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The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

It Was a Golden Day

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Large tree PHOTOBOMBS!!

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finished at sunset. yep.

Roller Coaster Complete: 6.3 Miles on the AT

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Ten days ago we did 7 of the 13.3 miles between Ashby Gap and Snickers Gap on the Appalachain Trail. Turns out we did the hard part first. Yesterday, we finished off the segment, starting on Jen’s road and heading down to Route 50. Esther and Chris joined us.

The hike is in our back yard. If you know where you’re looking from Bear’s Den, you can see the monastery.

Ashby gap (on route 50) to Snickers gap (on route 7) is in our back yard

What was most striking was the difference that 10 days make in the woods. Though our hike was much warmer, there were not many leaves left!

Start on Jen’s Road

We saw some lichen. Or was that moss?

Moss

Moss and lichen

lichen

Uncle Chris

Roller Coaster complete! (shew)

We took the yellow car back to the truck.

Appalachian Trail, a patchwork quilt

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A Square of Paw Paws

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A Square of Oaks

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Crazy, Mixed-up Square

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The Tester

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The Quilters

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A masterpiece!

Seven Mile on the AT (in the backyard hike)

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Start 4.5 miles from home (less than a mile from Jen’s house). Hike seven miles. Is it a roller coaster? Yes it is.

Seven mile.

Here is the story in pictures.

Park the truck on Jen’s road.

Foundation (not the Asimov one)

Orange sprite.

Lunch spot off the trail

Up to this point, we saw 7 people (one walked by while we were eating lunch…going our way). 6 Were going the other way.

Lunch WILL be here!

We were passed by an old man with a stick. He was on his way up and then back down.

Jack and I stayed in this shelter in the rain when he was 5

The roller coaster ends at Bear’s Den. Shew!

Bear’s Den feet of the orange sprite…which are purple?!

Home field advantage (monastery from the hill).

Fin

The Hike! Don’t Forget the Hike!!!

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Humans hiking is a-ok. Specially in Nor-way.

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No Sun, Yes Murderous Troll

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Here’s looking at you!

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Yes, go UP!

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Bearable Beauty 

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Snacks, Naps and Maps

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From Up

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Downward magical, too.

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And Scary for Some…

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Because you don’t want to be It’s Dinner!

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Nearing the end. only 2 kilometers to go!

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Bye!

13.8 Miles in the Mountains of Norway in Skarvheimem

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The rockslide helped. Our original plan was to start hiking just down the road from the Skarvheimem cabin and walk 19km (11.8 miles) along the river bed. Just a few km in, a change of plans due to trail damage had us hike up over a ridge instead. This added 3.2km longwise and a whole bunch of vertical. The distance was not the issue, as you may imagine! Here is a photo documentary of the walk.

Morning view from the cabin

Ready to hike?

We started at a little restaurant/camp area where we ended up (8 hours later) having dinner. Getting started was a thing. By 10:30, we were walking.

Stopping for photo opportunities was a must. We had more cameras than people on our hike. Good news: the tripod actually got used!

 

 

The valley hike was very pretty, but in the end we were really glad we had to hike up over the ridge.

Don’t get too close to the edge!

Lunch break. We were joined by many lemmings

There was some wind at the top of the cliff.

And then it was down, down, down. Hard on the knees. The trail was so steep that in places metal cables had been installed. Those were a good thing.

Waterfalls, rock-covered trail, going up when you should be going down, and never quite getting to the water were all things. The wind was impressive when it was funneled up the valley and concentrated into tight eddies.

 

 

 

The sun peeked out occasionally with spectacular long yellow light.

 

Finally a road. The pace sped up as a taxi was summoned. We made it back in time for dinner, though walking up the three stairs to the restaurant was not easy!

This hike is among the most beautiful I have ever experienced. More is in order.

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