Late light hike – Giant Stairway to Furber Stairs + Faulconbridge Point with the dawn

I returned home from work one afternoon this week still itching to hit the trail, so I squeezed in a 2 hour ramble before the sun set on another day.

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Three Sisters with lovely eucalypt in the foreground (I think it’s a mountain ash – but please send me a message or leave a comment below if you disagree)

I am trying to learn to differentiate between the different eucalypts that I find in the Blue Mountains area but I have my work cut out for me. According to Ian Brown:

The latest tally (see The Eucalypts of the GBMWHA) puts the number of eucalypt species found in the WHA at 96 – one of the greatest concentrations of eucalypt diversity in Australia, or anywhere on Earth, and hence an assumed centre of evolution for the group.

*** GBMWHA (Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area)
*** Ian Brown and Alan Page maintain Blue Mountains Nature, a fantastic repository of research and writing about the flora and fauna of the region.

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Clifftop walk

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Start of the Giant Stairway

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Looking up to the Three Sisters Lookout from the Honeymoon Bridge

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Escarpment below Echo Point from the Honeymoon Bridge

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About 900 steps into the valley

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Interesting blend of stone and steel

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The final staircase before you hit Dardanelle’s Pass

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Silhouette from the valley floor

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Mt Solitary as viewed from Dardanelle’s Pass

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Near the junction of Dardanelle’s Pass and Federal Pass

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Furber Stairs side of Cook’s Crossing

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Three Sisters from midway up the Furber Stairs in the last of the afternoon light

A little later in the week, I decided the catch the early morning light, departing before dawn and hiking out to Faulconbridge Pt with the rising sun:

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When I lived in Sun Valley, this used to be one of my regular haunts, but I haven’t been out here in a couple of years

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Here comes the sun, little darling

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The fire trail itself doesn’t provide anything much in the way of views along the way, so lacks the spectacle of some of the upper mountains trails, but there is abundant bird life (I had memorable encounters with Gang Gang Cockatoos and Lyrebirds on this occasion) and the payoff is so worth the walk…

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You emerge onto a large rock platform, with expansive views to the valley below. There is an offshoot which leads down to the Grose River about 1 km back along the fire trail. I’m yet to explore its full length – the gradient is steep but apparently there are some good swimming holes if you can handle the prospect of a two hour hike back to your car after your refreshing dip…

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in 2012 I started a series of abstract renderings of the ridge-lines from various vantage points around the mountains. The collection never really got past the pages of my journal, but here is my doodle of the view from Faulconbridge Point (pretty self-explanatory, but in the event that it’s not clear: blue for water, red for escarpment)

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Looking east towards Springwood Ridge and the Nepean River Valley

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Love this early morning light

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I could have sat here all day but there was work to be done…

I’ll leave you with a quote from Finding Everett Ruess, the book I am currently reading:

“Everett was a loner, but he liked people too damn much to stay down there and live in secret the rest of his life. A lot of us are like that – I’m like that, Ed Abbey was like that, and it sounds like this McCandless kid was like that: We like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again. And that’s what Everett was doing.

Everett was strange… Kind of different. But him and McCandless, at least they tried to follow their dream. That’s what was great about them. They tried. Not many do.” (Ken Sleight, in David Roberts, Finding Everett Ruess, p.283)

I expressed this exact sentiment in a recent letter to a friend (about these figures, the strength of their conviction, about aloneness vs companionship, about an individual’s willingness to pursue their dreams). Food for thought.

I’m off to climb a mountain. Photos to come.

Booknboot

 

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