Inspiration Point

Currently reading: Levison Wood – Walking the Himalayas | Cristina Garcia – The Lady Matador’s Hotel

We’ve had some fantastic summer storms these past few weeks. I took a drive to Cahills Lookout on Cliff Drive in Katoomba one afternoon to enjoy the massing of metallic blue clouds and the ever-changing display of light and shadow…

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Looking out along Narrowneck Plateau from Cahills Lookout. In the middle foreground to the left of the shot you can see Boars Head, a standing rock akin to the Three Sisters, shaped something like a knight piece in chess. Directly behind Boars Head (in the dip), you can see the slight rise to Ruined Castle in the saddle between Narrowneck and Mt Solitary.

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Looking west towards Megalong Valley from Cahills Lookout with the storm clouds closing in…

My work flew me down to Tassie and put me up at Pepper’s Seaport last week (it’s a pretty good gig), making this bed #320 in the “Beds I’ve Slept In” series.

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Supreme comfort. I used ALL the pillows…

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My lounge / dining area

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This suite was actually bigger than my flat back in the mountains…

Back home again, I’ve been filling in the spaces on my Jamison Valley walking map, focusing this week on the space between the Conservation Hut and the Fairmont Resort:

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The grey dotted line connecting the Vera Falls walking track and the Inspiration Point walking track (shown here in the top right hand corner of the shot), is Roberts Pass, which forms half of the Mystery track, linking Wentworth Pass with the Federal Pass along the valley floor. Roberts Pass is no longer maintained, but is still included in guidebooks and on some maps of the area, which indicates that it remains a somewhat established trail. I have now located the entry / exit point at each end (both Wentworth Falls and Leura) so will attempt the trail this summer with friends, though perhaps when the weather cools. It’s been over 30 degrees every day (bar one) this week and it looks like we are in store for more of the same next week. I hiked to Vera Falls in 40 degree heat about two years ago, and although I found one of the most beautiful waterholes I have ever seen (and had it all to myself, after a bit of rock-scrambling down Jamison Creek), by the time I made it back up to the ridge line from the valley floor, I’d drunk about four litres of water and was still in danger of dehydration (having given one litre away to under-prepared visiting hikers who were trying to do one of the passes with a Mt Franklin bottle between them). Once I have walked Robert’s Pass, I just need to find the entry / exit points for the Lindeman Track, then walk the Sublime Point fire trail, which links Federal Pass with Kedumba Pass, and I’ll have circumnavigated the entire valley both at ridge level and along the valley floor.

I have found a great website with solid track notes for both Roberts and Lindeman Passes here.

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View from the top of the 14th hole on the Fairmont Resort Golf Course

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The fourteenth hole fairway

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Well maintained boardwalk in close proximity to the resort grounds

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Sunset around 8pm from the Wennie Falls picnic area

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Wentworth Falls panorama. King’s Tableland Plateau (to left of shot) and Narrowneck Plateau (over which the sun is setting) frame the Jamison Valley, which is my current realm of exploration, with Mt Solitary to the south and the villages of Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba to the north

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At first glance I thought this girl with one leg tucked under the other and a book in her lap, next to the pony stables on the resort grounds, was a child after my own heart but closer inspection of the statue’s eyes gave off creepy Doctor Who “Blink” episode vibes…

 

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Turn off to Inspiration Point walking track, including Moya Point, Gladstone Lookout, and the Leura point of entry for Roberts Pass

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View from Moya Point

Books Completed: Daniel Woodrell – Winter’s Bone | Helen Garner – The First Stone | Sonia Overall – The Art of Walking | Sarah Knight – The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck | Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

I picked up the last two books from the airport bookstore enroute to Tassie for work. While the authors make a couple of good points, there is nothing here that the average reader hasn’t already figured out for his or herself. My overall impression is that they would have been more effective as chapbooks, or pamphlets or even simple manifestos (i.e. all the useful information could really have been compressed into one page). But then, there’s more money to be made from the 200 page version than the one page version, isn’t there? Hats off to them, I guess, for having the business sense to cash in on the branding established by those who’ve come before them… But ultimately, if you’re the sort of person who picks up a book with this kind of title, you’re likely already doing the things that are being recommended here. Great idea, but overuse of the catch-phrase soon becomes irritating. Fucks given about these books? Zero. I guess their philosophy does work!

Sonia Overall’s The Art of Walking, on the other hand, does not labour the point. Her collection of poetry is a 33 page chapbook (see, she’s got the right idea), and while sharing a title theme with several others already on my shelf (i.e. Merlin Coverley’s The Art of Wandering, David Evans’ The Art of Walking, Edwin Valentine Mitchell (Ed’s) collection The Joys of Walking, Adam Ford’s The Art of Mindful Walking, and Geoff Nicholson’s The Lost Art of Walking, to name a few), it is as valuable a contribution to my collection as any of the 92 other books (I just counted) on the subject of walking that currently populate my shelf (not to mention the ones still in storage)… Here is the final poem from the collection:

mappa mundi

Begin wherever the arrow fall

you may need chalk to mark perimeters
where land and sea meet

borders are not barriers to progress

but stepping on cracks is crossing continents
(they do things differently there)

crossroads are perfect places to loiter
and bargain for wares, souls or melodies

but beware deep woods, wolves, witches in trees
ditches where bodies may roll, bandits, brothers who
prove false,
lovers likewise, and be sure never to take the

left hand fork

skirt about the hems of lakes
avoid tipping toes in rivers
never board a boat with blackened sails
block your ears when the singing begins

but walk: walk until you meet a man
who asks questions of your oars
your eyes
or your intentions

and stop there.

Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone is one of the standouts for me this year. His novel is brutally beautiful, reminiscent of McCarthy’s southern gothic at its best. Woodrell manages to blend the harsh reality of living hand-to-mouth with the rites of passage inherent in the timeless bonds of ancient Ozark lineage, like McCarthy with his rendering of Appalachian mountains life, in which he combines cinematographic attention to detail with archetypal scopic distance. The mythic quality that is conveyed in these portrayals of the mountains and the folk who dwell there continually draws me back for more. Following are a few of Woodrell’s more McCarthyesque lines:

“… a new look of baffled hurt, a left behind sadness, like she saw that the great world kept spinning onward and away while she’d overnight become glued to her spot.” (Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone, p.7)

“… shaped for manhood by a fugitive faith and sent among the Walking People to rally them and all like tinker flesh and to make new people he’d guide to that garden place chosen by the Fist, mapped inside the sparking fish, where they could rest their feet after six thousand years of roaming and become settled people… There had been a map to this paradise, but something happened to the Walking People settled with settled gods, and after about thirty years the roof of the new ways fell, walls tumbled and flew, old ways returned ravenous after decades of slighting and the Fist of Gods took seats in the clouds to sulk and reconsider.” (Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone, pp.65-66)

“… she considered forever and how shadowed and lonely it would likely be. In Ree’s heart there was room for more.” (Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone, p.100)

“She… put a dish towel over her eyes so the pictures playing inside her head would flicker brightly against a darkened space… It was like ten thousand gazillion fireflies popped into sparks but their sparkling light was of all the colours known to the mind…” (Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone, p.109)

“She held her breath underwater and opened her eye and gained a clean misty view of rocks polished slick by ages and heard the murmur of a living spring in her ears, the mumbles and plops of water from forever rushing past.” (Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone, p.160)

Alright, time to go climb some stairs. I am now conditioning with the Himalayas in mind for this time next year…

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