Mt Solitary in the Blue Mountains has become an annual pilgrimage for me and, as I’ve written before, has a special place in my heart. It was an overnight walk here in the winter of 2013 with a group of friends that triggered an epiphany as to just how rewarding and rejuvenating bushwalking can be for both body and soul.
Bushwalking has all the ingredients of a good adventure but my preference has always been for a recipe requiring generous amounts of blood, sweat and tears in order to test one’s physical boundaries and build camaraderie among mates. The romantic notion of an enduring and arduous walk has been gnawing at me for some time and though Reverse Mt Solitary in a Day did not qualify as sufficiently challenging, it did offer a taste of what is to come when I finally convert this idea into practice in the future, whether it be via the classic Three Peaks, K2K-in-a-day or one of the ‘multi-dayers’ in Tasmania.
On this occasion, we reversed the classic Mt Solitary traverse by starting somewhere along Kedumba Valley Rd and finished atop the Golden Staircase (as mapped below). We also threw in a ‘bushbashing’ detour near the Kedumba River, which tested our navigational skills. It was a powerful reminder of just how quickly one can lose one’s bearings in this oceanic woodland …
… this tangled network of fallen leaves, dense underbrush, sudden crags and soaring trees blocked and obscured landmarks leaving us unable to reconcile our physical location with the map. The intention had been to reconnect with the Mt Solitary Walking Track but after roaming through this undulating leech-infested terrain with no sign of said path, we decided there was only one way to end our predicament. And so, we followed one of the many tributaries of the Kedumba River back to our position pre-detour. All said and done, this circumbendibus cost us 2 hours 36 minutes but was priceless in adventure gained and lesson learnt – always travel with a compass!
Getting ready to leave the motel for an early pre-dawn start, c. 4:30am.
Fire trail descent towards Kedumba River. Danny (left) stylishly attired.
Sitting on our comfortable fold-up stools while preparing morning tea near the Kedumba River. It was from here that we took our detour.
Taking a detour around the Kedumba River to add some distance and ‘spice things up’, largely in response to greenhorn Idi’s complaints that the walk was too pedestrian, yet we hadn’t even started the steep climb up the backside of Mt Solitary!
A little off track somewhere around the Kedumba River. A deliberate detour or lost? Either way, it added a couple of hours and several kilometres to the journey.
Taking a breather before ascending the backside of Mt Solitary proper toward the Col. What a quad-breaker that would turn out to be.
The logbook’s protective container at the Col, located 919 metres above sea level.
Leaving a note in the logbook.
Letting the lactic acid subside after a cruncher of a climb at the Col. Spectacular views from this point but don’t be fooled, there is actually considerably more climbing from here before Mt Solitary flattens out.
Kicking back after the steep ascent to the Col. All smiles.
Recreating an old photo from January 2004 … how we’ve chAnGED!
Panoramic views from a lookout and fantastic, highly-recommended campsite somewhere towards the middle of Mt Solitary’s plateau.
Admiring the views. Tranquility.
Looking out into the distance.
Stretching out those cramps at Chinamans Gully before the descent off Mt Solitary. Idi and Richie’s cramps left the rest of us in stitches … from laughing so hard (sorry).
Descending and scrambling Mt Solitary along Korowall Knife-edge.
Feeling happy as we make our way down the other side of Mt Solitary along Korowall Knife-edge ridge.
At Katoomba’s pub, the Harp and Fiddle, drinking well-deserved beers after c. 12 hours and concluding with a shattering countless-step-climb up the Golden Staircase.