nights I’ve had anywhere a few years ago. Just before dark I took a wander over the low saddle to the west of the tent platforms to take in the view. I heard some sort of a commotion behind me and turned to see 2 wombats having quite an aggressive disagreement. The bigger one of the 2 had a well advanced case of mange. The other one, a large healthy looking specimen must have intruded onto the other ones turf as he soon turned tail and bolted, maybe carrying the seeds of his very own mange infection. And on it goes............. So sad to witness.
After a good nights sleep and a lazy start to the day I was finally on the move again and passing through Herrods Gates and into Walls valley. It was so relaxing to have no real itinerary and just wander aimlessly along. A few stubborn slabs of snow hung on tenaciously in the deeper cracks and crevices of the higher peaks but the sun was out and it was a stunning spring day. There was still enough snow to be choking the final chute up to Solomons Throne so I continued on to Dixons Kingdom where I found myself some dream acreage up in the pine forest with a million dollar view to set up my little home for the night. As I bent down to bang in a peg I forgot about the boiled egg I had in my pocket. The gentle crack followed by the yellow gooey mess that oozed out of my shorts made me realize that perhaps my eggs weren’t as ‘hard’ boiled as I thought! I spent the afternoon walking up to the top of Mt Jerusalem. On the way up I met up with the big group of walkers from the carpark. The happy faces in the group still looked as enthusiastic as ever. The stragglers however where starting to look a bit haggard. Thankfully though the 2 ladies I had passed the day before had found the opportunity to touch up their lippy and put on some new eyeliner, an act that no doubt provided them with a great degree of comfort. On the top of Mt Jerusalem I was amazed to see large numbers of tiny butterflies fluttering around. The fact that the slightest puff of wind had the potential to blast them several kilometres from their mates didn’t seem to be an issue with them. At the other end of the flight spectrum a large inquisitive wedgy soared in to check me out. When I pulled out my map and trusty compass to identify some of my surroundings I noticed my compass was waving around like one of Jack Sparrows hand me downs! It wasn’t happy to be sitting on a couple of billions tons of magnetic rock. The beautiful blue skies and a lack of afternoon haze made it pretty easy to identify the myriad of peaks and lakes I was looking at anyway.
I had been told by another walker that a strong aurora expected that night so just after dark I made my way back up to Damascuss Gate to see what I could see. As I sat just back off the track in the dark I noticed a lone head torch heading my way. It was the guy who had first told me about the impending aurora. Rather than scare the crap out of him I figured I would just sit silently until he passed but to my abject amusement he put his pack down just in front of me and set about getting his camera gear out. If he happened to look up and see me lurking in the dark I was sure he was going to have a heart attack so I had to let him know I was there. A casual “g’day mate” was enough to send his head torch flying and have him reaching for the poo shovel !! As it turned out the aurora didn’t occur until about 2 am and despite getting out of bed later on to check it out a thin veil of cloud spoilt the show.
After breakfast the next morning I took a stroll through the pencil pines above Dixons Kingdom. I had read that the oldest surviving trees in this forest were over one thousand years old. That meant that most of the trees I was wandering through had been there well before the colonisation of the nation. When that old sea dog Abel Tasman ordered the Heemskirk and Zeehan to drop anchor in Marion Bay some of these pines were already over 600 years old ! They had been firmly rooted in the same spot for well over 700 years on the day that James Cook sailed into Botany Bay. Stuff like that just does my head in! The world must have been such a different place when the seeds that these trees sprouted from were germinated. The entire forest had the appearance of an ancient battlefield. The strong were still standing, survivors of countless brutal battles against the elements but everywhere lay the dead or the dying, limbs ripped off, wearing the rictus of a slow and painful death. The fact that I was able to walk freely amongst trees that held so many secrets of the past wasn’t lost on me. If these had been artworks or 1000 year old works of literature, anything but trees, then they would be national treasures. Locked up in some secure vault where only the rich and priviliged would be afforded the opportunity to view them.
Around mid morning I dragged myself away from this amazing forest and set off in the direction of Lake Ball. A huge amount of water was flowing beneath my feet through a maze of underground aqua ducts and spillways as I made my way down Jaffa Vale. I emerged from another copse of ancient pines and came out onto the plains at the eastern end of the lake. It’s hard to imagine the difficulties some of the early stockmen must have faced herding their cattle and sheep up to summer grazing areas in the highlands but as the sun shone bright on Lake Ball it was very easy to imagine stock munching happily out on the open plain in front of me. Not long after re-entering the forest I came across the tiny Lake Ball Hut. An information board inside told the intriquing tale of Boy Miles. Of the hardships life had dealt him, his time as a Prisoner of War on the Burma Railway and his eventual retreat to a life of solitude in the high country. As I sat munching on some crackers and a few surviving boiled eggs out on the little peninsula in font of the hut I could almost sense the ghost of Boy Miles sitting quietly out there as he must have done countless times before. The track along the north shores of Lake Ball was strewn with tree roots and some rocky screes but there were also a number of large rock slabs over hanging the lake. Perfect platforms for lazing around on and taking in the scenery. At the western end of the Lake I entered another pine battlefield where the enemy had obviously been fire. The broken bodies of the dead were everywhere and there appeared to be no survivors.
Before leaving Hobart I had discovered an old police S & R Manual in a second hand bookshop. With plenty of time on hand I took it out and began completing a few of the navigation exercises set out in it. I would have to declare I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to using a map and compass properly but I gained a much better understanding of plotting a 6 figure Grid Reference, navigating around obstacles and transposing contour lines into scaled profiles. Over the next few days I took every opportunity to play around with my map and compass and began to feel much more confident with my ability to use both correctly. That little book wasn’t a bad $2.00 investment!
A short sharp descent soon lead from the saddle west of Lake Ball to the northern end of Lake Adelaide and I marvelled at how quickly the vegetation had shifted from alpine to predominantly eucalypt.
At the northern end of Lake Adelaide I discovered the remains of a few recent campfires which was rather disapointing given the damage I had witnessed from fire just over the hill. Even more dissappointing was the cache of limbs that appeared to have been stripped from standing trees. How do muppetts that do this sort of *&%$#! get out there in the first place ?
After cooking up some dinner by the lake shore I was returning to my tent in the shelter of the pines when something caught the corner of my eye. Only 4 or 5 metres to my left was a healthy looking wombat out foraging for his dinner. I stopped walking the minute I spotted him and to my suprise he stopped too. We stood eyeballing each other for a while before I figured I could slowly creep off to my tent about 20 metres away to get my camera and snap a few shots. But the minute I began moving he did too staying parrallel to my course for the tent. If I stopped, he stopped. When I started again so did he. We continued on in this crazy lock step for a while before he got sick of it and bolted. But not before stopping right outside the door of my tent and giving me one last surly glance over his shoulder! What is it they say about never working with kids or animals ?!! I eventually found his burrow but despite doing my best David Rabbit-Borough impersonations I never saw him again.
After another good nights sleep (3 in a row!!) I woke early for a day walk to the south. Leaving my tent and pack behind I set off down the track on the eastern side of Lake Adelaide. With lots of tree roots and small ups and downs the going was a bit tedious with the south end of the lake always appearing to be a long way off. But about halfway down the lake things levelled off a bit and the track opened out with excellent views to Mt Rogoona and the peaks beyond. Before long I was relaxing on the grassy area at the southern end of Lake Adelaide. This looked to be a much more user friendly campsite than the areas at the northern end. I continued southward across the open ground south of the lake as the day warmed up considerably. By the time Lake Meston came into view it was time for some lunch. In sticking with the ‘no particular place to be’ theme of this walk I promptly fell asleep in the warm sunshine. I’m not sure how long I was on the nod for but it was substantial and I had to get the skates on if I wanted to look further south. I continued on through a fairly overgrown areas of tea tree before finding the junction with the Lake Myrtle track and a bit further on Meston Hut. I hope to one day come in the Moses Creek Track and continue looking around in this area so after a brief stay I began retracing my steps back to Lake Adelaide. The return journey went much quicker than expected so I spent a bit of time before dinner looking for Mister Wombat or some of his mates again but they were all giving me the cold shoulder.
I woke the next morning to the raucous cacaphony of the resident Raven population and a fogged in Lake. Once the birds had done with their morning rituals the stillness and silence was complete. A pin drop could have been heard. By the time the fog had lifted and a gentle breeze was ruffling the reflections on the surface of the lake I was packed and ready to move. The plan had been to head up the Junction Lake Track back to Trappers Hut via Lake Loane but the vista up this valley looked a bit ordinary and I still had time on my side so I chose to return the way I had come around the shores of Lake Ball. It was a Saturday when I returned to Dixons Kingdom so I was expecting to see a few people around. As I warily side stepped the first Tiger Snake of the trip heading back up Jaffa Vale the Dixons Kingdom area came into view..........and there were tents EVERYWHERE! A walking club was spread out near the hut and up and down the boardwalk were dads and sons, guys with their girls and a vast array of solo enthusiasts. Seemingly anybody who could walk ( and some that couldn’t by the look of it!) After a bit of lunch I sat up in the pine forest watching a seemingly endless procession of walkers coming down the track. With lots of daylight available I decided to head off and find some quieter surroundings for the night. Apparently the rangers used to have a semi permanent camp tucked into the foot of the Wailing Wall so I took a stroll down in that direction and ended up finding a beautiful little patch of ground for the night.
The following morning was another perfect spring day and I was on the move fairly early. In addition to the walkers at Dixons Kingdom I noticed tents in the pines just north of Damascuss Gate, a single tent at the Pool of Bethesda and a tent directly behind the ‘No Camping’ sign in the pines below the west wall. It certainly was a popular place to be. Making my way back past Solomon’s Jewels and Trappers Hut I eventually arrived back at the carpark that had taken on the appearance of a thriving used car lot ! Dumping my pack in the boot of the car I was already in reflection mode. Over the last few days I hadn’t really walked that far, I hadn’t been exhausted and hadn’t become lost. I hadn’t had to slog up any huge gains in altitude or fight my way through un-yielding scrub..............I must be getting old because I really enjoyed every minute of it !!!

Driving back through Mole Creek heading for a pie at the Deloraine Bakery I started to wonder just how long it would be before that slack spring inside of me started to wind up again..................
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
Mechanic-AL
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Re: Writing On The Walls.

Postby whynotwalk » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 9:23 pm

Great write up Mechanic-AL - thanks for sharing. You’ve had a special experience in a wonderful place. When that spring gets too tight again, you’ll know where to come :-)

cheers

Peter
Solvitur ambulando (Walking solves it) - attributed to St Augustine, 4th century AD.
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Re: Writing On The Walls.

Postby ofuros » Sat 06 Jan, 2018 3:34 am

Enjoyable write up Al, brought back long forgotten memories of the area...without the multitudes. :wink:
Mountains view are good for my soul...& getting to them is good for my waistline !
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Re: Writing On The Walls.

Postby Nuts » Sat 06 Jan, 2018 2:59 pm

Mechanic-AL wrote:If these had been artworks or 1000 year old works of literature, anything but trees, then they would be national treasures. Locked up in some secure vault where only the rich and priviliged would be afforded the opportunity to view them.


Don't speak too soon.
Nice reading AL
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Re: Writing On The Walls.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 07 Jan, 2018 5:34 pm

.........and a few happy snaps,
looking west to the olt.jpg
Looking west to the OLT
looking west to the olt.jpg
Looking west to the OLT
Solomons Jewels.jpg
Solomon's Jewels
West Wall from the Pool of Bethesda.jpg
West Wall from the Pool of Bethesda
ancient scowl.jpg
Timeless Scowl
Dixons Kingdom pine forest.jpg
Dixon's Kingdom pine forest
Lake Adelaide.jpg
Lake Adelzaide
Looking West across Lake Adelaide.jpg
Across Lake Adelaide
fog lifting on Lake Adelaide.jpg
Fog lifting on the lake.
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: Writing On The Walls.

Postby taswegian » Mon 08 Jan, 2018 5:42 am

Interesting reading and viewing thanks.

The fires certainly devastated that area but apart from a few skeletons the area has recovered well. (considering the extent of damage)

Glad you were able to enjoy and replenish your 'victuals' and return safely.
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