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The Leaving Journal

Mount Solitary

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 18 March 2015 | Views [798]

"Well, this is some nice, flat, forest walking," I muse.

"Yeah, it can't last forever," Dad responded quickly, like we'd been having the same thoughts.

We knew a mountain summit was in today's section of the 3-day, 30-kilometer hike we'd started, and the longer we cruised through shady, easy rainforest trail, the shorter - and steeper - the summit ahead of us was bound to be. Dread was encroaching.

Lizzy found a 2 night backpacking trip in the Blue Mountain Range outside of Sydney. Dad screened the trail description - an obnoxious, 3-page document with an identifying trail marker or lookout listed every few feet - and despite misgivings about the trail starting at a place called "Scenic World," we all agreed it was a good option for us.

Scenic World is just the kind of nightmare it sounds like it would be: a vain attempt at a mountain theme park. Throngs of tightly bunched tour groups mill around boardwalks between various lookouts, rail cars and cheesy animatronic mining exhibits. A group of in front of us as we desperately tried to escape the park included several women in flat, bejewelled sandals.

"When you told me we were coming to Scenic World, I don't know what I thought we'd be doing," I overheard her say to her boyfriend. "But I didn't think we'd be hiking."

After a myriad of misstarts and setbacks, we had finally weaved through the crowds and left Mountain Disney World several kilometers behind us. We had seen only a few day hikers and were eager to start the climb up Mount Solitary, as it seemed likely to live up to its name.

The trail started to gain gradually upward and a looming, rocky peak appeared in the distance. It looked rugged and really, really far away.

"Surely that's not it?" I asked, looking at Lizzy.

"Uh, I dunno..." she said, looking down at the trail description on her iPhone.

"That's the only peak near us within sight," Dad said.

"How are we going to get up those rocks?" I said, panic creeping into my voice.

"Oh, yeah," Lizzy said. "It did say something... about like, maybe a little bit of boulder scrambling?" She smiled sheepishly.

Three gruelling hours later, we arrived at the summit of Mount Solitary, drenched in sweat and groaning. We collapsed in a heap by our packs. "A little bit of boulder scrambling" meant scaling the side of a barren, vertical rock face with 40 pounds of weight on our backs.

But, sore and exhausted though we may be, we haven't seen a soul since 2 this afternoon. The sun is setting behind the dramatic bluff that surrounds this aptly named mountain range, coated in a foggy-blue sheen. As the shadows of the valleys depend and the thrum of my obnoxiously loud camp stove sings into the night, I am sure glad we did it.

Scenic World! Ride the rides! See the sights!Scenic World! Ride the rides! See the sights!
Pretty boy we saw at the beginning of the hike - look at that red belly!Pretty boy we saw at the beginning of the hike - look at that red belly!
The Three SistersThe Three Sisters


Get verticalGet vertical


Tags: backpacking, challenges, hikes, mountains, trekking


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