30 days to overnight hiking challenge, 24th April 2017
I have just walked the most beautiful track that I have ever seen! I saw a lost world of amazing little waterfalls, soaring cliffs, a dark tunnel, a beautiful trickling river, majestic views over the grose valley and a lyrebird!
As part of the 30 days to overnight hiking challenge run by blogger Caro Ryan of lotsafreshair.com I have to do a full day heavy pack walk ahead of next weeks overnight hike in the woods with the critters. I realised that since starting my blog the Blue mountains national park had yet to make an appearance so I took the opportunity that a surprise day off provided and headed up to blackheath.
The journey began at 5am with a half hour walk to the train station followed by a 2.5hour train ride. Blackheath itself is awesome and I stopped in one of it’s fantastic cafes before beginning the walk.
The first leg was a road walk to join the braeside walk. This fire trail was home to some yellow tailed black cockatoos and I love their call. I soon found the trail head to the Grand Canyon track but started off going the wrong way. The map hadn’t shown a road alongside and yet there it was! I realised I was on the return leg so I backtracked and found the entrance to the track. More yellow tailed black cockatoos greated me and I began the descent into the Canyon. Things got really pretty, really quickly!
There were lush ferns and trickles of water, and large boulders and cliffs looming up around me. I was a bit stunned. As I walked the canyon became even more enchanting. The walls grew taller, the moss grew wetter. At one point I saw a lyrebird! And I finally managed to not only snap a picture but grab some video too! Impressive creatures the way they tear at the ground to find their meal.
The track passed through a door into a dark cave with water underfoot. I descended a few steps until I was back in the light and my breath was taken away from me. I was standing in a little grotto with a waterfall trickling down. The only path took me behind the waterfall and it was a little magical to stand behind it .
And then, on a complete high already, it all became even prettier! I can’t describe it. The photos don’t show it. The videos don’t either. You just have to go and walk it!
I began the climb out, and was shortly overtaken by some six year olds. It was a tough climb! Where do they actually get the energy? At the top I climbed the last few hundred meters to Evans lookout (I sat down a bit on the way).
The walk carried on along the cliff top and offered views of waterfalls dropping to the base of the valley. I crossed one waterfall and you could see it just disappear as it reach the edge. Climbing up to another lookout I pass a about a dozen or more elderly people heading down. One of them say me panting and said “I’m thinking this is easy but I’ve gotta come back up yet.” To which I replied cheekily “yeah they’re two ways these things”. She chuckled. A bit later I heard someone else shout to them “it’s not worth it!” Very funny. I hope I’m still doing this at that age.
The final part of the walk was along popes glen track. The first part was steep and muddy and I loved finally being able to put my walking poles to some good use (the walk thus far was basically steps and well tended trail so nothing to make you unstable). My new north face hedgehogs also managed the wet terrain with ease and left me with zero blisters for the day. Very happy. The track soon became quite scrubby and I really wasn’t liking it until I came to a sign that said that this was an area of regeneration so all was forgiven. There was a creek running through and I Criss crossed it a few times. The ferns suddenly became quite tall and I was back out on the road again. I strolled along the road to blackheath station, kicking the autumn leaves out of the way. I had a fifty minute wait for my train so I popped into another cafe (mikes organic I think it was called). They make good coffee in blackheath!
I loved this walk! Everyone should get out and do the Grand Canyon loop as a half day walk – you just have to experience this one to understand how beautiful it is. The trip notes on the WildWalks website says 15.6km but my apps said 18km (the vertical being the difference I think). It only took me 5 and a half hours and trip notes said two hours more. I guess I’m getting fitter! A fantastic walk.