Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The 6' Track, Blue Mountains, Australia

The first weekend I stayed in the Blue Mountains there was a flyer posted in the hostel looking for someone who wanted to hike something called "The six foot track". I googled it and decided that sounded like something fun to do, so I emailed "Roy" from the hostel computer to ask if he was still interested. I didn't hear anything back for a couple days and went back to Sydney figuring I wouldn't. But the next day I got an email from Roy. He was interested and he was is Sydney so we met to discuss the trip over coffee.

We got along well enough, so we decided to head to Katoomba the next day. Roy knew Katoomba a bit better than I did and introduced me to the Common Ground Cafe. They sell the best roast beef sandwich I have ever had and also have the most reasonable prices I've seen yet here. I highly recommend it for anyone who happens to be in Katoomba...

After a solid night's sleep back at the same hostel I saw the flyer in we caught a bus to the Jenolan caves which are at one end of the track. An overturned milk truck delayed the bus a couple hours on the way out, so we took only a quick look around Jenolan before heading down the trail.

The cave/tunnel the road goes through entering Jenolan.

The first hydro-electric dam in Australia. The caves had electric lighting a year after the invention of the light bulb. 

We climbed these stairs for a long time. The first couple of miles just kept going up and up. 

Now this looks to be about six foot wide. Very creative naming system. 

The first kangaroos! Or maybe they are Wallabies. It depends who I ask. 
They were actually pretty comfortable with us.

My first ever southern hemisphere fire. It took me a couple tries to discover a good fire starter. 
The first day was actually really hard between starting out late and so much steep climbing right there at the start. It felt like the trail just intentionally went to top of the highest hill for no good reason. I felt a little discouraged as we finished the day worn out after 12 km on the trail and maybe 3 getting started knowing we still had another 35 to go. But the camp fire was nice, company was good, the food was warm, and the sky was perfectly clear and dark.

After spending the day hiking through forests of different eucalyptus trees, listening to strange bird songs I couldn't even begin to identify, the reality of this trip finally sank in as looked up at that alien sky full of stars I've never known. A few people have asked over the last weeks if the trip felt real, but it never quite seemed to until then.

If you have a high resolution screen you should be able to make out a number of stars.
Thanks for the new camera departure gift guys. It's been great so far. 

Despite hiking more than twice as far, the second day was much easier. The terrain was mostly rolling or down hill and Roy and I found an easy pace to roll across the country side at. We ended up hiking a third farther than we expected to and camped next to a river. 

I actually expected a lot more of the track to look like this being use to trails in the US. But, it was a nice mix. 

Roy crossing the "swing bridge" over the Coxs river.

Heading onto the bridge.

Roy got a shot of me crossing from the far side. The bridge swayed way more than I expected. I guess it's well named. 

What the heck is this doing out here? Yes, it's a prickly pear. No, I don't have a clue what it is doing in the Blue Mountains. 

Sunset after 25 kilometeres.

The third day was mostly steep climbing back up out of the valley floor; it wasn't a long day. It was only 10km back to town and few more in town, but it was a lot of climbing over those first 8km. I didn't take many pictures and just enjoyed challenging myself physically on the climb up.

Celebrating the end of the trek. 
We went back to Common Ground for another sandwich, stopping for a drink on the way. Our timing was near perfect as it started to snow as we got to the Cafe. It didn't stick at all, but never expected to see snow in Australia at all and Roy hasn't seen it in years so it was a nice bonus. 


  1. The prickly pear made me laugh. I (if you can believe it) am having a hard time getting iMessage to work, but once I do, I'll let you know. It will be nice to have a handy way to talk to you.

  2. Looks like a very fun trip. Great night sky picture! Have you identified the Southern Cross yet?

  3. I think so, but I am not completely sure.