Today we have pulled up sore and tired from another big weekend of hiking, this time from Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. We met at the end of an unsealed road at a place called Perry’s Lookdown, and hastily erected a tent, anticipating that we would feel pretty wrecked at the end of the day! Our wonderful supports drove us back in to Blackheath, then out to Govett’s Leap, where you can usually see panoramic views of the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately for us, not this time, we couldn’t see more than a few metres due to the drizzle and fog!
It was in these conditions that we descended the Govett’s Leap trail towards Bridal Veil Falls. This trail literally clings to a sheer cliff’s face, it is wet and slippery at the best of times, and there are some very steep sections that make you feel dizzy from the height and proximity to the edge. In some ways the fog was a mixed blessing, because our members that were afraid of heights couldn’t see the full extent of our height!!
Our legs were trembling by the time we finished our 1.5hr descent, and we had a quick break at the bottom of the falls before continuing on towards Acacia Flat. Acacia Flat is is beautiful riverside camping group that is only accessible by foot. We had a damp lunch and loo break around an equally damp fireplace (extinguished), then eagerly packed ourselves up; we were going to see the Heritage Listed Blue Gum Forest! Blue Gum forest is an imposing and spiritual place, where you are surrounded by long and ghostly, 20 metre high Blue Gum trees. These trees don’t have branches, except at the very tops of their trunks, and the smooth forest of tree-trunks almost appear to glow in the misty conditions.
From here, we had a 2-3hr staircase (literally…. no flat bits) to reach Perry’s Lookdown. This set of stairs is only achievable by resigning yourself to the hours, and doing the best you can. Needless to say, even the last member came in at about 2hrs… we don’t muck about! The fog had not lifted, and we didn’t get a view as a reward, but most of us were too tired to care! Tracey was funny when she commented “the view never changes”, because it didn’t!!!
We have to thank our supports, who whisked off half our team who were staying in town, and shuttled the cars back for those who were camping! They also took our group photos and were always cheerily waiting for us at the end of the trails.
Deb’s husband managed to get a Winnebago down the track, and it wasn’t long before our entire camping contingent were ensconced in it drinking wine and sharing chocolate! We were in bed as soon as it was dark, then awake again at dawn for Day 2.
Even though it was supposed to clear, Day 2 was as foggy and drizzly as Day 1! We cleaned up our wet tents, and got away from the campsite a full 30min early, with our fingers crossed that a cafe would be open in Blackheath!!! The Deli was the only sign of life, and they agreed to open 30min early for us, and we were very grateful! We even bought an extra coffee to share!
Today we would be starting and finishing at Govetts Leap. Energised by our coffee’s, we took off only a few minutes late to Evans Lookout. This is a very pretty trail normally, but again, we couldn’t see the view, so many of our hikers wouldn’t know it still! We limited our breaks because we knew that we had a longer day today. We made the half-way point in really good time, even though we had lost the trail a couple of times, and had to clamber over rocks like we hadn’t since we were kids. After lunch, we had a generally downhill hike, and it appeared easy. However appearances are deceptive as this was the point where Sandra twisted her ankle last year, and this year it was Gretchen that went down when she slipped on a rock. She was already sore with troublesome knees, and landed on one locked out – which then bothered her for the rest of the hike (4 hours worth of bother).
The group convened at “Junction Rock”, placed between two rivers, and the start of 5km of uphill and stairs. While climbing out of the Govett’s Leap trail is not quite as hard as Perry’s, we were tired and sore and had already done a lot of clambering already in the 5 or so hours previously. The Govett’s Leap trail is also always wet, and extremely steep. It is breathtaking, dizzying, and slippery, and takes another 2 hours of solid climbing to make it out. In addition, there were logs across the trail from a recent storm, that we had to climb over and under, all with our backpacks on and our sore bodies!!
Ultimately, we all achieved the desired outcome: getting out before dark! It was a massive 8-9hrs total (depending on whether you came in first or last), and everyone was drenched, stoked, exhausted, and exhilarated all at once! Congratulations everyone! We are SO PROUD of you! Thank you for being such great company!