Easter Holiday was a great opportunity to get out of the city and recharge the batteries in the middle of the nature. I haven't been hiking for a while and even photographically I was not so much active since I started the new job. So I was looking forward this short trip. It is just four hour drive from Sydney (that is if you don't get stuck in Easter road congestion) and then it continues on foot.
There was not too much resource about this trail online. I didn't know what to expect and also weather changed quite lot in last few days. It was very raining daily and also temperature dropped quite significantly. We actually considered not going and go ahead came just day before trip. I had to buy a sleeping bag because of this. Originally I planned to sleep only in emergency bivy, which I though was quite sufficient for late summer. On top of that I packed more clothes, just in case temperature drops further down or if I got drenched in the rain. Of course add to that a photography equipment and I ended up carrying a heavy load. Weather actually turned out ok and backpack was definitely "overpacked". I could easily do without a sleeping bag, I didn't even need extra set of clothing. Ah well. I'll know next time.
As for gear I took Fujifilm X-T1 with 14mm and 50-140 zoom, Fujifilm X100S as a backup, whole bunch of batteries, set of Lee filters and tripod. Also packed a GoPro camera to shoot some footage. This doesn't seem a lot but it proved to be quite heavy. I used the zoom only for few shots and it could'v stayed at home.
We started out hike quite late as we got quite delayed by road congestion. Estimated 4 hr hike to campsite proved to be very optimistic. Terrain was rugged and backpacks heavy. Little less than two hours into hike it started to get quite dark so we decided to spend the night on narrow rock ledge with unbelievable view. This proved to be the best experience of the trip. At least for me. We quickly gathered some firewood for fire. It always helps to keep the morale. Night was calm and quite warm. Seep was not so good. Ledge wasn’t quite horizontal and we were continuously sliding down. I didn’t have a mat and the rock was very hard to sleep on. Still the view next morning was spectacular.
After hiking to the main campsite we had a lunch and took a little time rest. Luckily there was a stream nearby to get some fresh water. Our water we took from home run out rathe quickly. Hike was demanding, it was hot and we got quickly dehydrated. Of course we forgot purifying tablets (among many other things) so we had to boil the water, just to be safe. It is good idea to take gas stove. Firewood is scarce.
Afternoon we embarked on mission to explore the Monolith Valley. It is an amazing landscape. It could have been a setting for Jurassic park. T-Rex or King Kong could have showed up any moment. Only flat light stopped it to reach perfection. It was cloudy and skies were flat. Also the contrast was too great for sensors on our cameras to handle it. Just before sunset we had to call it a day and return to the camp before dark. It is easy to loose the track and it happened to us few times. We had to backtrack a little a d try again but eventually we made it back safely. Night was once again warm with little rain but nothing too serious. Next morning we started early, about 4am. I couldn’t sleep so I used this opportunity to setup for sunrise shots while my friends set up for timelapse. Unfortunately the weather, or rather the light wasn’t playing the same game. We didn’t even see the sun and sky was once again quite flat and uninteresting. I got some shots but nothing spectacular.
We still got one more place to explore. The Castle, an iconic peak in national park. Hike is not too long but getting to the summit requires little bit of climbing. Nothing too serious but it involves some ropes which are already fixed on the spot.
I think we had bad luck on this trip. When we finally reached the top of the peak the whole valley was covered under thick, white and featureless fog. Here and there it cleared for a minute but then it got covered again quickly. Experience and views are nevertheless amazing and it is well worth the effort of getting up there.
After we got back down a hike back to the car was awaiting for us. I wasn’t looking forward the heavy backpack but there was no option. Actually it was surprisingly fast walk. Even though mostly downhill, the heavy backpack was a still major issue. My three times herniated disk was always in back of my mind. Luckily we got down without any major injury, except few scratches from bushes and we concluded the trip with overnighting ad main camping area just at the edge of national park.
This has been a very good experience. Hie is not very long hike (in terms of distance) but altitude gain of 800 metres within a short time can be overwhelming for some. Also bushes are dense, rock is loose and slippery. Despite all these challenges, this a recommended hike for every nature lover and photographer.
Af for photographs, they are adjusted in Lightroom and perhaps one of them in Photoshop using Google Nik Collection which is available now for free now. As I mentioned it previously, conditions were less than optimal and dynamic range of some scenes way too high. Fortunately RAW images retained quite lot of detail so with little nudging in Lightroom I was able to get some results. I went for stylised moody images this time. Probably little bit more than I used to do in past, but why not. I hope you like them :)