Our 2017 Hiking Group is certainly a mash of different people. and it is twice the size of any group we have put together before. However, most of our team came together in the most wonderful way over the long weekend, when we spent 3 days hiking the 6ft track together, from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves.
Because it was such a big group, we have two sessions every week, so that if you can’t make one, you can try and make the other. In addition, everyone has a Step Routine to follow, and 24/7 pin code access to the gym if they want to train outside their hikes. A lot of work went in to the 2017 calendar, as we have at least 9 participants who have all come hiking with us before, and the goal was to uncover local “gems” that they never knew existed. For this reason, Maddy and I were walking as early as July, uncovering tracks and creating GPS maps. To this end, we have enjoyed great success, and our own participants have been wonderful enhancing this experience. A highlight for me was Gretchen discovering that Deep Creek Reserve was a Nazi Internment Camp, and showing us the swastika engravings in the rocks.
Only last week, Julie brought her kids and found new trails out the back of Warriewood Wetlands, and of course, it wouldn’t be hiking if we didn’t get lost, which Maddy and I took care of a couple of weeks ago during a recon walk!
Our first tentative steps as a team were down Kedumba Pass in Wentworth Falls. A massive 6hr hike which is 9km down, another 9 up, and an additional 1.5 each way to and from the cars. It was lovely to see our slowest hiker had company the whole way, and our fittest pulled up very very sore! It was a great leveller, but not equal to last weekend…
The 6ft Track is a commonly walked track, dotted with campsites that are accessible by car (which is why we chose it). We had my dad, and 3 of the other spouses as support, and they ferried our bags and tents from location to location, as well as dropping off the hikers who only did 2 days. With just our daypacks, we set off down a narrow staircase just past the Explorers Stump in Katoomba. After making it to the valley floor, we had a relatively easy fire trail to follow until the trail joined an unsealed road. It was tempting to follow the many signs to the local wineries, but we refrained and soon descended into single trail again. Babs and Jen were rushed at by a black snake chasing a water dragon, and Jen was astute enough to pull her camera out instead of running away! Only 1km from our campsite, we had to cross the “swinging bridge”, and excellent baptism for what we will have to do in Nepal!
Many of us were cold that first night, and it was a hard-won lesson: make sure you have the right gear! With some of our team leaving after the 2nd day hiking, we swapped some bags and tents, and had a much better 2nd night. The 2nd day hiking, however, was a different story. Immediately upon leaving the campsite, we begin about an hour’s uphill climb. there was a lovely flat and down interlude, then we had to complete another 4 hours uphill, before trudging about 2-3hrs on a flat, undulating, ridge to our campsite. It was 22km, over 6hrs of intensive effort, and a fantastic test of our hiker’s mettle. Needless to say, they all passed, even the two who were rescued (they’d done over 18km in 8hrs… it was time!).
With legs like lead we completed the 3rd day in under 3hrs. A very pleasant, undulating, mix of fire and single trails, before a sharp descent in to Jenolan Caves. Our support crews were all there to meet us, and were as excited as we were to see them! Because of the different tracks, many of our team had an opportunity to walk with different people, and get to know them. And there is nothing like wearing the same clothes for 3-days straight to work out who’s your friend and who isn’t!
I was very proud of these guys who completed this trip! And i look forward to our next adventure; on the 14th October we head in to the heritage listed Blue Gum Forest at Blackheath!