Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blue Mountains National Park, Australia -- Wed., Nov. 14

Best waterfall hike ever for us and we've been hiking to waterfalls for 40 years. Even though the mountains were fogged in i.e., in the clouds, we were still able to see and hike to the waterfalls. Until the end of the day, that is. More about that later.

[Please note: Our paid internet will end tonight, so I may not get all the photos in. I will have to put them in when we have internet again--hopefully in three days or so.]

When we headed out of Bowral, our first stop was the Info Centre in Mittagong to ask about the quickest way to Blue Mountain National Park. With that information, we headed out for a day in the mountains. Here's a photo of some beautiful flowers at the Info Centre.

Our drive was about 1-1/2 hours to go bushwalking in the Wentworth Falls area. The clouds were sitting on the tops of the mountains and slinking down into the valleys. We weren't sure we'd be able to see the falls through the clouds and mist, but since we were there, we were going to give it our best shot. Here's a photo of Wentworth Falls when the fog blew away enough to see it.

The bushwalks today were hard. We had planned to do just Wentworth Falls, but ended up doing Princes Lookout to Weeping Rock, Queens Cascade and Wentworth Falls.
Weeping Rock
Sign at top of Wentworth Falls.
View on other side of sign above.
We actually ended up going past Wentworth Falls because the local Info Centre recommended we go along part of the cliff walk. Yikes! I'm happy the cliff had railings and that all the steep stairs had railings as well. We did not go to the bottom because the stairs down were so steep and there were so many of them. We thought it prudent to save some energy for other falls we wanted to hike to.

I was starving as it was lunch time. From Wentworth Falls we headed to lunch at a "pie" shop. A little education for some of our American friends: In England and  Australia, "pies" can also be meat pies. The little place we went to in the area of the falls had wonderful, warm, comforting pies AND delicious-looking dessert pies. I had chicken and mushroom pie, Bob had Tuna Mornay pie. Those hit the spot and fueled us up for our next bout of hiking, which would turn out to be even more grueling than our first hike. We planned to return to the pie shop after our next hike.

Next stop Valley of the Waters car park at the other end of the Wentworth Falls area. Our goal was to hike to Empress, Sylvia, Flat Rock, Lodore, Brittania and Red Rock Falls. Speaking in retrospect, we were a bit ambitious. My goodness, what a fantastic, but hard, bit of bushwalking. Down and down we went on about all different types of stairs imaginable: rock, metal, wood, steep, medium, to almost flat.


Going up.
At Empress Falls, a group was abseiling (rappeling) down the face of Empress Falls. Brrrrr. Very entertaining to watch. I asked one lady who was watching the group if she had ever done anything like that. She turned to me and said, "I just finished. I'm still trying to calm myself down." She told me she got stuck under the flow of the main part of the waterfall and had to get herself out. Double brrrrr. When the rappelers made it to the bottom on of the falls, they splashed down into a pool. Triple brrr.

Abseiling Empress Falls (not us!).

Down and down we went, passing one gorgeous cascade after another. The view upon turning around and looking away from the falls was of exposed rock cliffs of Kings Tableland or Cathedral Point, Kedumba Valley or Valley of the Waters.

It seemed like we went down over 1,000 ft but there was still over 1,000 ft to continue down. When we reached a point in the trail where the trail deteriorated and we had to start fording streams, I told Bob we needed to save some energy to climb back out, so that is where we turned around. We made it back up to the top in an hour. Let's see how my legs feel tomorrow.

All the way down and back up the trail I kept talking about going back to the pie shop to eat after we finished this track. When I was far down on the trail, it was my "pie in the sky." Climbing back up Bob was my "pied piper" and I even thought about pies as I looked at the Australian mag"pies". Bob wasn't much help as he said we wouldn't be eating our pi's squared. Ha ha. (Of course not Bob, pies are round.)

Our return trip to the pie shop, however, did not go as planned. At 4:15 p.m. we drove up to the pie shop. It had closed at 4:00 p.m. It was completely dark and locked up. Boo.

The other waterfall areas we had wanted to hike today were around Leura and Katoomba Falls. The Leura area has about five waterfalls, so we knew we couldn't get to all that today. We decided to try to see Katoomba Falls, the second largest waterfall in the Blue Mountains after Wentworth Falls. As we drove to Katoomba, the fog was drifting in the road and it was quite misty. We parked the car at the trailhead, but then weren't quite sure which way to go to see Katoomba Falls. We asked a very kindly gentleman who pointed us in the right direction but said the falls were not visible and hadn't been for the past two hours.

That is when we made the decision to give up on our waterfalls for the day and come back tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be better. We had planned to go to the coast, but enjoyed what we saw so much today that another day in Blue Mountains National Park is in order. A certain pie shop is calling our names too. I told Bob we could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. We'll need the energy for all the hiking bushwalking we have planned.

As we came back up the track from trying to find Katoomba Falls, right at the top was a gorgeous male lyrebird. I got a great picture of him.

Male Superb Lyrebird.
Our internet time is just about up. I'm done with this blog for today. Time to check my email one last time (at least until about three or four days from now).

Travel Bug out.