Walls of Jerusalem paddling

With a week free, several days of nice weather predicted and a fellow adventurer keen for an outing I decided it was time to delve a little deeper in to the Walls of Jerusalem national park. We did a few hours of preparation and driving and before long we were at the carpark with our packs loaded down ready to walk off into the wilderness.

Two people standing in front of a ute, wearing big backpacks
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked about why we had the paddles I would be a rich man…

We had a beautiful day for the walk in, if a little hot. We made good time making it to Wild Dog Creek for lunch and pushing on to Dixons Kingdom arriving around 16:00. Carolyn and I had a break there and discussed the plan of action. We had the choice of camping or pushing on. With the possibility of a remote alpine lake camp site in our sights we decided to push on, leaving the track behind and heading out in to the unknown for the first time on this trip.

Person walking along a track
The last of the track, time to bust out the map!

We made it to lake Ball and inflated our packraft. Getting the weight off our shoulders and being able to relax and enjoy a paddle in the last of the days sun was beautiful. For once our timing was perfect and we made it to an excellent camp site with half an hour of daylight to spare. It was an incredibly clear night and after dinner I messed around with some long exposure photography.

Tent at night with a light inside
We were lucky to have a clear night.

The next day was a bit intimidating as it was the first day of property off track navigation far away from any formed tracks. Not being the most experienced in this area I took things slow and spent quite some time bent over the map. That said I shouldn’t have been worried, navigation was pretty straightforward and with another lovely day of sun walking through the alpine vegetation was a pleasure.

Person checking a map
Carolyn checking that we're heading the right way…

We made it to out next series of lakes and got in to a bit of a routine with inflating the raft, paddling and then deflating it and donning packs.

Person padding towards the setting sun
Had a bit of a mess around with some silhouette photography while the weather was nice!

As the day wore on the wind picked up which stalled out progress on the lakes. The larger packraft catches a decent amount of wind, which made things a bit tricky. We decided to get a bit of an earlier night and prepared a nice dinner before getting to bed.

Tent in the mist
Visibility had dropped right down, a good time to get the tent up.

The next day was forecast for quite poor weather in the afternoon and given our struggles on the lake yesterday we decided that we might take a slightly alternate route and cut the trip a bit short to avoid paddling/trekking in the pouring rain. With a modified route in mind we packed our gear and paddled off, aiming to cover ground efficiently to get to Lake Adelaide and back to a track before the weather closed in and we had to contend with 20+ mm of rain. There was a lot of thick mist that made navigation on the water much more tricky than it had been, I had to bust out my phone/GPS in a couple of sections to make sure we were not going in circles!

Bowl of breakfast
Breakfast in the mist…

Soon enough we were back on dry land and ready for our last section of scrub bashing before getting to the track. Amusingly as it turned out the only time we managed to get lost of this trip was on a sectioned of tracked walk. We were finally back on the Junction Lake track and managed to miss it and head off in to the scrub. We encountered two parties of two who managed to do exactly the same thing. Given we were the most equiped in relation to maps, GPS and phones and I expressed some tentative amount of knowledge as to where we should be heading everyone teamed up with us and we all pushed on in to the scrub. Having now become the unexpected leader of an off track scrub bash with a bunch of people I didn’t know I did my best to wrap my head around where we might be. The track just petered out and I couldn’t figure out why as the terrain really wasn’t consistent with my map. As it turns out we had ended up taking a side trail to nowhere…

Saw a snake, at least that was interesting!

I wanted to gain some high ground to get a better look at our location. We started to push up a steep and scrubby slope. The weather started to close in too. This was a bit of a hard sell for one of the couples who were with us who started bickering about where they wanted to go (yay). After getting near the top I was moving significantly faster than everyone else so I decided to push up to the top, leaving everyone to have a break and down some trail mix. It was a bit of a tricky climb but I made the summit and luckily had a couple of minutes of good visibility before I pushed down to find everyone else. By the time I had made it back the bickering couple had decided to head back down in the opposite direction. I had a quick chat with them about what I had seen at the summit and where I though we were. I had seen the three hills shown clearly on the map above which gave me confidence that is was just a quick scrub bash around the corner back to the lake and track I could see in the distance. The couple thought that we were somewhere entirely different. Not being terribly confident in my navigation I wasn’t very assertive when presenting my case which with the power of hindsight I possibly should have been because they clearly didn’t have a clue about what they were doing. That said I wasn’t responsible for them and they had their own idea so I wished them luck and we headed off in opposite directions. The other group of two decided to stick with myself and Carolyn so now a party of 4 pushed on around the hill.

Map showing different routes
Purple is the group route, yellow is where I got some high ground to figure out our location and red is where the couple headed off.

It was a pretty miserable time with the pouring rain and the scrub, Carolyn and I exchanged a grin remembering a similar experience on the overland track. Soon enough we were around the corner and sure enough back on the track. It was a mixed feeling I was pleased I’m made the right call and got everyone back on track efficiently but I was torn as it meant the other couple had headed off in to the middle of nowhere, completely in the wrong direction.

Person standing near a sign on the track that points to The Walls to the left and Lake Adelaide to the right
Jarrod, one of the guys we ran in to was pretty psyched to be back on the track!

We pushed on and soon enough we had made it back to the car. We blasted the heat and changed into warm clothes. Always a good feeling to get back to a warm car after an epic adventure!