Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mt Warning

As you know, we took a trip to Mt Warning. Personally, I never fully entertained the thought of actually CLIMBING Mt Warning, because of all the gnarly 'strenous' advice you are given and also, well, it must be called Mt Warning for a reason, right? Plus, I am hardly in tip-top mountain-climbing, bushwalking shape. I am designed to live as close to sea level as possible, possibly underground: very good at floating. Gravity is my friend. As a rule, up and me don't mix. So the plan was that I would suss out the terrain: see whether this was a mountain for me, and if not, I could easily read my book and wait at ground level while Porkface did his mountainous thing. We had heard, also, that quite a few people only make it halfway up before piking. I feel there's no shame in piking, in these circumstances.
When we saw the start of the trail, it looked so lovely. Lush rainforest ferns, birds trilling overhead, mossy stones and soft sandy stairs, with nice little handrails to help you along. How lovely, I thought. Up we go, then. 400 steps later, and quite a lot of rest pauses, I was over it. But I plugged on. If you could distract yourself from the screaming of your muscles, it was an incredibly beautiful walk. The first couple of hours are mostly spent in the shade of the canopy, and you cross over the paths of waterfalls as you go. Brush turkeys peacefully scrape their mounds nearby as you puff past. Onwards and ever upwards, crossing and recrossing your path as you scale the mountain, like a string of fairy lights up a Christmas tree.
Of course, by the time I got to the helpful little sign that points out "you are now half way!" I was ready to uproot the sign and smoosh something with it. It had taken me nearly two hours to get halfway up: because of all the resting, of course. But I am nothing if not stubborn as a mule, so on we went. I was hardly going to make it halfway and then quit.

At this point Porkface decided to abandon my snail's pace and "run up", as he put it. I passed some ladies coming down about half an hour later and they said they'd seen him flash past, disappearing into the distant mist. Very well then.
It was midday in winter, but already my breath was misting up in front of me. The total height of the climb is over 1000 metres above sea level, and often when you get to the top, there's no view, as you are completely enveloped in cloud. I can't imagine what it would be like climbing in summer, when the rainforest is humid and sticky, but this was suprisingly cold, considering how much of a workout I was getting.
I took photos as I went: you can see the view changing from rainforest to mountain to cloud to low-flying-aircraft.
The last 50 metres or so is a rock scramble, which I've learnt is mountain code for "give up now". This was where we saw the children who were climbing begin to lose it. Tears galore. I lost it myself at one point too, but that was before, when I fell over on the rocks and whacked my elbow and I was cranky and tired. The rock scramble is lots of craggy jagged rocks at a steep angle, with a big chain welded in to help you drag yourself up. It's like abseiling in reverse, and a lot more painful. Suffice it to say that I did eventually make it to the top of that cursed mountain, and limped all the way down, slipping and swearing under my breath, dreaming of hot spas, fluffy white robes and steaming tea. Total round trip time: six hours.
Read another account of the climb here.
It's a week later, and me hammies are still complaining about it, and still the right calf muscle is not totally healed. Guess I should have done stretching afterwards. The good part is that I feel pretty capable. If I can get up Mt Warning, I can probably do something else as well. Next stop, Everest.

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a funny story.....funny girl.