from 26 July
Today was the perfect day. I woke up briefly to catch a glimpse of the sunrise, then snuggled deeper into my swag and sleeping bag for another hour or so. Once awake, the group chilled out for a bit with delicious pancakes for breakfast. Even the instant coffee wasn’t too bad with sugar and milk.
From there we jumped full-on into two hikes: Weano Gorge in the morning and Hancock Gorge in the afternoon.
The hike in the morning led us to a watering hole where it was so slippery on the rocks we needed to descend by clutching onto a metal rail; just the month before a girl who hadn’t held on properly fell backward onto pure iron ore. Ouch.
The water was cold, but I jumped in – briefly – anyway.
We trekked back to the parking lot for lunch and then set off in another direction for the other gorge. The hike itself wasn’t too challenging, but one section called the spider walk was a definite adrenaline rush. We needed to move through a passageway by spreading our arms and legs and pressing them against the crevices in the rock to avoid the rushing water below us. If we got our feet wet it was all over; we would slip and fall. The challenge was that the crevices were worn smooth and spread far apart, so even with long legs I struggled.
The reward was worth it; we arrived through the passageway to a swimming hole with deep water for jumping and sunny spots on the rock ledges for drying off and warming up. We spent the better part of the afternoon there before going back to camp.
Bouldering over jagged and layered sedimentary rock went much quicker on the way back, though we still needed to be “hands free” and at our highest concentration to navigate. Our guide Mick didn’t even want us talking to each other in case it was a distraction.
The night was a quiet one. As the group “bbq chef” I helped cook up yummy a chicken and vegetable curry in coconut milk. Both Mick and I got a round of applause from the group.
After a cup of tea, I crawled into my swag and fell asleep underneath the stars, staring at the Milky Way and the thousands of bright lights like nothing I have ever seen before.