Day 19: Starting the Western Arthur Traverse

Thursday December 8, 9.3km/5.8mi

Scotts Peak Dam Trailhead (0.0/270m) to Junction Creek Campsite (9.3/230m) (TAS)

It was very windy at the campsite last night, so about 1am I moved into the car. With all the sleep interruptions, I woke up late at 8am. I was planning on starting a Mt Field loop today, which meant a short day, so I watched some TV episodes while lounging in the cozy car. Around 10:30am I packed up and checked the weather forecast one last time. It looked like it had improved, the next 3 days were now mostly dry! Hmm… change of plans. The Western Arthur Traverse requires a window of clear weather for the high, exposed 30km traverse. I decided to go for it, and re-packed my food for a 5-day hike. I stopped at a nearby “roadhouse” (convenience store) for a chicken burger and fries, and then drove the 2 hours to the trailhead. I arrived to Scott’s Peak Dam Trailhead at 3:30pm, and saw one other group there. They were a huge group of 7, so I expected to catch them easily later today. By the time I did some final packing, filled my water, and double-checked my maps and itinerary, it was 4pm.

I signed the trail register, and off I went!

The trail started off very nice, at first in a dense dark forest.

Eventually it emerged into the buttongrass plains, which are the dominant terrain type around here. The pattern of dark clouds and blue sky was captivating, but also confusing.

After a couple kilometers, I could see the mountains I will be traversing (from right to left) for the next few days.

About an hour into the hike, I was surprised to see this warning sign. “If you are not prepared for X, Y, Z….Turn around here!”

The Western Arthurs were coming into view!

The trail then became rather muddy, so I switched to my waterproof socks so I could keep my feet dry. The trail also became slightly overgrown.

This stream crossing amused me. They hauled lumber out here, but instead of building a bridge, they built…stairs down into the stream.

It was at least half a meter deep, so I found a way to cross on some nearby fallen trees that bridged most of the stream. I arrived to the Junction Creek Campsite a few minutes later, and found the large group had spread out their 3 massive tents over the primary camping area. I found a nice cozy spot in the trees like 50m away, perfect. This trail has 8 designated campsites, and most have a toilet and wooden tent platforms. The toilets are just a raised cylinder seat on a storage tank. Haha!

It started to sprinkle, so I made dinner in my tent vestibule under my umbrella. It’s a nice setup that keeps moisture out of the tent and still blocks the rain and wind from the stove. I crawled into bed before 9pm, excited to catch up on sleep tonight!


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