Today I was planning to post a route map and overview notes from my recent traverse of Southwest Tasmania. It was to be the first in a series of articles on what was one of the toughest trips I have done.
However, a few hours ago I received a news link containing some very sad news. It concerned the tragic death of a hiker on the southern side of Federation Peak, in SW Tasmania’s rugged Arthur Range.
The incident happened on March 23, and the victim in question was Melissa Fisher, a 32 year Launceston woman and an experienced bushwalker.
The news stunned me.
On the afternoon of March 21, I met Melissa and her hiking companion who were on their way to Federation Peak. I was headed in the opposite direction towards the Farmhouse Creek Trailhead. I’d just been on the summit of Fed Peak the day before and hadn’t seen a single other person since descending the mountain.
As often happens in the backcountry when you encounter other hikers, the three of us stopped and chatted for half an hour or so. Both ladies were in great spirits. We talked about upcoming campsites, laughed about the tattered condition of my trekking pants and eventually wished each other well on our respective journeys. I continued going east. They went towards the setting sun.
The next day I finished my hike just before noon. I signed the trailhead register and took a photo of the page to mark what was the end of my journey; something I had only ever done once before in all my years of hiking. I looked at this image again this afternoon after hearing the sad news. Melissa’s name appeared immediately above my own.
Rest in peace, Melissa. My condolences to family and friends.