It is not often that you can expect to see snow falling within a hair's breadth of Sydney in October, but for the Silver Duke of Edinburgh group who were set to tackle a walk in the Blue Mountains it was a reality. Wednesday 15th October will be firmly etched into the minds of the group as they frolicked in the snow, some for the first time in their lives! The Great Western Highway was closed for eight hours by snow and ice, as well as the train line from Sydney to the west.
We were however in the Blue Mountains to do a bush walk. As we crawled up the highway towards Katoomba, still quite early in the morning, the rain was falling and the temperature wallowing around zero degrees Celsius. Stuck in traffic outside Leura, the decision was made to divert along the back roads to Katoomba and await for the weather to break. So started the Silver Qualifying Journey, in a cafe in the main street of the Blue Mountains capital.
Fortunately, after an hour or two the clouds began to break and the good weather that had been forecast materialized. So we lodged our walking plan with the Police Station and set off. Stopping along the way to check out the copious amounts of snow that blanketed the ridges even as late as midday.
Soon enough we had made the drive down to through the Megalong Valley to our starting point at Dunphys Camping Ground. Here we unloaded, did our final preparations, prayed and started to walk. Given we had started walking about 4 hours late, we kept up a good pace and soon were almost back on schedule. One of the big aims of this walk was to firm up our navigation skills, so we stopped every so often for Mr Pain to check our progress and question where we though we were. Soon enough we reached the clearing at Medlow Gap, where we had lunch.
After lunch we walked on looking for the path to our night location, Mobbs Swamp. Once we had found the path we left the fire trail headed off into the thick bush, following the faint path of walkers before us.
Upon reaching our night stop, we quickly made camp and got about getting dinner organised. Tired from our long day of travel and tramping it was soon time for bed.
Thursday dawned and the weather looked great for our biggest day of walking. After packing up camp, we left our packs at Mobbs Swamp and headed up a side trail to climb up to Splendor Rock. Once again we were tested on our navigation, however this time around Mr Pain was slightly off with his reckoning. As a result we headed up a very steep slope and did a little bit of rock climbing, after he decided (incorrectly) we had walked too far and not seen a secondary trail up Wild Dog Mountain. Fortunately, the group were as nimble as mountain goats and had no trouble with the slight diversion.
Soon enough we reached the top of Wild Dog Mountain and found Splendor Rock. Here we signed the walkers log, a year to the day after last year's Silver group! The view was incredible and weather amazing.
After we had climbed back down, we headed back to our overnight camp and picked up our packs. The direction of travel was now North North West along a couple of ridges to our lunch stop, Knights Deck. When we got there we were once again greeted with an incredible view, including being able to see our cars parked in the distance on a neighboring ridge.
Soon enough we finished lunch and began our clamber down the a steep ridge to the Coxs River, where we were to make camp for the night. We knew that we had almost made it when we were greeted by our nemesis for tomorrow's walk, the stinging nettle.
Camping on the river flat was great and the conversation around the camp fire was awesome. Who would have thought Covenant was so wild back in the day? Mr Wakeford certainly kept us well entertained with stories of his time at school.
In the morning we once again broke camp and kitted up for war with the nettles. Mitch Wall continued his excellent navigation and lead us ably up Breakfast Creek towards our final destination. After countless river crossings we left the valley and started following Carlon's Creek as it lead us back to the cars. Here we saw nettle after nettle, luckily everyone was pretty well prepared and no one took a lethal blow.
Once we were clear of the green sea of weeds, we stripped off our protective clothing and prepared to tackle our next challenge. Throughout the lead up and walk Mr Pain had been constantly saying the final climb out would be really hard. So we gave it a go. Perhaps it was the cooler weather, perhaps its was that we were well prepared, but even Mr Pain was surprised at how well the hill climb went. So we were finished walking, all that was left was to pack the cars and head home.
Another successful walk and all the adventurous journeying done for Silver Duke of Edinburgh for us.
Thank you to Mr Wakeford, Mr Pain and Miss Vander Straaten for accompanying us.