FRIDAY 7 APRIL DELORAINE
We were up very early and left camp at 7.30am. Our goal for today was to achieve something I had wanted to do for the best part of forty years – walk into the Walls Of Jerusalem. I attempted it once before, with first husband and some friends, in 1970, but we had to turn back when fog rolled in.
We drove out through Mole Creek, along the Lake Rowallan road to the Fish River bridge. There, Truck would be left and we would take to the walking track.
Along the way, near Chudleigh, saw an enormous wood heap. We have commented, several times on our drives, on how many Tasmanian homes have huge stacked wood heaps, with the wood all neatly split and ready to use. It is almost an art form. This one took me several photo frames to scan right across it – would have to hold enough wood for about ten winters!
Where we left Truck seemed very remote, but that’s the only way to access the track.
Began the walk about 8.45am. Almost immediately, began the steady, steep climb up Howells Bluff – it took us just over two hours to reach the top of this. In 2kms, that section of track climbs some 500 metres. John went really well up this. I seemed to need to stop to rest more often than usual – my calf muscles have never done uphill very well and I always need breaks to ease their pain.
The old Trappers Hut was a most welcome sight, as it marked that the worst of the climb was over. Beyond there, the vegetation changed from treed slopes to alpine scrub and grasses with some snow gums and areas of pencil pines.
Once above the tree line, and on top of the Bluff, we had superb views to the Cradle Mountain area, to the west. Could pick out Cradle Mountain, then Barn Bluff.
Probably the first Europeans to venture regularly into this high plateau country were possum fur trappers, often battling small farmers and their offspring – like my Jackey’s Marsh family – who would supplement subsistence farming with money earned from skins. They blazed tracks, such as Warners Track, to go from down there up into this country. Later, some farmers from the same areas sent stock up to graze in summer – some families built huts for summer accommodation up here. Dixons Kingdom Hut was one such.
We walked past the series of small tarns and lakes called Solomons Jewels, then had to do another – lesser – climb up through Herods Gate, which is a gap in the range between Mt Ophel and the West Wall. Then we were into the Walls area, proper.
I did not know who actually named the Walls and the various landmarks, but they were obviously reminded of the real Walls of Jerusalem, for some reason. Many of the features have similar biblical names, although some of the names are Norwegian too, like Lake Solveig.
After Herods Gate, we continued on past Lake Salome, and on as far as the Pool of Bethesda, which was a beautiful little tarn, tucked in under the West Wall. This was about 7.5kms from the track start. It took us over 4 hours to get there.
I did not really recover properly from the prolonged climb up Howells Bluff. This was unusual for me as a few minutes rest normally gets the cramping out of my calves, then I am fine to go on and have no issues on flatter ground. But I had to keep stopping to rest and feel like I could go on again, even though the going was fine. My feet felt like blocks of lead for much of the way! It was a real effort to get as far as I did and I was quite worried about what might be wrong with me. The prospect of illness in this remote area was not a pleasant one!
We ate lunch at the Pool of Bethesda, in just the most wonderful setting, with the awesome West Wall to one side, The Temple to the other and the slight rise to Damascus Gate ahead of us, between them. I had a couple of honey sandwiches. We relaxed in this lovely spot for a while, though I still had the lurking worry about making it back.
The Pool of Bethesda had stands of pencil pines around it, and the reflections in the Pool were superb.
After about an hour’s break, I set off back, ahead of John, determined to get as far as I could before having to take a rest. But the break – and maybe the food – had gotten me back to normal, which was a great relief. So the only reason I had to stop was to wait for John to catch up and then we made a good solid pace back, taking only three hours.
The descent down Howells Bluff was really hard on the legs and knees. I discovered the hard way that a second toe nail was too long – it was really hurting from hitting the end of my boot by the time we got down. Suspected it would go black and fall off – would not be the first one to go from the same cause!
Reached Truck at 5pm.
That was a walk of about 15kms and very tough it was too. It would have been a great walk to do with the right gear for camping at least overnight up there and then continuing along further to Dixons Kingdom and maybe beyond. But we did see the real highlights of the central Walls area.
It was dark by the time we got back to camp. The drive there and back was 155kms.
The hot shower was wonderful! My legs felt quite feeble – the after effects of the track down Howells Bluff.
Tea was bought fish and chips.
It was so pleasing to have finally achieved this goal. So worth the effort. We were so lucky with the weather – to have a day with blue sky and sunshine and great visibility.
Given that I managed the return walk with none but the expected effects of a steep downhill walk, I could only conclude that my blood sugar levels had been depleted by the prolonged climb up Howells Bluff, and needed a much longer recovery period – and maybe some fuel – to properly get balanced again.