October 8, 2017

Hi Ya

Usually on the weekends, I never sleep in super late, but I usually tend to sleep in a bit later than I do on normal week days. However, that’s not at all how it has been during my time here in Australia. I actually look forward to “sleeping in” on week days until 7am, because I usually get up at 6am or earlier for my weekend adventures. This morning started no different. I was up at a quarter to six and at the bus stop before 7am ready for another bush walking adventure.

I got a ride from the secretary of the club today, who was also today’s hike leader. There were only four of us who hiked, since this is actually the off weekend for the scheduled bi-weekly hikes. I am glad that this hike got planed impromptu, because the more adventures that I can fit into my time here, the better.

We drove about an hour back up to Paluma, where I was a couple of weeks ago exploring Crystal Creek. Today, we were headed on a hike known in the bush walking club as Triple Falls. The track was created by one of the bush walking members himself.

We began hiking around 8am. The track began off the side of a road and immediately lead us down a steep slope. Down, down, down we went. We started off at an elevation of 877 meters (2,878 feet). Afer hiking for about an hour and a half, we came to the first water fall of the day where we stopped to enjoy morning tea. For me, morning tea consisted of peperoni sticks that my parents lovingly sent me in a care package last week and peanut butter. I forgot to bring a knife to scrape the peanut butter from the bottom of the jar, but I found a stick that did the trick. This water fall was fairly tall, and super skinny. PhotoGrid_1508039062184After enjoying our tea and giving this fall a mini photo shoot, we continued down the path. Down, down, down again. Some of the spots were so steep that a rope had to be used. We were now heading down to follow a stream for a while, so the good news was that we were headed towards relatively flat ground. As we headed down, we came to a couple more water falls with pretty water pools at their bases. PhotoGrid_1508039152610When we arrived at the lunch spot, we were trekking ahead of schedule as it was before noon. That meant we all had plenty of time for a swim in the lagoon. This really wide spot in the stream was totally flat and reflected the vines and palm trees growing over head. It was a bit cold, but only as I first got in. Once I was all the way in, I swam along the length of the lagoon which was quite far. As I was swimming along, well, dog-paddling along actually, I did something that only Rachel could do. I tripped over a log and face planted into the water. Yes, I know, I was already in the water, and yet it still happened. It turns out that there was a long log in the water that I didn’t see and it knocked me over right at the knees. Thankfully, there wasn’t far to fall and the splash to the face just helped me cool off that much more.PhotoGrid_1508039306906After swimming back the other way, I scrambled to shore to drip-dry as we chatted and had lunch. This was the lowest elevation point of the day’s hike, and marked roughly half-way. We had descended 498 meters (1,634 feet) and had that much to gain on the way back up and out. Around 12:30 we stepped off. The good thing about this trek was that at least it is a different path going back, and we still had the best water falls of the day coming up ahead! Along the path, we came across a Red-Bellied Black. This is a venomous snake native to Australia. Even though it is not the most venomous snake around the bush here, it bites more humans than most snakes due to it being encountered more often; thereby making it one of the most dangerous AU snakes. We stopped a few paces away to admire it and not long after it slithered away so we passed by unscathed. PhotoGrid_1508039531868Although the general route of the track was upwards, we still had some downhill sections. While these were nice in the moment because they let me catch my breath and blot the sweat dripping off my face, they also made me feel like we lost all of the ground we had gained. However, once we made it to this marker directing us towards more water falls, it was all about to become worth it. We descended down a steep slope with the help of a rope one more time. PhotoGrid_1508039385612As I looked around at the bottom, it looked like a Jurassic Park movie scene. There was a large, gorgeous pool, perfectly flat, reflecting a fairytale water fall created with slabs of large stone. Vines grew down the left side of the cascade, adding that jungle-feel to the whole scene. After taking some time to rehydrate and admire the view, we made our way around the edge of the pool and up the rocks above the falls. Here, we found another cascading waterfall. And then we climbed above that one to yet another beautiful fall. So, by this point we had seen way more than three water falls, which means that calling this hike Triple Falls is a total understatement. PhotoGrid_1508039780767As we climbed again above these falls, we found the most impressive waterfall of the day. Despite having a very small amount of water flowing, it was its unique form and location that made it truly stunning. This water fall seemed to have three tiers, all made up of layers of rock slabs. The two tree trunks leaning against it made me wonder if extremely high water flows washed them from upstream to where they are currently perched, or if they fell nearby and have been resting in this place ever since. PhotoGrid_1508039863343After we had all taken in the beauty of these falls with both our cameras and our own eyes, we skirted our way back down and around the pools to the trail. After we made it up the steep slope with the help of the rope, we were headed back up, up, up. I was most motivated at this time by the thought that each step brought me closer to a tasty ice-cream from Frosty Mango. Finally, we popped out onto a true walking track that many visitors use while exploring the Paluma rainforest. Then, it was just a short walk to the road and back to the cars. Once we arrived at Frosty Mango, I enjoyed an ice-cream cone with chocolate gelato.

In total today, we walked 996 meters (3,268 feet) of elevation change, half going down and half coming back up. Our total hike distance was over 16km (10 miles), and I could feel every step of it. But, I would do it all again even more eager the next time. I totally lost count of exactly how many falls we passed, but what I haven’t lost count of is all of the incredible blessings I have experienced during my grand Australian adventure. I am so thankful to be able to share these experiences with you. Thank you for reading along and experiencing AU through my four-eyed view.