Hiking the six-day Warrumbungle Summits trip

Hiking the six-day Warrumbungle Summits trip

Whatever you do, don’t cease at Whitegum lookout in your approach in to the Warrumbungle National Park to participate in World Expeditions’ six-day Warrumbungle Summits trip.

The views of Mount Exmouth, Bluff Mountain, Lugh’s Throne and the relaxation are spectacular, however at the lookout, you actually wish to be considering a smug “I climbed all those” quite than a despairing “Oh no, I’ve got to climb all those?”

Brian, a retired dentist from Sydney, did simply that and, skilled hiker that he’s, thought “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here”.

He hadn’t, after all, as a result of right here we’re at Whitegum lookout, mission completed and snacking on chilly meats and cheese and toasting ourselves with the bottle of Scotch he introduced alongside for the event.

We’re not alone. There are eight of us on the trip ranging in age from 63-72, plus our two guides, Rachael Corlett and Damon (Damo) Angelopulo. We’re joyful, greater than a bit of pleased with ourselves and … exhausted.

Over the previous 4 days we have now walked, slid, trudged, climbed, stumbled, clambered and scrambled as much as the summits of Belougery Split Rock, Lugh’s Throne, Febar Tor, Breadknife Gap, Bluff Mountain and, final however not least, Mount Exmouth, the highest peak in the park at 1206 metres.

We have walked for even to eight hours every day – principally, it appeared at the time, upwards – and collapsed into our tents no later than 9pm, drained, joyful, and supremely well-fed due to Rachael and Damo, whose abilities in the camp kitchen can’t be over-estimated.

One different visitor and I select to take the possibility of transferring in with the World Expeditions bus from Katoomba whereas the others are driving in from locations resembling Grafton and Queensland.

Our website at Camp Blackman, deep in the park, is just arrange. There are two-person tents (furnished with a camp mattress, pillow and heat blanket), a circle of camp chairs round a firepit, a cooking station, a desk awash with drink choices (tea, espresso, cordial and so forth), and a separate station the place we wash our personal plates and cutlery.

In the late afternoon of the first day we take a stroll alongside the Wambelong Nature Track, a simple circuit from the camp and again. It’s a warm-up stroll by way of a delicate gorge and up over a hillside with views again over the camp and the surrounding valley.

Before dinner that evening, sitting round the campfire whereas kangaroos graze round us, cockatoos carouse in the bushes and the setting solar paints the lip of the close by escarpment liquid gold, Damo and Rachael give us a briefing on the coming days and the way the camp works.

We are all in mattress by 8pm.

The subsequent day dawns chilly and clear and vivid and I’m grateful for the thermal T-shirt and long-johns I introduced alongside. I used to be particularly grateful after I bought up at 2am and gawped at the galaxy of stars overhead.

Six years in the past the International Dark-Sky Association declared this to be Australia’s first and solely Dark Sky Park – a spot the place the lack of sunshine air pollution makes it good for night-time stargazing.

And you possibly can – fairly actually – see why. I’ve camped on this space a number of instances over the years and that bejewelled evening sky with its milky clouds of stars – like an infinite variety of tiny diamonds scattered on a mattress of the blackest velvet – by no means will get previous.

As we ease into the day – porridge, left-over apple crumble from the evening earlier than, cereals, plunger espresso and extra kinds of teabags than I’ve ever seen gathered in a single place – I discover a gaggle of superbly colored birds participating in dogfights close by.

They seem like somebody has ripped the head off a crimson rosella and shoved it onto a budgie’s physique. Eastern Rosellas, says Damo, who I’m starting to suspect is part-eagle.

After breakfast, our packs loaded up with water (you have to 2-3 litres or extra, belief me), power drinks, path snacks and fruit, we clamber into the bus to move to the begin of in the present day’s stroll to the high of Belougery Split Rock.

Ninety thigh-punishing minutes later we attain the high to find that we’re not truly at the high. That distinction lies close by however is a vertiginous climb greatest achieved with out packs as a result of it entails pulling oneself up by occasional steel railings pushed into virtually vertical bedrock.

It’s laborious yakka however the ensuing view from the summit is value it. Little do we all know that that is the least of it. Over the coming days the walks will get tougher however the views will get commensurately extra spectacular.

On the approach again down we cease at a clearing the place a small creek positively calls for we dip our ft in it and the place Rachael and Damo put together a serve-yourself lunchtime feast. The clearing is awash now with discarded boots, jackets and different mountain climbing paraphernalia.

Day three’s itinerary — in what feels like a rundown of areas from the Game of Thrones TV collection — consists of Febar Tor, Breadknife Gap, Balor’s Hut and Lugh’s Throne.

The day begins overcast and we head to the path head at Pincham automotive park below louring skies. Our first cease is Febar Tor (714 metres), which we attain by way of a loop off the major observe. At the summit, once we cease for snacks and a well-earned breather, the tops of a lot of the park’s crags are obscured by pale gray, low-lying clouds, like locations that dinosaurs may dwell.

The finish of the loop drops us again on the major paved observe, which itself ends at the base of a pointy staircase resulting in the pointy finish of the Breadknife and the stony, rugged path as much as Lugh’s Throne, a vantage level which appears to be like majestically again down from whence we have come.

By the time we get there the early morning mist and clouds have burned away to disclose blue skies, and we lunch whereas admiring the vista and gulping at the nice blunt mass of Bluff Mountain. It appears laborious to imagine we’re mountain climbing up that tomorrow. Mount Exmouth, being additional off, appears much less of a problem.

The subsequent day, on the high of Bluff, we glance again down on Lugh’s Throne – a panorama which places issues into perspective, and underlines what we have already achieved. Breadknife? Pah! More like a Penknife, says somebody cockily (me).

It’s the identical once we attain the high of Mount Exmouth a day later – a 17-kilometre spherical trip, first on hearth trails after which up the mountain. Despite the earlier days’ exertions – or maybe due to them – we’re all pumped up for this, the summit of summits.

It’s right here we meet our first snake (an harmless younger factor that appears extra like an enormous worm), some alarming trying yellow-backed ants, a number of small lizards, a number of Lewin’s honeyeaters, feral goats, and a few hovering eagles.

One spotlight is a piece of the path which snakes by way of an enormous grass tree (Xanthorrhoea Australis) forest. As widespread as they’re in Australia, it is the first time any of us have seen fairly so a lot of them in a single place, cascading down the slopes of their hundreds. It’s fairly a sight.

The remaining stretch to the summit is not straightforward however the 360-degree view is value each stumble and each aching muscle. Look again and down and there is Bluff Mountain and the relaxation – miniatures of themselves – and out the different approach there’s the nice flat sprawl of the Western Plains leaking out to the horizon.

It’s enormous, expansive, wonderful. Up right here the place all the pieces else is down, it seems like we’re on high of the world. It hasn’t been straightforward but it surely has been a problem – and one which we have met head on and tackled.

Now, how will we get down from right here?

THE DETAILS

HIKE

World Expeditions’ six-day Warrumbungle Summits trip prices from $2495 per individual and runs from April to October. The remaining day consists of a morning drive to Pilliga National Park and the Sandstone Caves strolling observe. The worth consists of two skilled wilderness guides, 5 nights tenting, 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners, all drinks (no alcohol), group tenting tools and elective switch from Katoomba to the campsite. The final trip this yr begins on October 1. See worldexpeditions.com/Australia

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Keith Austin was a visitor of World Expeditions.



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