Sunday, 17 May 2009

May meander

I had decided that I'd give up writing about our bushwalking adventures, thinking that there was little new to photograph and write about them. Then, we tackled the first section of the Six-Foot Track, a former coaching road that begins at Katoomba and descends through the Megalong Valley to the Jenolan Caves, and I couldn't resist the scenery.

More ambitious walkers than us hike the route, which takes an average of three days. And once a year, the Six-Foot Marathon encourages serious over-achievers to run the full 45-kilometre distance, which the leading competitors manage to do in just over three hours. Our sedate group settled for the first leg only, a modest 8 kilometres.

"Leg" is an apt way to describe it, as the track begins with a very steep descent through a cleft in the mountains, where the drop down many narrow steps is long enough to jar your leading leg as your foot makes contact. Most of us admitted to trembling muscles by the time we reached level ground at the bottom. I took no photos of this section: not only was it quite dark beneath tree ferns and the sheer cliff walls enclosing us, but I needed all my focus on the track to avoid hurtling headlong down the ravine.

Once we reached level ground in the valley, the vegetation thinned out and we entered a more pastoral landscape of beautiful eucalypts - pink-trunked angophoras and silver scribbly gums.

After stopping for lunch near a mysterious sign...

...we continued through lush paddocks and more groves of gums deeper into the Megalong Valley, which has been settled for many years, mainly by horse-lovers. Ground cleared for paddocks here has allowed the remaining trees the space to grow into magnificent specimens.

Our route took us briefly along a dirt road and over a creek, which was placid and pretty on this day,

although it clearly had a different personality in rainy periods.

The last part of our trek followed trails through private property, whose owners had obligingly provided metal stiles over the barbed wire fences on their boundaries.

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