Mount Solitary Traverse 25.01.14 – 26.01.14
Taking on Mount Solitary was a last minute decision fuelled by our complacency with campground bookings. We had to give up our original plan for the Royal National Park Coastal Track as North Era Campground was all booked out by 9pm the night before. Lesson learnt.
We took the train to Katoomba around 9:30am on the Saturday morning and arrived at a reasonable meal/pie time. With pie in hand and directions taken from bushwalkingnsw.com, we walked a good 1.5hrs to the start of the trek at Golden Stairs. The Golden Stairs descends to the Federal Pass which promised to lead us to Ruined Castle in just 2.5km. A couple of hours later, there still seemed no end to this 2.5km.
We stopped for a sandwich break before we continued and came across a sign just 10m on. Anxious about setting up camp before dark, we decided to skip Ruined Castle and carry on. The walk soon became a steep climb and occasionally a difficult scramble.
We reached lookout after lookout, only to be disappointed that it was not yet the summit. Eventually it was.
We ate up that view and quickly moved on towards our camp spot for the night, which as recommended, was about 2km beyond Chinamans Gully. After a few false stops we found our spot and were satisfied with the distance we had covered in anticipation of a bigger day ahead. Dinner was our first trial with our fake Trangia set and we were impressed. The meal itself (a very saucy risoni with anchovies) was much less impressive but satisfying enough for our hunger.
It rained overnight but luckily cleared up the next morning. We reached the lookout at the Col (Eastern end of Mt Solitary) in an hour or so, where we were met with an amazing panoramic view of Jamison Valley. There was also a logbook for trekkers to sign and doodle.
There begun our descent to Kedumba River and so begun my whines and complaints of steepness and death. The rain started again and I cried that we really weren’t going to make it. We eventually reached the river and were greeted with the deafening cry of the cicadas. Breakfast thus consisted of tea, Doritos, chocolate and an intense cicada symphony.
From there it was back to an uphill climb. This dragged on for a lot longer than expected and we were both so pleased to finally reach the dirt road. Thinking this was home run now, I had no idea that it was only the beginning of another 2 hours uphill before a further 3hrs into Wentworth Falls town centre. (A tip from the track notes was to leave a car by Queen Victoria Hospital to save the 5km walk to town) A ranger drove by and offered us a ride but we foolishly refused.
We did get this spectacular view though: