Blue Mountains Pack Carry Xmas Adventure – Hike No. 2

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After our first Blue Mountains 4 Day Pack Carry Adventure, we had two nights and a full day of rest in Katoomba before heading off on the second part of our Blue Mountains Green Trails Australia Meetup Hiking Group Adventure back into the remote wilderness once again.

If you’ll be visiting this area and need some maps or books, here is a fine selection:

Our second Pack Carry was 45km long over 4 days with 2,850m elevation gain. Weather was forecast to be very hot… reaching almost mid 40’s on the day that we ran out of water 2km before reaching the next water source.

Starting View of Pack Carry No. 2, Day 1.

Let me point out here that this is a recollection of our hike and not a guide as such. Unfortunately my Garmin Fenix 2 decided to give up on day 2 of our first hike so I do not have a reliable GPX or stats for this hike.

Trail to Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

We started Day 1 of our second Pack Carry a short walk from our Hotel on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk so that we could check out all the view points along the way before descending into the valley near Scenic World. We tried to leave reasonably early to avoid all the tourists and managed to do so for the most part. Day one was forecast to be almost 18km.

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

The Prince Henry Cliff Walk is filled with tourist lookout points, the most scenic part of our hike was ahead until descending near Scenic World.

Views somewhere near Echo Point of Mount Solitary which we would be crossing on Day 2 of this epic journey.

Things started getting a little busy and touristy at Echo Point. We had a quick look at our hiking plan over the valley and continued down to Katoomba Cascades to pass by the masses.

Katoomba Cascades. Very busy on hot days. Even at 10am.

As tree cover started to protect us from the harsh 35+ degree day, we relaxed amongst the cool climate forest and took in the beauty of it all.

Katoomba Falls. Fenced off so people can’t fall to the lower level.

A quick stop to the top base of Katoomba Falls was quite nice before continuing on towards Scenic World.

Scenic World Cable Car travelling to Little Boxes on the Hillside.

What a surprise we got down at the Dinosaur circuit where they had an ice cream stand. I wondered how many ice cream stands we would find over the following 4 days… And after a short 3 seconds of thought I proceeded to spend all the cash I had on at least 4 icy poles and a Maxibon. I promptly announced this as our lunch break.

Shortly thereafter we continued to enjoy more cool climate forests, dense tree cover, multitudes of Lyrebirds, and cliff faces.

An exposed section near the landslide.

We came across one particular Lyrebird which danced to the tunes of our trusty co-leader, Ela, showing off its beautiful feathers, performing flawlessly.

Lyrebird dancing to pleasant sounds emanating from Ela’s lungs.

And back into the forest we headed towards our campsite near Ruined Castle, which we did not visit because we were just way too tired on this very hot day. Along the way we were presented with many views of the three Sisters.

Three Sisters views while hiking towards Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary.

And this marks the end of Day 1. Day 2 brings forth unknown challenges of Mount Solitary, the hardest part of our Blue Mountains Pack Carry Number 2, with 11km of distance.

The beginning of our ascent up Mount Solitary.

On the way to Mount Solitary we passed a couple of other pack carry hikers who turned back towards Katoomba after defeat of not being able to cross Mount Solitary, saying that it was more of a rock climb than a hike. We became a little concerned since we had left our ropes behind thinking that this was the easier of the two pack carrys.

Thankfully, heading up Mount Solitary wasn’t too hard. We thought of all the practice we had including recent trips to Cathedral Ranges South Circuit, the Pinacles at Eildon, and our Crinoline Pack Carry, all in Victoria.

Views near the top of Mount Solitary looking back to Ruined Castle.

Views across the valley were spectacular as we continued to climb. Apparently we still had a while to go as the track led us up and down along the cliff edges for a good while before descending.

Hiking Poles came in handy along the top of Mount Solitary.
On the approach to our descent of Mount Solitary.

Now descent… this, as we started to understand, was the most difficult part. It was a steep, mostly slippery, with loosely packed dirt atop boulders and around trees, that were all ready to give way at any step.

Down Mount Solitary required 5 points of contact with our bottom in the dirt being the most useful. Gloves may have been handy at this point.

Which is why we shuffled down on our bums most of the way down. Drop offs were huge and unforgiving. A wrong move, and a tumble would result in the most unfortunate descent down the mountainside.

I strongly agree to all points mentioned on this sign. Especially when temperatures rise above 40 degrees.

On our descent as temperatures peaked at 44 degrees in the shade we ran out of water, just as we saw another sign, one that we have been seeing more frequently recently, speaking of remote areas with indistinct routes and steep terrain, exposed climbing and loose surfaces, no reliable drinking water and not sterile should you happen to find any at all.

Salvation at Kedumba River.
Our friend at Kedumba Campground.

Thankfully we had just passed all of that, heading towards salvation of the watery kind, which leaves me posting this rather flattering photo of myself almost naked in the Kedumba River. We were oh so happy to see it after 2km of no water in 44 degree temperatures with no shade cover.

Loving my new Wilderness Equipment Space 2 Winter tent which proved to work just as well on 25 degree nights with enough ventilation points.

And that, my friends, marks the end of Day 2 at Kedumba Campground with absolutely stunning views of Day 3 walkabouts…

On Day 3 the hiking poles came out once again as we climbed halfway up the hill towards Wentworth Falls, before walking back down to the lowest parts of the Valley towards our final night camping at Leura Creek, 11km away.

River life at Leura Creek.

Leura Creek Campground was quite pleasant and we enjoyed sitting by the water looking at all sorts of creatures making their way around. I dipped my feet in the water and lots of fish nibbled on my toes and beneath my feet.

Day Four Destination: Three Sisters.

Day four was a tough but short 7.5km climb up to the Three Sisters, back to our starting point and Katoomba.

I’m sure this sign was put here as a joke – Way Out. Remote wilderness escape.
Towards The Giant Staircase, a lovely section of the walk.

We headed up the hill to our final challenge, the Giant Stairway.

And my, what a Giant Staircase it was. Many Steps, Many Stops, Many Breaks.

Finally, at the top we were rewarded with stunning views looking back at what we had just conquered. This was certainly an epic journey and one that we will remember for a long time, and quite possible repeat again at a later date.

Last modified: January 12, 2019