Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blue Mountains

I was up and off early Saturday to take the train to the Blue Mountains for a visit. It's about 130 kilometers from Sydney and takes about 2 hours by train. Actually, the Blue Mountains are not mountains, apparently, but rather a large set of cliffs surrounding a plateau. People talk highly of the area so I figured it warranted a look-see.

The Blue Mtns spread for many miles and I chose the town of Katoomba to start my visit. I arrived at the train stop and huffed it a mile or so to Echo Point and one of the local visitor's centers. I had a quick chat with one of the friendly staff there and planned out a 10-12K "bushwalk" (hike). Started out up on the cliffs and walked along the ridge overlooking the plateau for several kilometers. It was a bit foggy and overcast, so many of the views were limited to start. Next it was time to drop down the "Federal Stairs" into the valley. The drop down was 30 minutes of rock-carved steps, old wooden stairs, rocky trails, etc. I was already dreading the trip back up the cliffs! The trip through the plateau was stunning, as the weather cleared and the views were amazing. I walked right under the famed "Three Sisters" and continued through the rugged paths to a famous mountain landslide from several decades ago. I also passed what the Guinness Book calls the world's steepest railway…..a train that drops 900 feet over about 2000 feet. It was used for dragging coal out of the valley many years back but now transports tourists too lazy to take the stairs! I continued walking around the valley and was planning on trying to make it over to a place called the Ancient Castle. About half way to the castle, I realized I'd been out hiking for almost 5 hours and that I wouldn't make it to the site and back before dark. So, I made the smart decision and turned around to huff it back to civilization. The final challenge was to take the Furber Stairs out of the valley…..900 steps very straight up! I got to the top and realized I'd pretty much reached the end of my physical limits…I was wiped out from 6.5 hours of tough terrain.

I hopped on the train back to the city and fell asleep not 5 minutes into the trip. I was exhausted but had an incredible day. Check out a few of the pictures to the right.

1 comment:

Trisha said...

WOW! What an incredible day! Makes our hikes around here look pitiful!!!