Monday, December 08, 2014

Hiking: Not that bad.

Ollie points a stick at a waterfall.
With Heidi and my holiday stars aligning, we chose to indulge in a two day adventure to explore somewhere new around our Australian home.  More than ever before, the deliberation over where to adventure dragged on, with the process a journey in itself.

After 4 years of adventuring together, Heidi has grown weary of missions which I hastily label as easy, and after experiencing a joyous weekend of hiking with some girlfriends a few months back, she had a hankering for some more type-1 fun adventure. These consist of only pleasurable activities with no excessive exertion, at odds with the type-2 fun plagued by difficulty, risk and pain which I tend to favour.

Acknowledging the need for a compromise, I embraced the concept of type-1 fun and we set about plotting our weekend plans. As the days ticked down we considered bike touring from Bathurst, an off road bike pack along the 6 foot track to Jenolan caves, and even a last minute flight to Cairns, Alice Springs or Darwin.

Carrying some bruised knees from  a particularly enduro huck to rock (enduro because I was wearing a colourful top), the prospect of slogging up or down hills with a heavy pack didn’t hold as much appeal as a ride, but the absence of a route with type-1 friendly distances meant it was a hike or a weekend of housebound misery.

Our last minute decision to walk from Blackheath to Acacia Flat meant we didn’t get a chance to print the route instructions, but backups on a phone and GPS meant we could find the route if we became geographically misplaced.

Heidi begins the adventure at the Mosman ferry terminal
A pleasant ferry and train journey and we were off on our merry way, descending from Evan’s Lookdown into the cool humidity of the gully below, so enthralled by the moss covered scenes that we bowled right past the turnoff to Acacia Flat.

Historic hand hewn steps through the canyon
Trundling on, we gaped at the chasms of the Blue Mountain’s very own grand canyon, which was just like the real one only much smaller. Waterfalls over the track made for refreshing stops, while off to the side of the tracks we saw speleological enthusiasts lowering themselves into the dark caverns below.

Ollie ponders the steps ahead
It wasn’t until we’d hiked out the other side of the canyon that we realized we’d erred, the GPS failing to get a signal through the narrow canyon opening, and signage proving sparser than we’d hoped.

Backtracking, we accepted that we’d get to know the canyon just a little bit better, and on reaching the turnoff we kicked ourselves for having hastily passed the obscured signs.

Descending down washed out tracks, the route took on the feel of a gnarled bush trail, with rock clambering and tree swinging making for pleasant relief on my weak cyclist’s knees.

Reaching the river flat Heidi spied a lyrebird, and adding this to the snakes and lizards which we’d already seen, our critter count was racking up.

A staunch lizard suns itself
A final stroll along the flat took us two a beautiful campsite where we set up a stove and set about indulging our favourite hiking sin; gluttony.

The post dinner feast view 
Sleep came easily and in the morning we did the reverse, branching off at junction rock for a long climb back to Govett’s leap. While both of us were initially stiff, the heat of the day saw limbs loosened up, and only when fatigue set in on the long drag along Pope’s Glen Walk to Blackheath did the spring in our step become saggy.

Some serious stair action made ascending the cliff a doddle
Dragging weary limbs onto the platform at Blackheath, we inhaled the remainder of our food and contemplated our failed efforts at a type-1 weekend.  Despite our best efforts we’d been lost and got sore, which is how a good type-2 adventure usually ends up anyway. 

Views to suffer for
While I was immediately satisfied, it took a week of recovery and some hilarious stiff legged hobbling around the house before Heidi could reflect on the adventure in a positive light. We’d experienced a beautiful part of the world and far from discouraging our pursuit of type-1 fun, we’ve started a list so that when the next opportunity arises we’ll have some options ready to roll (or stroll)!

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