Friday, June 12, 2015

Boomers Risk Life and Limb to See Waterfalls

Yesterday was a big hike day in the Blue Mountains.  After a little discussion, we opted for the six-hour more difficult hike over the four-hour wimp hike.  Rightly or wrongly, we always assume we are fit enough for most trails provided they do not include rappelling off the side of a mountain.  After this hike,  we may revisit that high opinion of ourselves.

Our chosen trail was the Wentworth, Hippocreme and Vera Falls trail.  There were actually six waterfalls on this hike so I don't know why they just didn't name it the Tour de Falls.  I took photos of at least five of them, though with the exception of Wentworth Falls, I'm not sure which is which. By the time I do my Shutterfly book I'll have it all figured out but for now they are just pretty pictures.
One of those Waterfalls

It's interesting what makes a hike fun.  Obviously some gorgeous scenery wildlife spotting, and sunshine help the rating.  This trail had some great scenery, six waterfalls as a start. Not much wildlife except for a flock of cockatoos, and only a spot of sunshine.  But for me fun also includes a little safe challenge. This one definitely had a few.  For my younger readers, keep in mind we are senior citizens.

First there was the steepness of the hike.  We hiked 650 meters down and 650 meters back up.  For you non-metric folks, that's about 2130 feet. The Shanghai Tower, 2nd tallest building in the world, is 2100 feet.   Of course it wasn't straight down except for a few meters at the top.  And for that stretch the Australian National Park builders gave us some ladders to descend. Still, I didn't look down. It made for a nice photo op.
Descending the Trail

Next was the narrow and cliff hugging trails.  One small section was only the width of my foot. Bill's foot was almost too wide.  I found that if I got the right perch at the bottom of the single foot trail, I could basically swing myself to the wider part.   Some of the trails also hugged the cliff, but the Aussies generally had some fences on the most dangerous spots. Again a good photo op.
Don't Look Down

Third was the historic nature of part of the trail. One portion of the hike was billed as "rough and indistinct" for only expert navigators. Hubby declared that he was a very excellent navigator (said in the same voice as Ray in Rainman).  Indeed we lost the trail twice.  And I, the normally directionally challenged, spotted the the correct course correction.  Just sayin'.

And the final reason I enjoyed this hike was its occasional danger. I loved all the moss covered trees and rocks and kept running my hands through what seemed like a little soft bright green forest.  Unfortunately, the moss turned ugly when it covered the stones we were supposed to use to cross a very cold, fast rushing, and rocky Jamison Creek.  I did a rear first slide down one stone just trying to reach the main crossing point.  Hubby went first to assess the situation and concluded that he needed to strike a new path.  The trail had us walking across several wet slippery boulders then jumping about a foot onto another slanted slippery rock.  He was convinced we'd slide into the creek if we attempted it.  So the Hub forged a new route across the creek while I waited at the intended trail awaiting his help across.  I wish I had a photo of this scene, but as we were the only two hikers around for the majority of the time on the trail, there was no way to capture the moment.  It involved Hubby sitting on the edge of the final boulder while I climbed up in between his legs then somehow worked my way around him.  Truth be told, I think I could have made the leap.  We had two more creek crossings but they did not match the first crossing adventure.

Hubby Crossing the Creek

It took us about six hours to finish our trek.  By the end I was feeling the weakness in the quads and my knees were a bit achy but I was also feeling triumphant. Only 20,000 steps but half of them were vertical.

About midway through the hike, we discussed whether this was our hardest one.  We concluded that our hike on the Exit Glacier in Alaska still won that honor. It was a nine-hour hike on a snow-covered trail. I wanted to quit several times.  But this one came close.

Back to Sydney!

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