On day nine of our tour we woke up, as we were in the habit of doing every day, but this time… something was different. This time… we were going to KINGS CANYON!
Today was going to be another tough hike – similar to the hike from the second day that almost claimed my life. Gus and Christine didn’t come along on this hike, as both were too sick to reasonably do it. We were on our own for this one! It was a nice 6 km hike, and the first part of the climb was definitely the hardest. It was straight uphill for about half a kilometer. It certainly had my heart pumping! We were fortunate enough that there were stone steps for most of it.
When we got to the top the views were once again beautiful. We gazed out onto the horizon as we caught our breath. This was still only about 1/10 of the entire hike for the day!
The entire hike today was fascinating. It was almost like looking back into the past. The rocks at Kings Canyon were completely different than they were at both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Actually, I hadn’t seen anything like them in all that I had seen in Australia.
I wonder if this is what the Grand Canyon looks like? I do want to go there one day soon as well. Is anyone up for a road trip?
As we walked, we would pass by ancient sand dunes and ripples in the rock which marked where a sea once lay:
Another cool area was called ‘Lilliput’, named after the little people in the Gulliver’s Travels stories. These rocks are like miniature versions of huge rocks we were seeing. I suppose that to insects these would still be the huge rocks. In retrospect I should have had my hand here to give you an idea of the small size of these little rocks:
I do have a funny story about this section of the hike. By the time I got to this area (I was one of the last people to get there because I like to take my time! Why rush and miss out on all the sights?) I saw that everyone was standing over it taking pictures. Initially I figured that they just really liked the idea that this area was named after Gulliver’s Travels – but then I realized what they were really taking pictures of:
Can you see him? It is amazing how close in color to the rocks!
Anyway, back to the hike! Shortly after the lizard excitement we had another small disaster. Sarah D sprained her ankle on one of the rocks. We couldn’t turn back because it was dangerous to hike on the canyon in the opposite direction. Luckily, Sandra had a first aid kit along with her, so we wrapped up Sarah’s ankle nice and tight, and she thought she would be fine to hobble along slowly the rest of the way. We had already tackled the hardest part, so we figured that we’d see how she did. If worst came to worse, we could always dial 000 on our mobile phone, which is Australia’s version of 911. On we went!
About 3/4 of the way through the hike, we took a short detour when we saw a sign about a section of the canyon called “The Garden of Eden”. According to the sign, the Garden of Eden had abundant bird life, trees, and even a place to swim. Sarah, Sandra, and Pat decided to keep moving ahead and skip that part because of the ankle issue. The rest of us really wanted to see it so we parted ways and promised to catch up.
It was just as beautiful as was promised:
and the swimming was terrific!
While we having fun splashing around we heard a call from above. Sandra, Pat, and Sarah were looking down at us from a Garden of Eden lookout. They took a few pictures of us swimming from above, and I am hoping to have the pictures sent to me as soon as Sarah can upload them to a computer!
We took our time in the pool, it really was like a Garden of Eden, before we reluctantly got out of the pool and continued on our hike. The rocks got more and more interesting as we went along. The stripes on this one are incredible! Are any of you amateur geologists able to explain them to me?
Here is a close up of the stripes:
There was one point in the hike where we were able to (carefully) look down into the canyon from the edge. My pants are wet because we just went swimming and I didn’t change out of my swimsuit! Don’t start making comments!
Here is some scenery from the end of our hike. I love all the colors that you manage to squeeze into just one photo in Australia:
On our way down I managed to fall again. It was just a little tumble this time. I think I am realizing that I have a problem with weak ankles because whenever I go downhill in steep areas my ankles just seem to give out. It has happened quite a bit on my previous hikes as well. I should probably do some ankle strengthening exercises before attempting any more hikes!
When we got back to the tour bus we saw that Christine and Gus had been very busy while we were gone! Christine cleaned out the back of the car. It had gotten a bit messy in these nine days and Gus got a bit (a lot) peeved over it. While she was doing that, Gus had unrolled our swags and sleeping bags to dry them out. Tonight, we’d be dry while we slept!
For lunch we had fajitas (I’m noticing a Mexican theme in our meals) at a little picnic area which was full of Gallahs. I just love these birds!
And now here is some big news. At the store near the picnic area I found this wonderful new drink. It was like espresso in a can, with milk. And it was cold. I absolutely adored it! I never before liked any kind of iced coffee, but this may have changed my mind. Also, it was during this lunch break that I finally (quickly) saw a dingo. It was pretty much in and out of my vision in a flash, but I was happy that I finally saw one!
After lunch, we hit the road for the long drive to our last campsite. It was a beautiful day for a drive!
We saw a lot of wildlife on this drive. Most notable were the wild horses and wild camels. Yes, you heard me right, CAMELS! They are another introduced species in Australia. When the Afghan workers brought them over to help them build the Afghan railway, they just set them free when they were finished. No one expected them to adapt so well to the Australian wilderness – but now this is the one place in the world where these camels are still found in the wild. I didn’t get any good pictures of them because they were too far away, but later I’ll have camel pictures, I promise. That is a foreshadowing of what is to come!
On this drive, we passed through some areas areas on the road that were dangerous to drive too fast. To warn unsuspecting and speeding drivers, those spots had this warning painted to the sides of old metal barrels:
It says “Lift um foot”. This is meant as a note to the Aboriginal drivers from the Aboriginal drivers telling them to take their foot off the gas. And after the dangerous part was over:
“puttum back down”. It’s effective!
Here is another fun sight to see on a desert road. I bet you didn’t know that tires grew on trees!
Here is a nice picture of the 4WD vehicle and the trailer at our last stop before we hit camp:
And me, singing about the hills being alive:
Our camp this night was at the West Macdonald Ranges in the Redbank Gorge. We had pasta and chili for dinner, and we all sat together around the fire and reminisced about what we enjoyed most on our trip. We were all a little sad knowing this was the last night for us. We chatted and joked around with each other late into the night.
Now, I don’t think I mentioned this before but the Canadian guy on our trip (Dave) used the “That’s what SHE said” joke at every opportunity he had throughout the entire trip. I’m sad to say that now this terrible joke will likely be spread throughout Australia and Sweden and probably Germany and England all because of one Canadian man. Tsk.
It was also on this night that Sandra taught me how to yodel! Well, kind of. I was able to repeat her song line by line, but I don’t remember it now. That is another thing I’ll have to do when I get back… learn to yodel a song.
We also had one more pleasant surprise before we went to bed: chocolate fondue! This was the best chocolate covered fruit I have ever had! It was melted Swiss chocolate, which I’m pretty sure is known for being the best chocolate. We all went to bed with smiles on our lips and chocolate on our faces.
This night, the stars were AMAZING. The moon had started rising later in the evening, so we had a good hour to look up at billions and billions of stars…