NEAR APPROACH TO WYLD'S CRAIG
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Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.
On Easter Saturday, April 12th. 1941, Jack and Harold Daniel and myself left Prospect (600’) at 10 a.m. intent upon gaining the summit of the elusive Wyld’s Craig during a three-day holiday venture.
We first drove to Hobart, depositing a passenger at Glenorchy and then wound up the Derwent Valley to New Norfolk (50’ - 1.10 p.m.) where dinner was obtained. Leaving New Norfolk at 2.20 p.m., we entered Dawson's Road at 3.15 p.m. and, after the usual exacting journey along this frightful, rough and hilly route, gained the old mill site at Judy’s Marsh (1050’ - 9.7m. - 4.15 p.m.) where the car was vacated.
At 5 p.m., we struggled off on foot under the burden of tremendous packs and a laborious and painful ascent terminated when we decided to make camp at the trickling creek just beyond the two-mile tree (1780’ - 4m. - 6.15 p.m.). This, by no means, was as far as our original plan decreed, but the late start from Launceston and the Hobart detour had seriously affected our margin of time available for walking. Under the shelter of the tent, we all enjoyed a fair rest but were, perforce, astir early in preparation for Sunday's effort.
At 4.15 a.m., again heavily laden, the day's march began in darkness with the white flowers of the bauera, and melaleuca glowing eerily in the gloom. We were soon able to dispense with our torches and it was quite daylight when the Misery Saddle was acquired (2300’ – 4¼m. - 5.35 a.m.).
After a 10 min. respite, the descent to the Florentine was commenced via Dawson's Road. Dense jungle lined the route for the next couple of miles and, as the clearing below was neared, (1090’ - 7m. - 6.50 a.m.) we forsook the road in an effort to gain time by slicing off the acute angle of the Jungle Creek track and Dawson's Road and reaching the former lower down. Our chosen route was criss-crossed by numerous inconsequent stock tracks, some of which were of good assistance but a change of direction in a track often left us with some dense fern thicket to invade and it was not until 7.35 a.m. that the Jungle Creek track appeared (9m.).
The course now changed northward as the Florentine Valley is pursued via a beautiful path, virid with the encompassing dicksonias, sassafras, musk, myrtle and gums and occasional areas where stinging nettle must be eluded. At length the log hut on the bank of the Florentine was gained and we were able to cache here the bulk of the contents of the heavy packs under which we had been staggering (950’ – 15½m. - 10 a.m.).
It was our hope to scale Wyld’s Craig during the afternoon and to return to the hut for the night, so only the bare necess¬ities were carried in order to enable us to make faster progress. After a rest and a snack, we were afoot again at 10.45 a.m., endeavoring to follow the overgrown subsidiary track which leads from the hut across the Florentine. We received only sufficient encouragement from the obscure tree-blazings to induce us to waste time, and, eventually abandoning the project and wading the shallow stream. After climbing the steep western bank of the river, we had not progressed far before further blazings arrested our attention but no serious effort was made to follow them up. Aided by the indisputable compass, we steered a direct course towards Wyld’s Craig, finding the forest growth much more penetrable than first impressions indicated. The forest consisted mainly of myrtle with gum on the hills plus sassafras and occasional wattle, leatherwood and horizontal. Olearia, tea tree and the other smaller undergrowth were not sufficiently represented to materially hamper our progress and, by zigzagging through each inviting fern-carpeted vista, we made reasonable progress, although the tall trees precluded any possibility of a view of the peak ahead. A long gradual ascent through the forest, where an occasional climbing epacris in brilliant blossom enhanced the forest beauty, brought us to the crest of a wooded hill where we obtained a heartening glimpse of Wyld's, slightly to the north of west (2900' – 23½m. - 2.35 p.m.). Still continuing westward towards our objective, but somewhat slower owing to more undergrowth, we pursued the ridge leading towards the mountain which was fast drawing near and presented a glorious spectacle with its steep, rocky cliffs and clear-cut pinnacle.
At 3 p.m. we called a halt to discuss the possibilities. We occupied the western end of the ridge with only a thickly wooded gully remaining to be negotiated ere the foot of Wyld's was secured. We estimated that it would be quite 5 p.m. by the time we achieved the vertex of Wyld's Craig. By dispensing with the crowning reward of a view of the great panorama at leisure, it might be possible to replace our steps to the creek in the gully below ere darkness overtook us but it would mean an uncomfortable night in the open without food or adequate clothing and may jeopardise our chances of regaining Launceston on the morrow, a condition that must be attained under all circumstances. Furthermore, owing to the long journey already accomplished, at least one of the party was not in the best condition to continue and it was unwise to split a party which possessed only one compass. Although some of us may have been sorely tempted to risk a dash to the peak and hope for the best on the morrow, we reluctantly chose the only commonsense alternative of returning and once again suffering the ignominy of defeat on Wyld's Craig. We sat down and ate our remaining food, gazing upon our elusive quarry which had cost us so much effort to approach.
At 3.45 p.m. (2000') we turned our backs to the mountain in an effort to regain the log hut before dark. We chose a course slightly north of our outward route, hoping to pick up the Jungle Creek track lower down stream and save a little time. After a good start, we became entangled in heavy undergrowth surrounding a small Florentine affluent and found progress more possible by occupying the stream-bed. As the creek progressed towards the main stream, larger creeks linked up and it became impossible to adhere to the creek bed owing to the depth of water. We made frequent detours to the high bank above to escape the worst undergrowth which was a hopeless barrier in the vicinity of the creek. Dusk was rapidly falling while we struggled onwards as fast as possible but suddenly, much to Jack’s relief, we appeared on the bank of the Florentine (6 p.m. – 32½m.).
On our outward journey, when fording the stream, we divested ourselves of boots and socks and carefully rolled up our trousers to avoid immersion but on this occasion, in direct contrast, we plunged heedlessly into the stream and waded pell-mell for the opposite shore. Nor were our troubles over when we gained the other bank for the track was far away and stubborn undergrowth aided by dense cutting grass barred the way. Our torches did invaluable service as we battled on expecting to gain the track at any moment but that object was long deferred.
Upon entering the track (1100' – 33½m. - 6.55 p.m.), we swung south and were particularly pleased when we piled into the log hut (950' – 35½m. - 7.30 p.m.) after our second highest day's mileage. There was wood to be collected, food to be prepared, clothes to be dried and sleeping quarters arranged, but none of the blitzkriegers showed much enthusiasm in these tasks. At length all was accomplished in a fashion and the sleep of the utter weary was the lot of all.
It was bright daylight when I awoke and, finding the others still deep in slumber, I endeavored to rise but found great difficulty in doing so owing to muscular stiffness and a slight sprain of the back. Light rain had fallen during the night and a morning mist covered the Florentine valley. Breakfast over, we relaxed and discussed the route homeward, the popular choice proving the shorter route via our lightly blazed outward trail of Dec. 15th. last.
At 8.40 a.m. we left the hut but had not progressed far before the dampness of the bush dissuaded us from the chosen route and we decided to revert to the longer and dryer route by track. Again passing the hut (950' - ¾m. - 9 a.m.), we possessed little relish for the long hike ahead, being again burdened by substantial packs and bearing signs of wear from yesterday's adventure. Passing the old camp site (2m. - 9.22 a.m.), we trudged along the Jungle Creek track, entering Dawson's Road (8m.) at noon. The steady climb to the Misery Saddle plus a merry pace effected a split in the party but a pause was made at a stream near the '6-miles tree' (12m. - 12.50 p.m.) where we reunited. After a brief respite, all were again under way, the lead and the gaps between the party alternating as the miles drifted by. At 3.15 p.m. two tired mountaineers sighed with relief as the car was reached at Judy's Marsh (1050' - 20m.), Jack being only 15 min. behind.
At 4.20 p.m. the car was in motion and, once off Dawson's Road, good progress was made to Hobart (7 p.m.). After quite an interval at the capital, the long drive to Launceston was made, frequent changes at the wheel being an urgent necessity.
In reviewing our week-end performance, there is every ground for satisfaction
at our physical efforts even though they were not rewarded with success.
A new two-day walking mileage record of 55½ miles was created and
excellent times had been established throughout.
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