10km, 150m ascend, 250 descend, 6-8 hours, grade: hard
This was the big day, the most remote we had ever walked. We were excited. And started walking again right at sunrise. The moor grass all covered in frost, brushing over our skin between gaiters and shorts. What a beautiful morning! It didn’t take us long to get to the top of Clarke Falls. The decent was a different walk altogether. This is very, very steep, wet and with hardly anything to hold onto. A fall here could well be fatal. We did make it to the bottom but it was not easy. Clarke Falls does look impressive though.
What came next was a combination of strange descriptions by John Chapman, missing features in our TASmap and, yes, inexperience. In hindsight we could have avoided the next 4 hours of extremely hard bush bashing. But let me start somewhere not too far from Clarke Falls at something which looked all too much like a waterfall. We knew we had to cross the Mersey River before McCoy Falls. We couldn’t find anything in John’s book about another waterfall and even our TASmap didn’t show any sign of a waterfall between Clarke Falls and McCoy Falls. Yes, we were wondering if we had already reached McCoy Falls… We weight up our options and it seemed better to cross too early than too late. Unnecessary to say it wasn’t McCoy Falls at all. Since it’s not named I shall call it Danny Falls after my beloved girlfriend.
Come on, everywhere else in Australia this would be a waterfall, with a car park and a scenic lookout sign. Here it’s just the river.
Now we walked on the “wrong” side of the river. And boy was this hard going. It felt like we were the first people to walk over this ground, through those swamps and dense undergrowth. The leeches must have thought the same because they charged at us with such speed we had a hard time picking them all off. We didn’t count any more, but anything between 30 and 50 which we picked off our shoes and gaiters in the next 6 hours. When we finally reached the real McCoy Falls walking became so much easier. We could just follow a trampled trail, dodging some trees and bypassing mud holes. We gave Hartnett Falls a glance, irritated by the number of people. We had not seen anyone in the last three days…
Walking to Windy Ridge Hut was easy even though we had expected something like a “Great Walk” in New Zealand. Lets say, Tasmanian tracks, even the most popular one, are much rougher then a “Great Walk”. As always when we’re exhausted we were not hungry any more and only ate a soup and some cookies for dinner. Windy Ridge Hut was a welcome change to the cold and wet tent.
You’re responsible for your own safety. Those resources are for illustration purpose and don’t replace a map, experience and common sense.
• Book: Cradle Mountain Lake St Claire and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks (Chapman & Siseman)
• TASMAP: 4235 Du Cane (1:25000)
• WWW: Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania: Cradle Mountain - Lake St Claire
• KMZ: Google Earth export
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