Saturday, July 29, 2017

A quiet week



Breakthrough -morning sun finally reaches the north facing window


It's been a quiet week. Wan sunlight now filters Stonehenge –like through the clerestory window. This means that we are now over the hump and hurtling towards Christmas, but winter isn't over yet.  I know this because there’s snow on the mountain and I'm stuck in bed with a book and a cold.

I blame this on yet another unfortunate walk to what seems to have become my nemesis, Adamson’s falls. A friend and I set off in light drizzle. He’d already told me that he had to be back in Hobart by 5 p.m. but no problem I thought, the sign said "2 Hrs. Return." At least we actually found the way in this time thanks to Forestry, correction Sustainable Timber, at Geeveston. (Thanks Cathy). However, I would personally like to strangle the person who put up the sign. It should read approximately 3 hours in if you are trying to keep your feet dry and then two hours back if you don’t mind getting muddy to the withers.

Scytinotus Longinquus  (Thanks Herman and Genevieve)- about the only fungus I am allowed to stop long enough to photograph
All this and I still haven’t actually seen these falls, though I have heard them twice now. At first I was trying hard not to get my boots wet by skirting around the edges of enormous puddles or balancing precariously on sticks placed across them. We got a bit further this time than on my original visit – it could only have been another five minutes at most, but my friend suddenly announced that as it was already  2.15, we were going to have to get a move on to get back on time. I was already a bit wet by then, so I thought that in the interests of speed I had better march right through all those puddles, instead of trying to avoid them. This is in fact proper bushwalking practice but wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. 

Another view - same spot
 What looked like solid ground beneath the puddles was clay of varying thickness, so deep and soft in places that you sank almost to your knees. In between are tangled roots and the all too familar cutty rushes that slash your face and like to entangle your feet. Clay is also very slippery and I managed to slip over twice. No injuries fortunately – at least clay is soft, but by the time we got back to the car, I was wet through and muddy all over. My friend fared slightly better – decent jacket, woollen pants and tough all leather boots. I have trendy walking boots - not cheap, but they have stupid ventilation panels on the upper side of the foot, which means that whenever you step in any liquid more than five centimentres deep, you get very wet feet.

Another of the better moments, shortly before we turn around
It was then that I came to appreciate why people say you should always wear wool in the bush – yes, even if it’s heavy and scratchy. On the top half I was fashionably attired in a tee-shirt followed by a half woollen thermal and topped off with a woollen jumper. On the bottom half I only had on a thick pair of jeans. Even though my top half was wet, my heaving bosom remained fairly warm, but the jeans clung to my body and got stiffer and colder the further I walked. I then shivered in my wet clothes all the way home.  Next time – and yes, there will be one – this has become my K2, I will wear gumboots, a proper miner’s long tailed woollen shirt and some waterproof pants, or better still some waders – the sort that fly fishermen wear, that go all the way up to your waist. I’d put in a small zodiac for the larger puddles too, if I thought I could carry any more than I am already carrying. 

It is as Jamie Kirkpatrick* says, in his new book “The Environmental Worrier” (2017, De Press Inc. pp. 102), “The human brain treats bushwalking as it treats childbirth. Somehow despite the horrors of the first trip, Adrian and Jamie convince themselves that it would be a good idea to walk from the Walls of Jerusalem to Lake St. Clair, through trackless country....”  It’s a bit like that for me, if I ever recover from my latest affliction. Snuffle, snuffle, sniff.

Another as yet nameless fungus very close to where I slipped over

·       *  Jamie Kirkpatrick is the humble but distinguished Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania whose scientific research underpins many of our conservation struggles of the past five decades. He is also the author or co -author of some fifteen other books. The new book is a lighthearted look in the rear view mirror at that era. It also includes some charming and acerbic vignettes of people and places which will be familiar to anyone who read the news or attended Tas Uni during that time.  Hmmm. Never knew a certain LW was also a rock climber.


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