El albergue

El albergue

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blue Mountains

Day four was a Monday, so Zach headed off to work and Kali to study, leaving me and my parents to go exploring on our own. Since we were in the middle of a continent full of gorgeous countryside, we felt we had to get in on the goodness and go visit the nearby Blue Mountains for a little bit of a hike.

We sort of hit an obstacle first thing in the morning though… the strap on Mom’s adventuring shoes had broken the night before! She tried performing emergency surgery with a suture Kali had in her bag from a previous class, but no luck. Happily for her though, Kali’s athletic shoes fit her well enough, so with those shoes on loan she at least had something to trek about in.

Oh no! Not working! The needle is getting all bent!

All ready to set off, Dad took the wheel. He got the swing of driving all backwards pretty quick. Mom and I might have had to let out a “Stay left!” once or twice, but there was no one coming at those moments, so no big deal. Besides, we made it to our destination all in one piece.

The first sight that greeted us was a beautiful observation point built out over the edge of the valley rim. With wide, open spaces and plenty of benches, it was obviously designed to handle crowds of tourists even bigger than the ones currently mingling about with cameras dangling from their necks. There was even a really nice tourist shop where Mom happened to find some good hiking shoes that fit her well and were on sale. Take that, you silly broken shoes!

Off either side of the observation deck, lovely trails curved away into the trees. They were really quite nice, very well maintained, and easy to walk along. The first one we took, to the left, brought us to The Three Sisters. This rocky promontory, according to one Aboriginal legend, is three beautiful sisters who were in love with three warriors from an enemy tribe. The girls’ tribe wouldn’t let them marry the enemy, so the warriors brought all their fighting power to try and take the girls they loved by force. A holy man turned the sisters into stone during the battle to protect them, planning to revert them to their natural form once everything was over… but he died, wounded, and no one else knew the secret of changing them back. So, they have been stone ever since, tragic figures of love lost.

So sad, isn’t it? Don’t worry though, no more sad stuff from here on out. I promise!
The Three (not at all sad or lonely) Sisters

Hiking back to the observation deck and away to the right, we turned aside at every opportunity to go check out all the little lookout points. At each spot, we looked down the sheer cliffs, whose roots disappeared far below in dense forest on the valley floor. And when we looked to the sides, we saw the cliffs continuing round in unbroken line like monolithic guards keeping watch over their leafy domains.

Along the way, we also had to make frequent stops to take in the beauty of the plants and rock formations on the sides of the path. It was just so different from hiking around back in California, although it did sort of remind me of the Grand Canyon in a way.

Those aren't palm trees - they're fern trees!!!

Besides The Three Sisters, the thing we had most wanted to see was Katoomba Falls, but we never found the trail that takes you directly to it. We did get to see its soft, gurgling precursor, the Katoomba Cascades, but we only just managed to get a far-off glimpse of the thin stream of the Falls itself as it went hurtling down the cliff into the trees below.

The Cascades was so refreshingly cool.

It would have been nice to get closer... ah well, still lovely!

At that point, it was time to head back, so we trekked to the car at record speed, found our way to the highway, and made it to the apartment in time to make dinner for Zach and Kali, ending a beautiful day with a beautiful meal.

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