A few days before flying to Australia, a friend called me and said that we had to meet because she had a close friend who used to live in the Sydney area and she could give me a lot of useful tips. I agreed with no second thought so when we met she started talking about the place starting from the words… “Blue Mountains”. My jaws dropped. I can only remember that she told me that Blue Mountains is an ancient forest with eucalyptus trees that when seen from a distant has sometimes a distinct blue tint. It is impossible for me to recollect anything from our conversation beyond this point; my mind was fixated to this nature wonder.
I realised that when I arrived in Australia. I was so stuck with the opportunity to visit and hike at such a place that I completely ignored my notes with info about the place. The second note for example was that Australia has opposite seasons from our own and the fact that it was June meant that it would be the start of the winter there. I only brought hiking boots with me. Totally missed the winter memo. Ok this was easily fixed by shopping.
But then, my friend Eleni who I was visiting in Australia started shouting at me… You better be careful! Going there alone… stay on the trail and dont drift! People are getting lost all the time and they never find them again! Be careful! While I was laughing, some anxiety was building up. When I met Matt’s father who was far far older than me and he was still going strong in the mountains, I knew I would not back away. He even printed a map and gave it to me. I had all I needed.
I opened my computer to find a hostel to book in the mountains. Using Matt’s father suggestions I planned a two day hike to go to two different areas. I pressed the “book now” button and then I saw the facebook tab in my browser flashing indicating that someone was sending me a message. I opened it and it was a friend from back home sending me this link… 34 reasons why I am terrified of Australia. What’s wrong with you people????
I boarded the train from Sydney towards Katoomba. This was going to be my starting point. The train ride was less than an hour if I remember correctly. Wikipedia mentioned that Blue Mountains was a UNESCO World Heritage site and I was kinda amazed that such a place was so close to the city. But I could not yet realise what I was going to witness. Intentionally, before getting there, I hadn’t seen any photos from the mountains besides the landmark “Three Sisters” rocks. This is where my hike started.
It was nothing I had ever seen before. I had never been to a rainforest in my life and it was an amazing experience. The first trail was the Giant Stairway taking me from up the mountain down to the valley and then again back to the same point. After almost four and a half hours my legs were giving me some complaints from all the stairs but I was so happy that I could start walking again without reconsidering it. As soon as I arrived in the village, I sat for a coffee in the afternoon sun and I recall that I had a stupid smile in my face. I even ordered a croissant but I was feeling so happy that I couldn’t eat (whaaaaaaaaaat???????)! Yes, strange things do happen from time to time. I reached at my notes and I wrote I am fascinated.
Next morning I was so anxious to go to the second trail, that I couldnt eat again. I stuffed my mouth with an apple and gave all the food I had bought for breakfast to some people in the hostel and left in a hurry. I took the train for Wentworth Falls and headed to the Darwin path. Without knowing why, I was feeling that there were a lot more to see. And I was not wrong.
The moment the trail took a turn and I realised that I was standing above the clouds with a huge valley beneath my feet, I can only describe it as one of the best experiences I have ever lived. Getting down the trail towards the valley, the rainforest had a life and a climate of its own. I had entered a different world.
A magical one.
Blue Mountains, Australia, 2014.