With Ben and a mate off climbing Mt. Maurice – which I had previously visited – it was time for a solo adventure. But where to? I chose Mt. Jerusalem in part as Haydyn our fellow hiking buddy had said how amazingly pretty it was. He was the one that recommended the beautiful Rinadeena Falls to us and I had faith that his assessment of Mt. Jerusalem would be accurate. It wasn’t. It was far more beautiful a wander than even Haydyn described! Also known as the East Wall, Mt. Jerusalem is the second highest feature in the Walls Of Jerusalem. As awe–inspiring as the view is from the top, it is paled by the views afforded to you for the entire journey. One. Spectacular. Place.
Date: 14th December 2019 – Summit: 1459m
Distance: Approx. 25km out-and-back.
Time taken: 7 hours return including photo stops and chatting to other hikers. Can also be done as an overnight hike or part of a multi-day hike.
Difficulty: Easy, but rated moderate as a long day walk. Easy to navigate but considerable distance and elevation to cover if done as a day walk.
Type of track: Well tracked and marked literally all the way to the summit.
Access from: Mersey Forest Road and the Walls Of Jerusalem car park.
The alarm clock rudely awoke me at 4:30am and I was more than a little tempted to roll over and keep sleeping, but I needed some mountain air, some peace and solitude. I was long overdue for a good stretch of my legs, a physical challenge and the calm and absence of thought that you can only find when immersed in nature and away from the chaos of the world. From Launceston to the WoJ (Walls of Jerusalem) car park, where I would start the day’s adventure, would be a 2-2.5 hour drive. As I would be heading off as a long day walk and not an overnight trip I wanted to be on track by 8am, hence the early start. That gave me more than enough daylight hours to complete my hike, even if things went a little pear shaped.
I was hiking unaccompanied, so included a more comprehensive day pack than normal containing all my regular gear (maps, compass, head torch, wet weathers and food) but also a full size first aid kit, a Bivvy bag for emergency shelter, thermals and extra warm layers. I’ve previously adventured into parts of the WoJ and know how quickly the weather can alter. Hiking alone means you need to be very well prepared!
The relatively new WoJ car park is a testament to how popular this area is. A shiny new registry hut and composting toilet facility greet walkers and there is even an over flow car park. It is a pity the weather wasn’t as nice as the surroundings when I set off; still I wasn’t going to let dreary and drizzly weather turn me off. After signing in, I set off on the main track. This section of track leads you through damp sclerophyll forest and gently eases your legs into the walk for a few hundred metres.
The track wound upwards gradually at first along padded forest floor and over small water courses, leading the way to Trappers Hut. I was surprised that given how much use this track gets that the scrub was encroaching on the path so frequently. My legs were wet through after just a few minutes from rain-logged plants brushing against them. I had not started with my rain pants on, as I knew from previous hikes that the initial climb is steep and I was reluctant to overheat. The early segment of the hike is well sheltered from wind so wind chill wasn’t going to be a problem, even though I was wet. The drizzle was coming and going, never making up its mind.
Not less than a few hundred metres from the carpark the trail began to climb upwards in earnest, gaining well over 500m of elevation in the first 4km. However, it did have enough small sections of level walking to lessen the sting in my legs. I had hiked this section with a full multi-day pack a year earlier, so today’s pack felt light, even though it was sitting around 9-10kg.
As I continued to climb higher, underfoot the trail varied between well padded forest floor and rocky paths. There were no track markers present before I reached Trappers Hut but nor did I need them, as there is only one (very obvious) track. I had only been walking for under 40 minutes when I reached the creek just prior to Trappers Hut. Given all the recent rains and snow melt the creek was full and flowing with crystal clear water. Not enough to hinder a crossing but enough to fill my water bottle with the sweetest water you will ever taste! Trappers Hut was a delightful place for me to munch on a banana and refuel, as well as imagining the fur trappers here in the mid 1800s.
Setting off again I continued behind Trappers Hut and an old sign with a new reflector indicated the route up the rocky slopes to a small valley of ferns and mosses. A few more minutes of climbing and I reached another slight valley with snow gums and a sign indicating a choice of routes to The Walls or Lake Adelaide. From my elevated vantage point I could just make out Lake Loane behind the trees and a pleasing grassy area, both cloaked in mist. From this junction point the track, now guided by reflectors on trees, kept ascending. During winter I can imagine that although well trodden the track would at times completely disappear in snow, so the tree markers indicating directional changes would be much appreciated.
Just as my legs were beginning to protest the consistent upwards climb, I crested the ridge to the north-east of Lake Loane and the track first levelled out and then began to undulate downwards towards Wild Dog Creek. The mist was lifting and so I now had ring-side seats to the most beautiful show in the world – Solomons Jewels. A spectacular arrangement of pools and tarns surrounded by small groups of pencil pines. At one stage I think I even yelled out loud a ‘thank you’ to the beautiful spectacle in front of me. WOW. Just WOW. It was also this time I got my first glimpse of King Davids Peak rising above Wild Dog Creek campsite.
The track continued in an often downwards weave towards Wild Dog Creek. I took my time through this section as the beauty of Solomons Jewels was captivating, but also because the rock strewn path was wet and slippery – or a just plain muddy mess. There was plentiful evidence of high traffic recently; by the end of the day’s hike I would pass no less that 17 other hikers walking in or out of the area. Busy day! Even going slow this section of track allowed for quick progress and in no time I was looking down at the lengthy stretch of board walk leading across the sedge to the Wild Dog Creek campsite. Ben and I had camped here a year earlier in the snow when climbing King Davids Peak. This was as far as I had previously been, and so I was excited to progress further past Herods Gate and Lake Salome to Damascus Gate. The track actually heads off to the south east of the main camping platforms and is signposted as the “Main Walking Track“.
A short pinchy climb along the rocky path and board walk bought me through Herods Gate and past Lake Solome to Damascus Gate. I considered a quick side trip up Solomons Throne but the usual track was closed, as was the track to The Temple. Continuing on I was grateful that board walk led across the sodden marsh area and cleared a path through the scoparia. The track was wet and muddy and some campers I had spoken to at Wild Dog Creek had bemoaned the amount of rain they had endured the day before. Even sections of the board walk were sinking into the marsh as you walked along it. For now the drizzle had stopped and the sun was out. I had even removed a few layers of clothing. I was hiking at a reasonably quick pace, ever conscious of my daylight and weather window.
As I had not been this far in on previous trips, I thought that nothing could get more beautiful than Solomons Jewels from earlier. My mistake. Not far from the junction to Solomons Throne the track began descending again. Stone steps weaved downwards through the most charming pencil pine forest I have ever seen! It was like stepping back in time to an enchanted garden. The overhanging and high pencil pine forest canopy leaned in matching the twists and turns that the stones took. In between the stone sections, board walk led into the green disappearing from my view creating a sense of isolation. The pencil pines hug the edge of the path all the time forcing you to stop still and just stare in awe. Up, down, left, right – every direction commanding your eyes. Stunning.
Emerging from the enchanted forest, Dixons Kingdom camp site came into view and along with it Dixons Hut nestled in a grassy valley. From here the track sidled around before boardwalk led me up towards Jaffa Gate.
The track gained height gradually for a while before my bearing changed and I headed onto the south-west slopes of Mt. Jerusalem. From here I could see my prize! I wandered along, the sunlight on my back and the excitement building that I was almost there. Even the steeper climb through sections of smooth rock and low alpine vegetation couldn’t wipe the ever-present smile from my face.
The final push uphill to the summit took me along larger sections of rock interspersed with small pockets of scrub, and to finish, a slight scramble to arrive at the obvious summit cairn. The sky was blue, the sun was warm and I had arrived. The summit area was very exposed and the wind was whipping up, so after a few photos and some time to enjoy the moment, I made the decision to climb down to the garden-like area below to enjoy a well-earned lunch.
The Abels book estimates 4 hours to reach the summit of Mt. Jerusalem from the WoJ car park, and even with photos and chat stops I had covered the almost 13km to reach the peak in just over 3.5 hours. Mind you, my legs were feeling it! I still had a 13km return journey back to the car and so I would definitely classify the day as a “long” day hike and was happy it was Daylight Savings with fine weather so I could saunter home at a more relaxed pace. I had a very real sense of isolation standing on top of Mt. Jerusalem.
Looking down from above at pockets of ancient pencil pines, the land of Thousand Lakes out towards the central highlands, craggy rock wall faces and undulating mountains for miles is a special kind of view that only Tasmania can give. Even the names of the notable landmarks that you pass by on the way to the summit like The Temple, Solomons Throne and Dixons Kingdom invoke a sense of history, awe and wonder. I am sorry Mt. Rufus, but the Walls of Jerusalem has just stolen the crown for the prettiest day hike I have done yet…