13km, 100-150m ascend and descend, 9 hours, grade: medium/hard
We started early again, getting up before sunrise. We had hopes to get through a valley called the Never Never today. Frost was still covering everything and that’s especially “fun” when jumping into your shorts and putting on those icy gaiters…
Still in the shadow we started walking, the sun tickling the far side of Lake Adelaide. The track is easy to follow but hard to walk. There are many slippery roots crossing the path, swampy patches and short but steep detours from the shore.
The sun started to warm us when we had reached the southern end of Lake Adelaide. It became clear that we would not attempt the Never Never today. For all we knew there are no suitable camping spots in that valley. Our new goal was Junction Lake Hut.
We crossed the partly swampy, partly rocky area between Lake Adelaide and Lake Meston. From here on the water drains directly into the Mersey River which forms a huge bend west and then northwards. Lake Adelaide drains into Lake Louisa and then also into the Mersey via a much shorter route. It always feels special to me to see the humble beginnings of a river, to imagine the way the water would take before it finally drains into the sea.
There are suitable camping spots at the south end of Lake Adelaide but I would suggest to walk on for another hour to the north end of Lake Meston. This would make a truly wonderful spot for a tent, possibly for more than one day. The area is a few meters above the water, had nice flat grassy patches and even a little, private beach with sand and all. I would think that leeches are less of a problem there. Do I really still need repeat how stunningly beautiful the area is?
Lake Meston Hut looks like a capable hut. I think I’d still sleep in my tent though. One never knows what lives in those old walls. It certainly makes a good spot for the night in case it rains. Fagus in all its golden glory became more frequent. The track is easy to follow but roots can make it slow going once again.
Soon thereafter the track enters the Mayfield Flats, a comparable big, flat area with Junction Lake at its lowest point. Its quite fascinating really, large moor patches are intervened with rocky ridges coming down from the direction of Mt Rogoona. The ridges are easy walking where the moors can dictate a slow pace. The beauty lies in the diversity and the huge open spaces usually only present over lakes or above the tree line.
Unnecessary to say that the sun was again slowly approaching the western horizon. The track becomes a trail without markers. Sometimes its very easy to follow but then it peters out, becomes faint, looses itself before it’s found again. Sometimes it turns out it was a wombat track we followed, clearly recognizable by suddenly heading through an opening in the bush unsuitable to humans. We did a lot of backtracking but finally arrived at Junction Lake where we found a dry spot high above the water. We didn’t care to find the hut any more but set up camp. This had been a long and sunny day. I decided to quickly wash myself only to pick some 10 leeches off me afterwards. We enjoyed a large dinner with soup, a freeze dried meal with extra mashed potatoes. Half a liter of hot tea and some short bread was consumed as well. We had been walking for 9 hours…
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)
• TASMAP: 4236 Cathedral (1:25000) also for alternative exits north to Mersey River Road
• WWW: Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania: Cradle Mountain - Lake St Claire
• WWW: Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania: Walls of Jerusalem
• KMZ: Google Earth export
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