Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Into the Bush

My next Easter Break adventure involved bushwalking in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, a 45-minute to an hour train ride north. After my daytrip to Palm Beach and Avalon, I felt ok exploring on my own and was looking forward to the 9km hike I’d plotted out. I know my aim is to “get lost,” but I also need to live to blog about it, so a planned route and map seemed in order.

Once I got there, I was very glad to be prepared as I was because the hike definitely took me out of my comfort zone. Ku-Ring-Gai covers almost 37,000 acres, and at least in the section where I started in Berowra, there weren’t any clearly marked trails with happy arrows or park ranger booths to keep you on the right track. For the first half-hour, I wasn’t even positive I was on the path I intended to be on. Looking back, I probably should have gone with a buddy, but I read too much Kerouac this summer and going alone seemed like a good idea.

Once I reached the creek at the bottom of the trail, I felt surer of where I was going. All I had to do was follow the creek for the next two hours.

Well, even that was easier said than done. The bush was very overgrown and the path became hard to follow at points. Huge spider webs loomed overhead and it always felt like one of these guys was on my arm.

I also ran into this four-foot-long goanna, which scared me out of my pants because I nearly stepped on it without looking.

At this point my shoulders were beginning to ache because of my backpack. Sure, I could have packed lighter, but how much would I regret it if I had left behind that beach towel that could’ve served as a blanket or been fashioned into a tent in the event I got lost in the bush and needed to spend the night before a rescue party found me? Exactly. So I flipped the backpack around to my front because I figure that’s where women are meant to bear loads about that size. Why fight evolution? It helped so I wore it that way except when I saw boats on the creek and felt self-conscious. Hey, who’s that weird girl pregnant with a backpack? And did she just pull out a sandwich?

Like I said, the trail was overgrown with fern and brush. Plus, there were several fallen trees and steep rocks to cross over. I later realized this might have to do with the fact that the Berowra Trail I took was temporarily closed to the public. When I reached the intersection with the Mt. Kuring-Gai Trail, I saw the trail I had come from had been fenced off. Who knew?

After I got to the second trail, I felt much more at ease because I knew I was going the right way and was ahead of schedule. (I attribute this to the fact that my “flight” response is much keener than my “fight” and I booked it through the tall brush and cobwebs.) The Mt. Kuring-Gai Trail was steeper but had wider, more worn paths so I thought less about potential creepy-crawlies around my ankles.

I finally made it up to the top where I found another great scenic sandwich spot. Then I walked down out of the park, through a residential area to the train stop one ahead of where I got off and was home in time for dinner.

Another day, ‘well Done.

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