Amphitheatre Track – Leura Cascades

Currently reading: Levison Wood – Walking the Himalayas (still) | Cristina Garcia – The Lady Matador’s Hotel (still) | Jeff Greenwald – Shopping for Buddhas

I thought I’d hiked all the trails in the Leura Cascades area, but was pleasantly surprised to discover the Ampthitheatre track on yesterday’s romp. Despite Sonia Overall’s advice to never take the left fork (in the poem “mappa mundi”, quoted in my last post), the signage for the right-hand track was no longer existent and the left-hand track read “Cliff Drive via Fern Bower – rough track – experienced hikers only.” Sounded like fun.

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First glimpse of the valley from the top of Bridal Veil Falls – western end of Mt Solitary still in cloud

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After following the course of the Leura Cascades, you come out at the top of Bridal Veil Falls

It was straight down from the first step, so I had some initial doubts about my choice, but told myself to harden up. It is, after all, my summer of stairs. Any lingering reservations were swept away when I arrived at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.

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Imagine these falls during a season of heavy rain…

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Base of Bridal Veil Falls – if you look closely at the ridge line, you can see the rail marking the viewing platform which overlooks the falls from above

As I walked further into the valley, I discovered that Leura has it’s own escarpment trail, much like the National Pass in Wentworth Falls (which is now closed, along with the Wentworth Pass, and the Eastern access to Roberts Pass, after the recent fatal rockfall in the area).

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Rock faces of every shape and colour…

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… and faces in the stone

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Tree hugger

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Escarpment with a view

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The day was heating up already by this stage

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The builders of these trails sure did have their work cut out for them

At one point, I was encircled by a horseshoe shaped ring of cliffs, with the towering tops leaning in to whisper their secrets above me. You know you’re on the Amphitheatre Track before you see the sign.

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New meaning to stone circles

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Ascending from the Fern Bower

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View from Flat Rock Lookout

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Solitary Kiosk

A couple of quick pics from some other walks in the area over the weekend:

Adam’s Lookout – Hazelbrook

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Love our eucalypts

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Adam’s lookout – view from the top

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A brief pause before the hike continues – my trusty daypack is almost five years old and wearing thin – I think I’m going to shop for a replacement this summer…

Undercliff / Overcliff Track – Wentworth Falls

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Overcliff track – gets muddy in parts…

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View from one of the many Overcliff lookout points – I had to hike hard to beat the rain

The Complete List of Books Read in 2017

1 – Mark Haddon – The Pier Falls
2 – J.D. Salinger – Nine Stories
3 – Yann Martel – The High Mountains of Portugal
4 – Ray Bradbury – Something Wicked This Way Comes
5 – Hannah Kent – Burial Rites
6 – Margaret Atwood – Maddaddam
7 – Fredrik Backman – A Man Called Ove
8 – Fredrik Backman – The Scandal
9 – Ian McEwan – The Comfort of Strangers
10 – Chimamanda Adichie – Purple Hibiscus
11 – Mike Harding – A Biography of VW Campers
12 – Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights
13 – Virginia Woolf – To The Lighthouse
14 – Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
15 – Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
16 – Roahd Dahl – Esio Trot
17 – Jon Krakauer – Missoula
18 – Albert Camus – The Stranger
19 – George Orwell – Ninteen Eighty-Four
20 – Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
21 – Georges Perec – Things: A Tale of the Sixties
22 – David Mitchell – Number9Dream
23 – Don DeLillo – White Noise
24 – Fredrik Backman – Britt-Marie Was Here
25 – Robyn Davidson – Tracks
26 – Albert Camus – Exile and the Kingdom
27 – Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash
28 – John Grisham – Grey Mountain
29 – David Foster Wallace – Girl With Curious Hair
30 – David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
31 – Daniel Woodrell – Winter’s Bone
32 – Helen Garner – The First Stone
33 – Sarah Knight – The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck
34 – Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
35 – Sonia Overall – The Art of Walking
36 – Ted Chiang – Stories of Your Life and Others
37 – Levison Wood – Walking the Himalayas (in progress)
38 – Cristina Garcia – The Lady Matador’s Hotel (in progress)

A pretty poor effort all told. I didn’t even average one a week this year. I got off to a slow start, working 6 day weeks on the peach farm through Jan and Feb, so had no energy left by end of day to read anything until after the season was over. Then I started a whole plethora of books through March and April, but nothing was really grabbing my attention. I commenced full time work in May, relegating reading to the evening hours. Once semester started in July, I rarely had time to read beyond whatever I was teaching, and though I have made a solid effort to make up for lost time in the weeks since teaching ended, I will be lucky to hit 40 for the year.

I managed to refrain from reading hiking memoirs for the first half of the year, but they started to creep in again by about August (especially after I broke my wrist, putting me out of action for several weeks). I know it sounds ludicrous to stop hiking due to a broken wrist, but when you’ve broken two in the space of 15 months, you become very wary of sustaining further injury. I wanted to make sure I could weight-bear on that wrist before I risked falling again. All is now well, and I’ve been hitting the trails daily.

Next year I’m setting the goal of at least a book a week, which will be a tough challenge given that my thesis is due in July, but I think it will keep me motivated to have books on the side. Another potential impediment to the goal is the fact that I plan to read Infinite Jest with a friend next year, which is a major undertaking in itself. I’ve suggested, though, that we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves in terms of deadlines on that one. I want it to be a fun experience. Which does not mean I don’t intend to analyse the hell out of that book (and all 388 of its endnotes)!

I’ll be taking first semester off teaching in 2018, but am hoping to pick up some tutes again in Spring, which, as mentioned above, always slows my extracurricular reading down. Then I am planning on hiking in Nepal for a month through Nov/Dec, so don’t imagine I’ll be super keen to carry any books apart from my journal on that adventure. Despite all of these other signs of my having a life beyond my library, I hope to have a more productive reading year than I’ve had in 2017. No doubt there will be an increasing number of Himalayan memoirs dotting the list as the year wears on. Welcoming recommendations. I’ll be hiking my local trails and will continue to write about all things reading and hiking related here on the blog.

Have a fantastic holiday season, however you celebrate it.

Booknboot xo

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