Friday, 3 October 2014

Rob and Cait go Glamping


Training in the Blue Mountains early 2014, I discovered Leura Forest, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, the Undercliff Pass, and a host of other goodies. As nice as the training was, I really wanted the chance to take my time and walk the section between Katoomba and Wentworth Falls. I also was hoping that I could convince the lovely Cait to join me.

In my world, this trip would involve a nice camp out. Tents, sleeping bags, suspect water, peeing in the bush. However, this is never going to happen in the real world where happy wives reside. No climbing into a sleeping bag all sweaty and smelly, pooing in a hole, and scary night noises. My girl needs a warm shower, clean clothes and clean sheets, and a glass (or three) of wine and fine dining after a walk. So after a nice bit of net surfing booked us a “camp site” at the Waldorf in Leura, the glamping adventure was all systems go.

Like all good adventures, not all goes to plan. The trip up was painfully slow, so we arrived at the Conservation Hut close to 10.30, not the 9.00 start I had hoped for. This meant we would be out in the hottest part of the day – and the lovely Cait isn't the biggest fan of the heat.

Parked the car, called for a taxi. Taxi arrived, and “Rocket Man” drove like lightning the Echo Point. I think he drove fast enough to go back in time, so maybe we made up some of what we had lost. We screeched to a halt at Echo Point, and off we set.

Being a Monday, it was very quiet. We went down the Giant Staircase, and Cait was introduced to the beauty of Leura Forest. A magical place. 

 We dilly dallied around eating and taking photos. Then it was time to tackle the stairs up to Leura Cascades. These are a challenge to all. After my first training run along this section I could barely walk for a week. I had warned Cait, but I think the reality was more than she had imagined. However, she stuck to the task and did her personal trainer proud.

As we went up, down, sideways on our merry journey, Cait made all the same “ooh” “aah” noises I had made the first time along here (some were in awe, some were because of the climbing). Every turn brings something new. Waterfalls, the Amphitheatre, tracks under cliffs, look outs and views (as well as more stairs).  Of course there are also the Bridal Veil Falls.

oh goody !  more stairs !

The Amphitheatre

Bridal Veil Falls

yep. more stairs
Bridal Veil Falls lookout
We eventually hit Sublime Point Rd and checked out the lovely houses. It was along here that the heat kicked in and my lovely petal began to wilt. The climb up from Lillian's Bridge was not fun for her. She later confessed to looking at my back and thinking “I hate him” as well as visualising horrible ways I could die. All those cliffs I could mysteriously fall from.  "Officer, I told him not to go so close to the edge..." Eventually though, we reached the Conservation Hut after about 14km of ups and downs. The power of a double scoop of ice cream magically turned her toad of a husband back into a Prince. My charms were even more apparent when our rooms turned out to be quite nice. If only the pool had been warm enough for a swim – then I would have started to look like Ryan Gosling (its my blog – I can exaggerate as much as I like). A quick scoot into Katoomba to do some shopping, including a trip to “A Bra Ca Da Bras” for a bra fitting with the lovely Gina (for Cait, not me).

After a beer at the pub I was definitely back in the good books.  Being tired, we nearly gave in and had left over crackers and soy snacks for dinner in our room, but hauled our butts to a local cheap and cheery Thai restaurant where we had a lovely meal and witnessed the rudest children in history.

The next day we enjoyed a big breakfast and a turn around the lovely gardens at The Waldorf. Then we “broke camp” and returned to the Conservation Hut to complete our walk. A nice stroll along the Shortcut Track to Wentworth Falls warmed our stiff legs a little. Yesterday had left us both a bit achy from all those steps. The Undercliff Pass was fun, and even the vertically challenged Cait had to duck down. I had been taking it easier on her today, but when she started doing tricep dips on the steps I thought maybe I should have planned a harder day.  Then it was down the stairs to under the falls, and onto the National Pass.
Undercliff Pass
Undercliff Pass

Undercliff Pass
so fit she even has time to do some dips

A liitle blue tongue we met along the way
Undercliff Pass

Wentworth Falls

the stairs from Wentworth Falls down to the National Pass.  See the teeny tiny people.

I had only walked the National Pass the first time myself the week before, and was still in awe of the amount of work it must have taken to construct it in the early 1900's. Blokes hanging off rock walls, chipping away with big heavy tools with a bit of rope tied around their waist. Unbelievable. 

Look Rob, it says "many steep steps".  Don't make me want to kill you again.

looking up to Wentworth Falls

Cait and I wandered along playing silly buggers. She was even inspired by the magnificent acting of Sylvester Stallone in "Cliffhanger" (in his memorable role of "Gabe") to try some rock climbing.  Then, inspired by my race photos from TNF100 in May, we took some "race photos" for Cait ( and I said "race", not "racey" so don't get your hopes up boys). It was still early and cool, as well as being a much cooler day than yesterday. We eventually reached the end of the pass, where it meets the Valley of the Waters. Cait was stunned to discover that we were walking a piece of track that I had never walked before. I was a bit nervous, as I had promised it shouldn't be too hard, but wasn't really sure. It was steep, but not too far, and there were stairs, but not too many.
Go Cait Go !  Climb that huge rock wall.

Valley of the Waters and the lovely Cait.  Two of natures true beauties.
The beauty of the Valley of the Waters and some idiot

Upon reaching Empress Falls, we realised where all the yelling had been mysteriously coming from yesterday. I had suspected it was possibly canyoners yesterday (they come down Empress Falls), but a group was jumping into the pool below the falls, and I am sure it was freezing and would make anyone yell. Here is hoping the fun police don't stop this sort of reckless behaviour. They were having a great time in the great outdoors.

We hit the last section below the Conservation Hut and crazy lady started running to the top. Yesterday she wanted to arrange my death, today she is racing me to the top. We got to the car, cooled off, said good bye to our Glamping adventure, and headed into Leura for a spot of dress shopping to make the trip perfect.

Almost the last of the stairs. I promise.  Well maybe a few more. But not too many.  This time I really mean it.
Looking way too chipper methinks.  Obviously what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

And yes, she bought several dresses.  It may be so much cheaper walking alone, but not nearly as much fun.  Time to start saving for the next adventure I guess.

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