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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Walls of Jerusalem Hike - Day 1

[image]When I woke, it was sprinkling rain, and didn't look good for the hike. I decided that since I could clime to the plateau in about an hour, that I would go up, and check out the conditions, and if there were no views, and bad weather, then I'd just come back down. I packed my gear and set off about 8:30.

The climb up the mountain was fairly long, but not too steep, and after about an hour, I reached Trappers Hut, which is a "rustic" heritage hut, which would be good in really foul weather, but was just split timber with a shingle roof, and a little damp. As I climbed, it stopped raining, and although the nearby mountains had been shrouded in low cloud, as I reached the plateau, I could see it had lifted a fair bit, and I could see a nearby tarn.

The track split with the Lake Adelaide track, and continued on through sparse snowgum, and low alpine plants, with many beautiful tarns. Crossing several streams, and travelling past many tarns, the track was mostly flat, and after a while the cliffs of Herods Gate came into view. I could now see why it was called a gate - it was a narrow gap between two mountains. Just before the gate, the track descended to cross a creek, then passed the Wild Dog Creek campsite as I climbed to the gate.

As I neared the narrowest part of the gate, the wind became very strong, starting to blow me around a little, and was very cold. Proceeding through the gate, an awesome vista of the Walls of Jerusalem opened up in front of me - a valley surrounded with awesome mountains all around, including the rock cliffs of the West Wall, sprinkled with snow. The valley contained a beautiful lake (Lake Salome), and lots of low alpine herbs, cushion plants and moss. There were also some small groves of pencil pines.
I walked further into the valley, and the views of the West Wall got better and better. As I neared the Damascus Gate, there was a turnoff for the Pool of Bethesda. The pool was hidden behind a small hill and surrounded by old pencil pines. Since it was only about 12:30, I decided to continue on through the Damascus Gate to see the Wailing Wall.

The Damascus gate was higher than the valley, and as I passed through it, the cliffs of Solomons Throne loomed large to the right. The Wailing Wall was visible from the southern side of the gate, but it was a fair way away. I decided to head on toward Dixons Kingdom Hut, and soon discovered that there was some snow on the ground in this area. There was a fair bit of boardwalk (2 parallel planks) , and the snow made it unbelievably slick. I nearly fell several times, dispite inching carefully through it.

Nearing Dixons Kingdom Hut, there were many old pencil pines (these grow up to 2500years old), and as I reached the hut, the sun came out briefly. The hut is very low - just head hight at the centre, and much lower at the sides. It is also a heritage hut, but its setting is quite picturesque. I thought I might camp near the hut. I dumped my pack and walked up toward Jaffa Gate, intending to see the other side of it, and possibly climb mount Jerusalem.

I made it a little way through Jaffa gate, and saw more jagged, rocky, cliff lined mountains, as well as more bad weather coming in. I returned to Dixons Kingdom Hut, and after reading the logbook, I found that hikers are requested not to camp near the hut. I decided to return to the Pool of Bethesda, and camp there. As I neared the Pool of Bethesda, it started raining lightly, then as I was making camp, some of the rain turned to light snow.
The rain continued throughout the night.

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