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“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us–yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses…In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them…” (Isaiah 63:7,9)
The track through the Western Arthurs Mountain Range in Southwest National Park is known as the most difficult track in Tasmania, and by some, one of the most difficult in all of Australia. But for all its difficulty, it is also one of the most beautiful natural places in Australia with its jagged mountain peaks and glacial lakes. It was the rugged beauty of this wild, remote Tasmanian mountain range that compelled me to venture out there on a solo backpacking trip.
The first trial backpackers face on their way to the Western Arthurs is 3-4 hours of constant M-U-D. From Scotts Peak Dam to the base of Alpha Moraine at the base of the range, the mud is unfathomable. The track is also hemmed in by impenetrable scrub overhanging the virtually unmaintained track, so in between getting scratched to pieces and sunken in the mud, the journey to just the base of the range quickly becomes arduous and miserable.
With a pack weighing half of what I do strapped to my back, I sank into the mud over my ankles with nearly every step and sometimes up to my knees. I was feeling a bit down at the time anyway because of a few personal circumstances, and the long slog through the mud certainly wasn’t helping me any. In a depressing sort of comical way I soon began to feel like Atreyu in the Swamps of Sadness in The Neverending Story. I wondered if I should just give up and turn around several times.
As always, my natural circumstances led me into spiritual contemplation, and I was vividly reminded of the Scripture:
“I consider that our present sufferings and are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
God gives us believers this Scripture to encourage us during the difficult times. The hope of being with Jesus, the hope of heaven, the hope of being finally freed from the capacity to sin and the hope of finally being conformed to the likeness of Christ outweighs all of our earthly troubles.
I knew that the breathtaking beauty of God’s Creation lay beyond my present trials and there was great reward if I persevered, so I cried out to the Lord in prayer that he would strengthen me, encourage me and help me continue on, just as I must do spiritually.
God answered my prayer and did strengthen me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Not only that, but he also showered me with blessing upon blessing in every way throughout the entire duration of my trip. This photograph, which is actually a panorama of 5 photos stitched together, was one of the first of these blessings.
I made it through the MUD to Junction Creek campground just before nightfall. I was very thankful when another party of walkers arrived from the opposite direction, in answer to more of my prayers, otherwise I would have been camped there totally alone. As we were talking, I looked up through the trees and could see some beautiful sunset colors.
“Wow, I wish I was up on the range tonight. Look at this gorgeous sky”, I said to one walker.
She replied, “Well, why don’t you just go up to the track junction a few minutes away and take a picture from there? Don’t you know that past these trees it opens up to the Arthurs Plains and you get a full view of the entire mountain range?”
I had no idea.
I had never been this way before, and aside from a few partial glimpses of the range, my whole trip thus far had only featured mud and scratchy branches. With no time to lose, I grabbed my camera and ran to the junction. When I made my way through the last of the trees and stepped out onto the plains my jaw dropped…
The vastness of the Western Arthurs mountain range opened up before me, spanning from horizon to horizon, along with the most beautiful sunset at its peak, which no one could ever adequately capture in a photograph.
As I stood there and shot this lovely sight I felt amazingly blessed and satisfied by God. After all the trials of the day, here God had rewarded me with something far greater than I deserved for my efforts. I stood there awed and humbled at God’s overwhelming goodness to me, and this was only one of the first blessings on this trip.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
(Here is a short video and small article about some highly adventurous people scaling Federation Peak in the neighboring Eastern Arthurs Range. While my short adventure into the Western Arthurs nowhere neared the technical difficulty these climbers faced, one can certainly get a sense of the difficulties involved in climbing these ranges…not in the least the mud and scrub…)