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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Solitary Hut, Walls of Jerusalem Hike - Day One

I have never seen so much Wallaby shit in my life.

When I was walking up Wild Dog Creek from the saddle between Lake George Howe and Golden Gate, to the Wild Dog Creek camping area, that just seemed like an appropriate way to start this post - the first in a few.

See, at the time of writing this post, I'm at Wild Dog Creek. It's approaching zero degrees fast, but I'm toasty in my Marmot Helium wrapped in my thermals, and a bottle of warm water in the bag at my feet.

Best idea I was ever given on a Bushwalking forum. Apparently warm water in a Platypus Bottle works better. Sounds genius to me!

Anyway... Today started with a quick climb up to Trappers Hut - a fair climb of some 500 - 600 meters over two kilometers, however mostly gradual apart from a steep pinch close to Trappers Hut.



It goes on like this for a little bit.



And then after the track flattens out for around 200 meters, and climbs for a little bit, and...



Aloha!!




Now things get fun.

See, back in 1983, an unnamed man decided that for some reason or another, he wanted to get away from life as he knew it, so he illegally built a hut in the Walls of Jerusalem, in a little traveled area near Tiger Lake, just east of Lake George Howes.

He lives in this hut for 18 months... Wait... He can explain it better in his old entry in the huts log book.

Click the image if you actually want to read what he has to say...


It's actually pretty rare to find a log book with entries that date back this far. Writing my own entry almost felt like an intrusion.

I'd been wanting to visit this hut for a while, and until recently, I knew nothing of the existence of a track to the hut.

The track to the hut is not on maps, but it does exist, and it is surprisingly very easy to follow from behind Trappers Hut.



I was surprised to see how well defined the track is, as it cuts through the scrub, and suddenly emerges into the open valley that runs parallel with Solomons Jewels, that is also filled with small pretty tarns, cushion plants, King Billy Pines, and views extending to Cradle Mountain.



By my standards, the track through here was quite well defined, and very easy to follow.



Having walked through Solomons Jewels a handful of times, I was pretty impressed with this route, having avoided the annoying steep pinch above Trappers Hut, and passing scenery that rivaled that seen near Solomons Jewels.

I'm pretty certain that I'll be following this route again. 


Lake George Howes appeared very unexpectedly out of nowhere.


And Solitary Hut appeared perched above Tiger Lake equally unexpectedly after following one of numerous pads that I hoped would lead me to the hut.

Turns out that this Solitary bloke really didn't want to be interrupted. The hut blends into its surroundings like no other hut I've seen. You only see the hut when you are a mere few meters away from it, so it makes me curious about just how the hut was discovered in 84 or 85 by passers by, leading to the Solitary Man leaving the hut behind, returning to life as he knew it, allowing passers by to use the hut.

...or so the story goes...



The magic thing about Solitary Hut is, like many of the old cattlemen huts in the Victorian High Country, is that this was someone's home, only recently, and it still is from time to time. It's history is still living as we breathe. 



With visits to the hut being rare, and by those who seek to find it only, you get a real sense that you are intruding when you find the hut, even though the Solitary Man has made visitors very welcome.

The hut looks like it has been lived in (and still lived in), and the log book in the hut tells many stories of those who set out to find it, including the late Frank Austin "Paddy" Pallin, and "The Punks" who spread hate and anarchy across the Walls of Jerusalem with very humorous log book entries.



Now... I had a pretty late start today. Originally, I'd intended to continue on through Golden Gate to Zion Vale, and onward to Dixons Kingdom for the night.

This didn't happen.

It was around 3pm, and with everything from the intersection of Wild Dog Creek onward being completely unfamiliar territory, I decided to head up Wild Dog Creek to... well... Wild Dog Creek, so I could set up camp before dark.



I'd seen this valley on maps, and on Google Earth, and it appeared to be very open, and very easy to follow.

I had also heard from others that it was a good valley to follow as an alternate route into the Walls.




As guessed, it was open country keeping to the right of the creek until around 200 meters before the Solomons Jewels Track, where a pad crosses the creek, and care needed to be taken avoiding the cushion plants before arriving at the main track.



Oh... and I've never seen as much Wallaby shit in my life as I did through this section. ;)

Seriously... it was everywhere.



And then, I remembered something important.

I'd never camped on a tent platform before, and had planned this trip to camp on the ground at Dixons Kingdom.

The problem with tent platforms (as I fast learned today) is that the anchors that are provided on the platforms are completely useless, and extremely hard to tension properly.

Not only that, but for a tent such as the North Face Tadpole 23 that I use, you need a few more lines in order to pitch the tent properly.

...and with my amazing luck, the temperature plummeted as I arrived at camp, making setting up the anchors particularly painful for my freezing hands, but hey... at least I was warm that night with my hot water filled Nalgene bottle in my foot baffle.

Seriously... one of the best ideas I've ever been given. But more on that next time when I talk about exactly how bloody cold it got that night.

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