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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Tasmania Day 2 Huon Campground to Junction Creek

January 25th, 2020

Day 2

Jan 15 Huon Campground to Junction Creek

Becoming reacquainted with real sweat. Today’s trek was short but hot and in the mud. The swamps teem with insects. I sit here writing this in a cloud of huge buzzing flies. They don’t bite, don’t even land much, just buzz around my head. I could get angry and swat at the, ineffectually, or adjust. I’ve decided to just talk to them today. Jay Griffiths In Savage Grace talks of visiting the outback near Alice Springs and discovering these same flies: “They droned with a dull and horrible persistence. They hunched themselves into your nostrils, they swarmed in their hundreds, stupid squadrons of dumb nuisance. The only two things which made them desist were wind and sunset.” She spoke the truth, though I could only confirm over the next days—up on a ridge in the wind, the buzz stops. In the evening, they crowd the tent screen humming so loud they sometimes sound almost like humans talking in the distance, and only sleep when darkness arrives.

I’m reminded of hiker filth— about three days out, you stop feeling sticky, smelly or bothered by insects, it is strangeLy liberating. Tasmania doesn’t have a long-trail, but at least according to the maps, it has some amazing 5-10 day treks out in the bush. Yesterday was mostly organizing food and transport to the trail head and back from the end. The first leg is the Port Davey trail, 40+ miles in the Southwest. Amy at Wilderness Adventures drove me out. Like most Tasmanians I’ve met, she was engaging— a strong concern for the environment and its history. Born in Hobart, she knows the island well, particularly hiking and rafting, but she was also deeply engaged Tasmanian environmental movements, particularly protests of the many dams built in the interior and the clear cutting of old growth forests. The eucalyptus here are fascinating, Seuss-like on the horizon. In particular I want to learn of the Huon Pine—native to this place and currently endangered, it was prime building material with amazing rot resonance. She drove me to the northern trail head of Port Davy which I hope to cross in five days, and at Melaleuca airstrip pick up a resupply box I left at the local small plane airlines to deliver there. There was an old tin mine at Melaleuca and apparently it is an important bird habitat. There I plan to continue on the South Coast trail for another 60 or so miles, following at times the beach back toward Hobart.

Today’s hike was low key— only 7 km across fairly easy terrain. Lots of deep mud holes and blazing hot field crossings but nothing difficult. Had to stop early as the next campsite is a full day’s trek which is just as well. I’m completely out of trekking fitness and still testing my newly replaced knees on uneven terrain. I was happy to arrive at the campsite early afternoon to rest some already sore legs and get my gear organized in a way that suits the trek   Anticipating rain and a lot of mud, some difficult stream and river crossings over these next days, but also looking forward to solitude. All of the people I met today are doing an 8 day loop hike of the Western Arthur Range, some steep climbing which is definitely out of my skill set just now. Unlike them, I turn west to follow the river valleys eventually to the coast, and will probably make that part of the trip alone.


T. Hugh Crawford