There comes a time in one’s life when you just stop giving a care on what the world says, especially on things superficial.
This is what happened when I turned 25. I stopped giving a damn on what others say, or think about me, how I look, what I do, and what I say.
As a result, I have become the opinionated, independent and devil may care person I am today. Unfortunately, I have also gained a few unwanted pounds after avoiding those long hours in the gym since I no longer care if I am toned and buff, and it has been a mighty struggle ever since to lose the bulge.
While being a plus-size traveler has never hindered any of my previous adventures, I must say that it has been a major factor in the activities I choose to do in any particular city or country.
This means no mountain climbing, no distance walking and nothing too strenuous. Instead, I stick to the more leisurely and brainy things to do such as museum hopping, pubcrawls, food trips, and guided architecture and landmarks sightseeing.
When I decided to come visit Australia last December, I was bent on sticking to my usual routine and for the most part, I did.
For two weeks, I explored the various museums in Sydney (The Rocks Museums, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of NSW). I checked out the major landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Botanical Gardens, Bondi and Coogee beaches.
And I explored the various gustatory delights of China Town and Market St.
But when I was presented with the chance to explore the Blue Mountains, I threw caution to the wind and decided to brave a really taxing activity I know to be very difficult for me.
On the morning of my Blue Mountain tour, the sky was pretty overcast. Halleluiah, I told myself. At least, I wouldn’t have to contend with the famous Australian heat when I finally scale up the mountain.
The two-hour drive from central station to the greater Blue Mountains Area was uneventful.Our first stop was breakfast at Leura Village where you can see lots of cafe and restaurants.
We then proceeded to Lincoln’s Rock where we stayed for 15 minutes to get an appreciation of the Jamison Valley. This lookout named after the famous mountainer Lincoln Hall features the giant slab of sandstone on the edge of the valley.
This rock is also famously called the honeymoon rock due to its popularity with couples. True enough, two sepaate couples were having their pre-nup photos during our visit.
This part of the tour is the easiest and serves as the prelude.
Wentworth Falls and Jamison Lookout
It was during this portion that I realized that the overcast morning was bad news. There was a mild dew and it was making the steps downward more difficult and dangerous. All the while, our guide with the longest legs I have seen, was speeding as he tells stories about the blue mountains discovery by the Europeans, and how eucalyptus trees gave rise to the place’s name.
I would make time and catch up during the flattened section of the mountain.
Alarm bells rang when the tour made its way even further down the mountain range to get a closer view of the Wentworth falls.
The falls is pretty but nothing spectacular.
What I found even more amazing was the view when we were traversing the national pass, a narrow, gated way built at the side of the cliff. The view was simply jaw dropping.
All my excitement evaporated when the guide announceed that we were to scale up the mountain on the way up to the Wentworth Falls picnic area where we will have our light lunch.
I struggled to keep up with my fitter and taller tourmates who effortlessly skipped large rocks and slippery roads on the way to the picnic grove.
I was falling behind father and farther and the tour guide finally noticed. He advised me to take it slower and pace myself.
After several stops and heavy breathing, I made my way to the picnic area. I was welcomed by encouraging messages and pats on the back from my tourmates.
Great Staircase Walk
I honestly thought that it would get easier after that. But to my dismay, the tour guide silently approached me and asked whether I was up for the next and most difficult part of the tour.
He wasn’t kidding. By taking the great staircase walk, I would have to descend down the mountain through a thousand and one stone steps before making my way up, passing through old rainforests.
I checked my body and heartbeat. I was breathing heavily, but ultimately, I said yes.
To say that this pass is risky and difficult may be one of the biggest understatements of the year. This pass is crazy. it’s hell.
The rocks are sharper and the steps are bigger and farther apart, which makes it diffilcult for everyone. Even the young Scandinavians and Europeans in the tour, who obviously have long legs, were having a hard time, keeping a steady rhythm. Beads of sweat covered everyone’s faces and everyone’s breathing became ragged.
I could feel my legs beginning to numb and my chest trying to explode so I took a lot of small breaks (I mean every 5 minutes) just to keep moving. I don’t want to end up stranded in that dark, wet place.
Unfortunately, those small breaks left me at the back of the pack and after two or three turns, I completely lost the tour.
My guide (thankfully) went back and cheered me on but I was really slow. He had to give up and climb back ahead to advise everyone that we are getting delayed.
The entire walk takes approximately two hours but I must have taken a lot longer, maybe 2:30.
I found my way back to the stone hut where the tour was waiting. This time, I was welcomed with applause. Some of them may have been genuine claps of appreciation, but I know that some were irritated by my very slow progress.
The Three Sisters
|View of The Three Sisters from Echo Point|
Thankfully, the last part of the tour was the easiest. We sat just on the bus and rode to Echo Point near Katoomba to see the three sisters.
The three sisters are actually three sandstone peaks overlooking the Jamison valley. They were formed through erosion thousands of years ago, in the land where the Gundungurra and Darug people used to live. Echo Point has the best view of the three sisters and the other cliffs of the valley. You can also see from here the Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary.
On our way back to Sydney, most members of the tour were asleep following the strenuous hike up and down the Blue mountain range.
I, however, was silent and pensieve. I was congratulating myself for overcoming a challenge I never thought I could take, I also had to overcome jeers from naysayers.
As soon I as arrived in my hotel room, I jumped to my bed for a much needed rest.