Currently reading: Levison Wood – Walking the Himalayas (still) | Cristina Garcia – The Lady Matador’s Hotel (still) | Jeff Greenwald – Shopping for Buddhas (still)
Christmas Eve was shaping up to be another hot one, so I decided to do a short version of one of my favourite valley floor hikes to the Ruined Castle from the Golden Stairs. The sign overestimates the time required by a couple of hours, but better to overestimate than underestimate when it comes to bush safety…
I would usually descend the Furber Stairs, coming back up the Golden Staircase and then looping back to my car via the road, but that walk involves a lot more direct exposure to sun and I would have been hiking in the heat of the day by the time I completed the circuit. The Furber Stairs to Golden Stairs via Ruined Castle does take about 5 hours, while descending and ascending the Golden Staircase shortens it to just under 3 hours. An extended version involves walking down into the forest from Leura Cascades and then on to Mt Solitary via the Ruined Castle and return, but this is a long day, taking about 9 hours of solid hiking. An even longer version sees you spending a night on Mt Solitary. This last trek requires carrying lots of water, as there is no reliable water source once you descend the Golden Staircase until you reach the Kedumba River on the far side of Mt Solitary. Although the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) have put in some shelters with rain tanks to capture roof run-off near the northern turn-off to the Ruined Castle, there is no guarantee that these will contain any water. When I did this walk a couple of years ago, I carried 5 litres, and used them all.
My first glimpse of the ‘castle’:
Descending to the valley floor:
In other walks this week:
And just like that, Christmas is over for another year.
I’m heading off for a few nights of camping with the lads later this week. Looking forward to working on my river chapter while pitched by the water’s edge…