Best map for Cradle Mountain to the Walls of Jerusalem? Not this one.

Our Hiking Blog friend, Matthias, has an interesting tale of a young German walker who came across him recently on a walk from Lake St Clair, Pine Valley, Never Never, Walls of Jerusalem, Lake Ball to Dixon’s Kingdom.

Matthias was alone at the camp near Dixon’s hut, but just as the weather set in and visibility reduced to 50m, in strolled a young German backpacker.

Experienced walkers can tell hair raising tales of young travellers poorly prepared for the unpredictable weather encountered in Tassie’s highlands, but Matthias says this young fellow was extremely poorly prepared, with only street clothes and cross runners, a plastic poncho and three plastic bags of supermarket food.

Overland Track Pine Valley sign - not many of these in the

Overland Track Pine Valley sign - not many of these in the

With no hiking boots, proper raincoat, gaiters, GPS, PLB or compass, this enthusiastic young man was planning to walk the opposite of Matthias’ walk – to the Walls of Jerusalem, Dixon’s Kingdom, Lake Ball, Junction Lake, Never Never and then the OT.

While the two of them sat in the hut cooking lunch and discussing the route, the German walker pulled out his ‘map’ – an A4 printout of a GPS plot. Matthias thought the picture looked familiar.  The young bloke said he had Googled the route and found the plot on a blog.

His ‘map’ was the GPS plot from an Our Hiking Blog post on Hiking from the Walls of Jerusalem to the Overland Track.

Matthias couldn’t believe that this young man, without any walking experience, was attempting to navigate the walk on a printout – without a proper map, the right clothing, GPS, PLB, compass – and not even aware that snakes in Tasmania are poisonous.

Matthias unsuccessfully tried to discourage him from walking on, as he had seen two tiger snakes the day before, so all he could do was give him his Overland Track map and watch him walk off through the mist in the direction of Lake Ball.

Lake Ball at dawn - Cradle Mountain - Walls of Jerusalum

Lake Ball at dawn

Matthias says he is currently questioning the way he blogs about remote walks.  He knows  the community of hikers appreciate blogs, but also sees a negative side if they encourage people with no knowledge of Tassie’s dangerous weather conditions to venture out into the wilderness with the attitude  ‘if they can do it, I can do it too’.

What do you think?

  • how much detail should we share here
  • should I take the ‘map’ down off the site
  • do we have a responsibility for the safety / decisions of others here at Our Hiking Blog
  • do you have any hair raising tales of under prepared hikers you have met
Junction Lake Hut - Cradle Mountain - Walls of Jerusalem

Junction Hut

Further reading: The current issue of Wild magazine (121) tells the story of young Jamie Neal, the young Englishman lost for 12 days in freezing weather in rugged bush terrain in the Blue Mountains last year.  ‘Surviving Solitary’ is an interesting read about Jamie, and about the 3 experienced bushwalkers who later tried to replicate his horror ordeal.

You can visit Matthias’s site, Matt Down Under by clicking here. He has some excellent information about bushwalking in Tasmania and takes a mean photograph (they are all his work in this article).

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t see a problem with publishing route notes, hand-drawn maps or providing GPS map files if it provided under the guise of “this is what I did” or “this is where I walked” rather than “this is a map of an official or approved route.”

    I’d hope that someone downloading a GPS file would realise that in the field, and without a trail as such before them, they will still need to intrepret the information provided by the map – as with any map. The GPS file is a record of where you walked, stepped indeed, and conditions in the field may have changed (water levels, erosion, vegetation density.) It is also limited by the technology of the GPS unit in question (number of points stored, accuracy), and it’s satelitte reception at that moment – and all this is also true of the walker’s GPS who is using your original file. In an area of poor reception this is compounded. Should you include a disclaimer like this, I don’t know.

    You should of course include disclaimers for things like accessing sensitive areas or private/restricted property. You might withhold specific information because of your concern that too many walkers will be detriment to a sensitive area. I have seen information withheld, the author asking people to email them directly to obtain the info.

    The responsibility does ultimately lie with each individual to take care of themselves. We’ve all heard of cases like this hiker, or met them, we all shudder with disbelief of the person’s naivity.

  2. says

    The more detail you share the better. You should include the dangers as well as the rewards. Unprepared hikers are unprepared because they don’t invest time in knowing what they were doing.

    Don’t take the map down but maybe leave a small disclaimer explaining that it is NOT to be used for overland travel and as a reference for planning purposes only.

    The first rule of any outdoor adventure is that you are responsible for yourself. I trained and taught numerous aspiring adventurers and one of the first conversations I have with them is letting them know that if something happens to them it is THEIR responsibility to get out.

  3. Janine says

    Hi there, there have been silly unprepared walkers wandering off in to the wilds of Tasmania since well before GPS plots were available. As long as detailed information is posted alongside the necessary preparations, people will always have to make their own decisions, and learn by experience. I have to say though, having just completed the Overland Track, I am surprised there is not more warning and information about minimum gear suggestions at Dove Lake for instance, for day walkers, as so many of them wander up to Cradle Plateau ill-prepared… and it can get very hairy up there!

    • Frank says

      Thanks Janine,
      Great comment. I agree about day walk gear around Cradle Mountain. We have seen several people on different trips to the area covered in mud, wet and frozen on their day strolls…….

      We are just about to release a “5 Fun things to do at Cradle Mountain” free guide over here : http://cradlemountain.net/ . One “fun” suggestion is the Marions / Cradle / Face track circuit walk from Dove Lake. There is a list of recommended gear to carry in there PLUS weather warnings and even big clouds and an arrow on the map that say “Keep your eye in this direction – this is where the bad weather usually comes from – if it gets dark and you see clouds heading towards you, it’s time to head back home!”

      How was the Overland? Fun?

      • Janine says

        Hi Frank, yes, thank you! Your e-Book was great help, thank you. There were nine of us and we had a great time! We started at Lake St Claire and walked in reverse … had absolutely brilliant weather until last day when Cradle Plateau had mist and wind so strong we were being blown sideways! We took refuge in Kitchen Hut and implemented the ‘first and last must be in sight’ rule and descended via the Face Track actually. Thought it might drop us out of the weather zone more quickly … it made for a perfect trip though. I was hoping our mainlanders would get to experience some wildernessy Tassie weather, and what better day to get in than on the last day when a big juicy steak and a glass of red awaits at the end of track?!! That’s another reason to do it reverse around … Cradle is more fun to ‘play’ at the end!

        • Frank says

          Oh, yes.
          Much prefer to “end at Cradle” – we have done it about 5 times now.

          This article (which now looks a bit dated) http://ourhikingblog.com.au/2006/11/cradle-mountain-local-walk-and-lodge.html was when we nearly froze 10 of our closest friends. We took em to Scott Kilvett for the night and had a drop of snow.

          I have never seen so many happy people when we hit the Lodge.

          p.s. I don’t remember selling you nine books? LOL – new edition VERY soon, you will get sent a link to download it for free (like everyone else who previously bought it)

        • Marion Lawler says

          Hi, Janine,
          I just finished the Overland track for the second time in Dec 2010, but understood that during the Oct to April season everyone had to walk N. to S. We had really wanted to come in from the Arm R. Track to Pelion & walk N. but were told we would be moved on from & not permitted to camp at each campsite if we didn’t have an Overland track Pass & walk N. to S. There were just 2 of us, whereas I read you were 9. … so was I just gullible? Is it OK to walk S. to N.? Any tips on how to manage it during the “season”
          Thanks, Marion

  4. says

    I’m with Clint R on this one. The more information the better surely? Blogs and forums are the only way to find out some extra detail about a particular walk by someone who has actually done it.

    I’ve found most bloggers writing about a walk, will include some information that will be relevant to someone who may replicate it. With the majority of walkers that can only be of help?

    I’m thinking unprepared walkers who existed before the internet will always be around…

    • says

      I think the interesting question is simply, what can we do to reduce the number of unprepared walkers?

      Maybe it would be helpful to create a list of compulsory equipment each hiker must carry (PLB, first-aid, compass…). Or compulsory walker registration for certain areas.

  5. Simone says

    I have to agree with the earlier posts. There is not much you can do to protect people who don’t look out for themselves by doing the necessary research and preparation. Most posts I have read have included descriptions of the dangers and things that can go wrong, so disclaimers are an additional option but one wonders whether they will be read by the people who need them most.

    For those of us who do want to research before we go, all the details and maps you provide are a great inspiration and resource. Keep it up!

    • says

      “so disclaimers are an additional option but one wonders whether they will be read by the people who need them most.

      For those of us who do want to research before we go, all the details and maps you provide are a great inspiration and resource.”

      Right on the mark Simone. True for anyone publishing details and maps not just this website.

  6. Steve Cockburn says

    Hi ,I appreciate the issue but I do not think bloggers need to take on the responsibilities of others decisions. As walkers we need to make the decision ourselves and take all the precautions . Whenever I read one of your blogs and I do often , I need to evaluate and compare my skill and experience. When I read Matthias’ account , I immediately thought , well that guy would not listen to any advice anyway and no matter what was there , he was going to do it his dangerous way. There is a heap of other material there in all the blogs that covers it all from safety to references to maps . So in all , I know it is good to have detail but it is all there if you care to have a look .
    Safe walking friends and I hope our paths cross . Steve c

  7. PhilM says

    I don’t see a problem with the great information you publish. With or without the website people will still go unprepared.
    Keep the information flowing as the website informs more people who can go walking prepared.

  8. says

    Hello Frank,
    Personally I love an overview map to START the planning of a trip. Then I like to proceed to guide books, online resources, GPS tracks, and of course get a great topo map.

    You have a very clearly written disclaimer in place on the blog entry. The map is not even a topo map!!! It would be a shame to not include overview maps. jez_au has some great points and I agree with him. Lastly, hope that guy made it out alright. Boy, you guys have a wild and dangerous environment. Must be just like the movies.

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