Adventure Weekend 2017
Well, that time of year had rolled around again. For me it’s like Christmas – A bunch of great mates, with Mountains in mind, heading out on a new adventure for 3 days every year.
This year we had chosen The Walls of Jerusalem region but more specifically, the area around Mt Rogoona and Cathedral Mountain. After the Tyndall Range in 2016 this one would have a lot to live up to. Logistically, this one was a bit more challenging. As chief organiser, I had planned the itinerary with Crawf with a start for Thursday morning. BUT after some work commitments popped up it ended up I would not be able to make it til Thursday night. The rest of the crew would still head in Thursday morning. No problem, I had a short cut in mind….
The rest of the team were away early, and headed off along the Lake Myrtle track from near Lake Rowallan. They headed in to Lake Myrtle and did a cheeky little Abel along the way – Nescient Peak to be exact. They talked it up but I guess I’ll have to wait to do it another time. They then spent the afternoon trekking to the campsite and then had some time on the shores of Lake Myrtle overlooking Mt Rogoona.
Meanwhile, I was stuck in Huonville but managed to hit the road in rainy conditions a touch after 2.30pm with a long drive ahead. I had a full tank of fuel, coffee and plenty of snacks to see me through the long drive. I drove the familiar road up over the lakes highway and down to Deloraine before heading into Lake Rowallan and down past its southern end right to the very end of the road. I arrived at my walk starting point, a few kilometres past where the rest of the team had commenced from, almost 5hrs after departing Huonville. A loong day! I was heading in to Lake Myrtle on the old Jacksons Creek Track. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too hard!
I was excited to be here and after a few minutes doing final checks, headed off up the track (Moses Creek track initially) at a reasonable plod by myself. It wasn’t long before I was at a sign in station and found the pad heading off up towards Myrtle along the old Jacksons creek track (which is no longer maintained). I easily followed this through open forest and climbed steadily. There was lots of fresh fern growth around the blackened trees which had seen a pretty intense fires two year before when this whole region saw some devastating fires. This lower Eucalypt forest looked like it was recovering well and as I gradually rose, the evidence of the fire dissipated.
It was still quite light, and there was a bit of drizzle about as I crested a rise and arrived at a narrow open plain. I stopped for a minute to put my rain coat and get the radio out. I radioed base camp and they came in loud and clear. I must be fairly close. I chucked the pack back on and put the foot down, following the plain before entering some low standing scrubby forest and eventually coming out alongside the lake. It was now getting dark but I still didn’t need a head torch. From here I followed the northern edge of the lake before arriving at its eastern terminus. Still no sign of the crew. I stepped down onto the grassy plain beside the lake and headed slightly inland before finding my old mate Ferg hiding behind a bush with his back to me. ‘Boo!’ I yelled. He’d been trying to scare me but the hunter had become the hunted! Leading me in to camp, Ferg called on the others and the welcome party came out applauding. It was good to be home! The walk had taken under 2 hours and by 8.30pm I was sitting down to dinner been regailed of the days adventures!
We awoke on day 2 to misty drizzle. No sign of the peak and only a little of the lake. The plan today was to move on so we all packed up over brekky and headed off by 8.30am. We followed the track towards Lake Meston and 15 minutes after starting headed off the track and up the lower slopes of Mt Rogoona. We all had raincoats on but made good progress and after an hours walking, we dumped our packs for the final dash to the summit of the peak. From here, we followed the open plateau up to the summit of Mt Rogoona arriving 1hr 45mins after departing camp. The weather was awful with strong winds and sideways rain. We didn’t hang around long and after summit photos we headed back to the packs.
Once relocating the packs we continued on making a beeline in the direction of Lake Meston, and the track. We were back on the track about an hour after leaving the summit. As we had now dropped down the forest returned and we trudged onwards along the track for a while before arriving at Lake Meston Hut. Here, we met some other walkers who were just hanging out for a few days. After a brief chat we continued on as we didn’t want to stand around getting cold.
It was about another hour and a half before we arrived at Junction Lake Hut. We were still in two minds as to what to do so we stopped here for lunch. The weather cleared a little and we made a decision to find a campsite nearby and maybe do the Mountains of Jupiter in the afternoon. After lunch, we wandered around the northern side of Junction Lake. The nice open campsites near the hut were already occupied so we went on a mission further around the northern edge before eventually finding enough room to camp among some trees near the start of the Mersey River (i.e. the drainage point for the lake). This would do. We arrived here about 6 hours after departing camp that morning.
The rest of the afternoon, the rain and mist had settled in for good. We postponed any plans for Mountains of Jupiter and would wait and see what tomorrow would bring. Under the comfort of our very large tarp we enjoyed some healthy banter and a game of darts on my magnetic dart board!
Day 3 and little had changed weather wise. The mist was still hanging around as was the rain. I have to say I was feeling pretty uninspired and was keen to get to the Cathedral Plateau in the event the weather lifted. Mountains of Jupiter were at the back of my mind and today I really couldn’t be bothered. After a fairly lazy morning and talking with the rest of the group, 3 of the team would head up the Mountains of Jupiter while the rest of us moved on to find a campsite at Tent Tarn on the Cathedral Plateau. The others would then catch up.
We gradually packed up camp in the rain and all headed off just before 10am. The mountain team said their goodbyes while we headed north along the track to cloister lagoon. We were expecting this section to be fairly scrubby but didn’t find the going too bad. There was some nice walking through grassy areas then forest and more open areas before arriving at Cloister lagoon. We followed the lagoon just above its eastern side before arriving at its northern end for a rest 2.5 hours after our departure from Junction Lake. The rain continued and we weren’t looking forward to the next section scrub bashing up to Chalice Lake. Oh well, time to go, so in to the scrub I bashed. We made quick progress and were at the top of the climb to the plateau inside half an hour. Nice! It was then nice and fairly open walking across the plateau before descending to the souther end of Chalice Lake. Around this time the mountain team radioed in. They had completed their attack on the peak and were back at Junction Lake and now heading our way. They wouldn’t be too far behind!
From here we planned to pretty much take a straight line towards Tent Tarn. The first section from the lake was quite thick scrub but it didn’t take long to get through to another open section. We then started making our way up a gully following a strong pad. We thought we could follow this and then go across to Tent Tarn. At this point the terrain started getting steeper and the scrub thicker. We persevered and 20 minutes after heading into the gully we found we were in severe scrub – some of the worst that I have encountered. I was not keen on back tracking so we battle on, eventually arriving at the top of a small ridge after half an hour. We were spent – it had been a real struggle. Plus the rain hadn’t eased. Happy days!
At this point we heard on the radio from the mountain team again. We advised them to stick to the edge of Chalice lake and avoid a direct line to tent tarn – ‘take the long way as this is shit!’
We followed the ridge around and eventually got a visual on Tent Tarn. We traversed across and down to it arriving 5.5 hours after departing Junction Lake – longer than we expected. The weather still awful, it took us a while to find a decent camp but eventually found one a couple of hundred meters from the tarn’s south eastern corner. As we dumped our packs and began to setup we saw the mountain team coming up from the valley below. We’d radioed them a few times but hadn’t heard back. They arrived about half an hour after us. My first question – ‘how was it from Cloister to here?’. ‘No worries, nice and open’ was the reply from Crawf. I stared at them in disbelief. Hmmm. We had chosen a very bad route. Oh well, nice to get amongst the scrub for a bit. When I also queried why no response on the radio for the last little while they discovered they had lost the radio! Shit, it could be anywhere.
We setup camp and again enjoyed being out of the rain under the tarp. Cards and darts were the order of the day. As a surprise the boys even presented me with a birthday cake after dinner (candle and all!). It was my birthday the next day. This is what adventure weekend’s all about – great mates!
We all were pretty tired after a big day and retired early to bed.
We again woke to the sound of rain. The weather was not going to improve. A couple of the boys thought about heading up Cathedral Mountain but the weather soon turned them off. Keen to escape the awful weather we were all on the track by 9am heading out via Chalice Lake and the Moses Creek track. We made quick progress and loved the walk down from Chalice Lake to Grail falls following the creek. We even got a couple of broken views to the north. We arrived at Chapter Lake about 1hr 45mins after leaving camp and from here it was an easy walk downhill to the car. We arrived back at the car 2hrs 45mins after leaving camp.
All in all another successful albeit wet Adventure weekend! As usual none of us could wait until the 2019 instalment!
STATS (Using Suunto Spartan Ultra)
Time 1hr 50mins
Time 7hrs 21min
Time 6hrs 55min
Time 2hrs 48min
Ascent 88m, Descent 681m
FULL GALLERY BELOW