Saturday 4 April 2015

Four Lakes and a Mountain: Part 1

[Ready at the start of the track] 

Five days, four lakes, one mountain: it’s a neat equation. It’s also an equation that might hint at a certain proportion of wet to dry; of sloppy to solid.

On day 1 that discovery is still ahead of us. For now the overcast, dry, cool weather looks perfect for walking. For me, after a summer largely spent recovering from injury, the prospect of being out walking again is bliss.

Four of us have left Hobart at a civilized hour, travelled up the Midland Highway, then on through Mole Creek, making for the end of the Mersey Forest Rd. Ahead of is “a bit of a climb” for a few hours. We’ll be taking the Moses Creek track to our first lake, Chapter Lake.

There we expect to find Tim D, who has promised to walk ahead to claim the campsite and “repel all other comers” in piratical fashion. But it’s a Wednesday during school and uni term, and Chapter Lake is not the most sought-after campsite in the state, so we’re thinking Tim won’t have much swashbuckling to do.

Our group is mostly old hands, the only newbie being a Victorian named Jonathan. He’s a friend of Tim O, and comes as his surrogate. Tim O had long planned to be on this walk, but sadly a severely frozen shoulder means he can’t even raise his arm let alone a pack.

["Long John" gets into his stride]
We quickly dub Jonathan “Long John”, not because he’s especially tall, but because it fits in with the pirate nonsense we carry on with on these walks. Jonathan has done some walking in Tasmania before, but never in this area.

Our walk starts on an old logging track, wide and easy, though choked in a few places by regrowth and tree falls. It’s almost an hour before we are clear of the regrown forest and climbing steeply into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. I keep finding bits of track that remind me of the more popular routes in that park. At one point I even say “this is just like the Walls” before realising it technically IS the Walls, albeit a less-walked part of that park.

[Pink coral fungi (Ramaria sp) along the track]
The steepness tests my recovering ankle and knee, and I am soon travelling slowly. I resort to distractions. Apart from the usual scroggin and water stops, there’s always botanising. And here “Long John” helps, being full of questions, as he’s unfamiliar with the area’s natural history. Flora aside, it’s almost peak fungi season too, and when you add some geomorphological oddities (glacial erratics and a disappearing tarn), our progress slows admirably.

[Fruit of the mountain blue berry (Billardiera longiflora)]
Jim has been the main planner of this trip, and he’s happy to be reminded it’s supposed to be a “hands-in-pockets” walk. That’s partly in compensation for the epic Mt Anne trip that saw my early-January injury, and partly because Jim prefers this kind of walk. Keep the walk times short, throw in a hut or two, and Jim’s a happy man.

Suitably distracted by our surrounds, we top out surprisingly quickly. I’m always amazed that no matter how many times I walk a track – and this is at least my third time on this one – I can never accurately predict when such points will come. But I welcome it, and start the descent to Chapter Lake. The growing sound of Grail Falls, which flanks the campsite, tells us we’re close.

[A glimpse of Grail Falls near Chapter Lake camp]
We are soon greeting Tim D in the forested campsite near the lake. He has set up camp, and repelled boarders, as promised. We set up our tents then gather at Tim’s kitchen set-up. It has good log seats with a sheltering tarp above. There is rain forecast, and a couple of us recall the word snow getting a mention, so we’re glad of a tarp to gather beneath.

[Together under the tarp at Chapter Lake]
After dinner we retire to our tents and slip into sleep to the accompanying roar of the waterfall. That may make it hard to know when or if the rain has come – which may be no bad thing. Let tomorrow take care of itself. 

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