Sunday, December 25, 2011

On top of Australia!!!!

I love having goals, especially that moment when you achieve it.  Standing on the top of a continent is a pretty good one :)  I really wanted to do Australia’s highest peak and although it was proving to be difficult to make it happen, I was going to find a way.  Even with all the internet has to offer I was having bad luck finding out how to get there, where to start, etc.  Its a big ski destination in winter, but in summer it seems like no public transportation goes there. One woman told me if I could get to Canberra, I could take a bus to Cooma, then a bus to Jindabyn, and then have to walk/find a way from there to base.  If no other way was readily available, I was prepared to walk... it’s 35km to the starting point.  That distance (21.7miles) doesn’t scare me in general... but I was pretty apprehensive about doing it with my big pack. I was allowing two days to do so. Thankfully, Dazza caught a lucky break and just minutes before I was going to buy my bus ticket to Canberra, I get a text that said, “Want a hiking buddy?”  Hellllllsss yes! 

Me and Dazza, about to set off!

He picked me up Tuesday night at 7:30 pm, after P&G and I had Champagne :).   We had a 700km drive in front of us. I barely made it to 11 before I passed out (have I mentioned Im a terrible road trip buddy?? :(   He drove another hour or so before we stopped at the rest area and slept in the car.   His car has this wonderful quirk in that the passenger door doesn’t open, so every time we stop, I have to climb out his side.;) Well, that was pretty suckola when sleeping since I didnt want to wake him to get my stuff from the trunk, so I just frooozzeee my butt off instead. It was good practice I suppose;). About 5am we hit the road again. Saw 2 live kangaroos crossing the road (yay!) and 6 roadkill ones. boo :(  Not really liking that ratio :(   We also came across a huge flock of sheep being herded in the road!!!  It was awweeesomeee! We finally made it to Jindabyne around 11am, got some food for the trek, and headed off! 

Yaaaayyy kangaroo in the wild!

Off we go!!

Originally I thought, oh I'll climb the seven summits!!!  These are the seven highest mountains on each continent.  After some research though, it seems you pretty much need to be massively loaded to do all these. Ummmm goals are good but not if they cost you $170k! haha. I am going to do Mt. Kilimanjaro later this year (Africa’s highest) and who knows, maybe I will be loaded one day and will put it on the bucket list :) !!   Australia’s tallest mountain, at 2228 meters (7,310 feet) is by far the smallest.  The whole climb from base to summit took 5 hrs and 45 minutes. We were soooo not in a hurry, I think we both took around 300 pics ;)  We went up on what’s called the Main Range trek, which has many many ups and downs, and is 15.3 km, including a side trail to see Blue Lake (a beautiful glacial lake) for a lunch spot (tuna again! surprise!).   The most interesting things about the views were the lack of trees (like zero), the scattered boulders everywhere, and the patches of snow on a hot summer day that looked like optical illusions.  Also interesting to me, we didn’t see one animal (only birds and bugs).  My fav parts were crossing the Snowy River over the boulders, and this one section which was next to the dropoff with tricky footing.  Classic :)  It had lots of ups and downs to keep in interesting.  Overall it was a very nice hike, doable by all, that I would highly recommend to anyone. Go! 

Lunch view. Blue lake awesomeness

My fav part of the trail...every step made the view different

Around the time we were “thinking” we were getting close to summit, I was feeeeeeling it!  Whoaaaa... reality check.  Hiking with a ginormous backpack is sssoooo not the same as hiking w/ a day pack.  I could possibly have gone another hour, but I did do a little happy dance (internally, no energy for physically!) when we saw the “summit- 800m away” sign!  The backpack is not too bad, its a good one that rests the weight on the lower back... but it's still 40 lbs!  It seriously takes a toll on the amount of time you can travel.  As is typical for me, before anything else my feet where like ouccchh!  As we were approaching the summit, some kid comes running by us in nothing but little nike shorts and tennies! Then another! We were like wwwhhhaaattt???  hahha. Turns out they ran up the road, but still.... 9km at an incline is pretty impressive!  It was 100% fog cover at the top, but lucky for us we were camping out, so got another shot for clear view in the morn.  We set up camp on as flat of ground we could find... which turns out to be pretty far from flat ;)  We got in the tent at 6:30, and as the cold set in we only got out to pee and check the small glimpses of sunset we could see thru the fog. 

We drank box wine, played cards and 20 questions, ate spaghetti-o’s on pita bread, and rotated the talking between our awesome day’s triumph and our recent heartbreaks, which caused more wine drinking and soppy song listening.  We had to rotate who got more blanket- Im def a warm weather type person..another reason Mt. Vinson (Antarctica's) might not be a good idea! ;) Nothing like friendship bonding in the freeeezzzzing cold over wine and lost love! 

Our first summit... 100% fog!

Freeeeezing in the tent!

Morning came at about 6am, still freezing but at least the sun was up!  We climbed back to the summit and rejoiced in our second triumph... this one with a rewarding 360 view!  After shouting out our awesomeness cheers of being the highest people in the continent,  be headed back and broke down camp, shivering.  The hike down was on the 9km summit track.  We were soooo thankful to not have taken that route the day before because in reality it was just a road with a consistent decline.  Pretty views yes, but not nearly as gratifying as a real trail (and even the Main Range one had lots of portions that were path). You can find all the pics here!  Days 9 and 10 :)  

Highest person in the whole continent right there!


Coming back down... I love rocks!

A cairn (or is it inukshuk?) on the snowy river. Yes, I added a rock- had to!

Back down to Jindabyne, I was going to take the original bus plan backwards to Cooma, Canberra and eventually Sydney.  As it turns out, there are NO busses to Cooma, and the only option from Cooma to Canberra is a $120 luxury bus! OUccchh!  What luck then that Dazza was able to come!! Otherwise I would have gotten to Canberra and realized it would have cost me a shit ton!!!! ...and not to mention that 21.7 mile walk would have taken forever knowing now about my pack! YAY for small miracles!!!!

This was just the first of many plans I have on this trip!  Checkkkkk!!!!  There’s something sooo awesome about achieving a goal/ dream/ idea. Especially for me a physical one! Crossing the finish line in a 5k, 10k, a marathon, a triathlon, summiting the mountain..... just makes me want more of that feeling!!!!  That feeling of pain yet joy!  You always have just a littttle more in the tank than what you’d thought. We were sooo tired but when we saw that "800 meter to summit" sign we both had quite a bit more energy.  Just even simple things like getting out when you’re tired and doing a run.  I love that moment when you finish and you’re soooo glad you went.  I’ve never regretted doing it, just when I bailied on myself.  Dazza and I were sooo ridiculously euphoric about being at the top... especially for him being an Australia.  He stripped down to zilch and I took a pic of him on the top.... he's not sharing that pic thought! hahah
ps... Merry Christmas!!!


  1. Bet you can't get all those sheep to paddle in time in a dragon boat together! Have fun, my friend! - Hype

  2. How nice the emotional high was equal to the physical high of being "on top". You look great. Hope you took that pictures of Dazza with your eyes closed. : ) Love, Mom with a heart