A little bit of scrambling

Nature and I are on speaking terms again. We’re not besties or anything, but we have come to a tacit agreement that we can get along for a few hours at a time. For those who don’t know our history, we had a falling out about 10 years ago during 4 day camping trip in upstate New York. I feel like I was making an effort, and nature decided to eat me alive after thoroughly washing me and almost frying me. I emerged from the forest that September afternoon with more bug bites than freckles and was less than pleased with nature. We needed to take a break. And so we did.

Nature and I were pretty tight when I was ten. I was even a Junior Naturalist – we camped and canoed, and walked on a balance beam in the woods (I’m not sure why that last one was a part of Jr. Naturalists, but I remember doing it quite a bit). The camp counselors even given “nature names” to reflect how well we got along with nature. My best friend was “gazelle” because she was so graceful. I was “earth”, which made me really excited – I was everything! My excitement was short lived – according to the counselors who named us, it was actually because I always had a smudge of dirt on my face.

With a bond like that, I realized we couldn’t avoid each other forever, so for the past few years I’ve been trying to work things out with my one-time nemesis. And things are getting better. We don’t do anything crazy like week-long hikes where I have to carry all my water, but a few hours in the woods in Maine or over a mountain to a beach in Tasmania are now possible. We have had our ups and downs – such as getting rained, hailed, and sleeted on in the middle of summer then having our trail snowed over and impassable (near Shymbulak) or having the map stop matching reality and the trail taking twice as long as it should (near Katoomba) – but I think we are reaching a good place.

It's all fun and games until it starts hailing.

It’s all fun and games until it starts hailing.

I’m trying not to push things too quickly, so when a fellow student asked if anyone wanted to go on a hike with “some rock scrambling (nothing too hard!) and forest walking along a ridge with great views over the country”, I thought why not! That sounds like fun. So on Saturday, I found myself in a car, driving out to the Cathedral ranges – about two hours from Melbourne.

And it was fun. It was a really beautiful hike – or bush walk, as they are called here. The term “bush walk”, however, conjures up the idea of ambulating through low shrubbery. At least for me it does. This could in no way be described as strolling (or even walking in parts of it).

The first part was pretty much straight up.

The first part was pretty much straight up.

So we climbed. And climbed. And climbed. I haven’t done any rock climbing since I was a Jr. Naturalist, so I was a little out of practice. Emphasis on was. I feel very practiced now.

And climbed. And climbed. And climbed.

And climbed. And climbed. And climbed.

The online description of the hike also mentioned a cave. Spelunking! That sounds exciting. And it was – so exciting I almost got stuck.

This trail is not for those of large gut or chest.

This trail is not for those of large gut or chest.

But we made it to the top – even when the path markers appeared to be telling us to climb a tree.

The trail actually went outside the rock face here. I'm not convinced climbing a tree would have been less scary.

The trail actually went outside the rock face here. I’m not convinced climbing a tree would have been less scary.

And it was worth it. The views were, as promised, spectacular.

Spectacular view of the Razoback.

Spectacular view of the Razoback.

We followed Razorback Ridge towards Cathedral Peak, and cut out at the Farm Yard – possibly named for the Lyre birds who mimic farm yard animals. These birds are amazing. We didn’t hear them singing – we only saw females, and I don’t know if they do the mimicry too – but if you don’t believe me about how awesome these birds are, at least you can believe David Attenborough:

We didn’t see a ton of other wildlife on our trek – mostly tiny lizards and butterflies. We did see a wallaby crossing the road on the way home and a fair amount of wombat poop. If you didn’t know this, wombats poop cubes! No really:

Cubic poop. Picasso would be proud.

Cubic poop. Picasso would be proud.

So nature and I had a good day together. And then I was bitten by a leech. Two steps forward, one step back. Thanks, nature.

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~ by Genevieve on May 13, 2013.

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