the dawnside of things…

One way or another, I have officially been bushwalking. Does it count as a bushwalk, if you were on a trail? Because I’ve now been off-trail, as well as on. At Blackdown, we followed a trail, which was smart, since there were lots of cliffs around. With all those warning signs, with cartoon figures falling off cliffs… that could’ve been us! I know, you were worried. Well, it could’ve been Joe, too, if he’d had worse balance. But that’s a rabbit trail… I went bushwalking with friends at Red Hill (is that the name of the mountain, or not?), just down from Dawnside. And there wasn’t a trail to be seen.

We actually left Emerald around 12:30, three carloads of us, with a stop at Maccas (McDonald’s) on the way. About 90 kilometers later, we arrived at Dawnside, a property belonging to friends of ours. How would you like a backyard view like this? It really IS their backyard view. It’s directly east, so they get to watch the sun rise behind those mountains, every morning! After a short stop, we loaded up the 4WD vehicles, and headed for their neighbors’ property.

After much bouncing around, and occasionally opening a window to take a picture, we arrived at our destination. As no one has told me otherwise, I believe it’s called Red Hill. But I don’t think Jack and Jill went up a hill like this, so I think this was probably a mountain. [Update: It was called Red Mountain. I feel much better about this name.]

Then, we climbed through a barbwire (bobwire, if you live in the American South) fence, crossed a stream (ok, it was more of a trickle), and started to climb. No paths, just straight up through the long yellow grass. Mind you, under this grass, a lot of red rocks were hiding. They resembled broken pieces of red brick, and were easy to slip on. But my mind wasn’t actually on that, on the way up. I was thinking more about actually getting to the top, as I was reminded of how badly out of shape I’m in. And my shoe inserts and my feet were having a painful argument, something to do with the sharp incline I was ascending. Eventually, they got over it, though.

I would like to say thanks to those that stayed with the “caboose” on this hike, because I’ve been on hikes where the “minders” made it obvious how they hated being stuck with my friends and I. A hateful memory of Blood Mountain comes to my mind. But everyone who was nice enough to wait for me, they were all cheerful and pointed out some of the plant life (such as the yellow paper daisy, which really does feel like it’s made of paper), and we had a great time talking.

We eventually reached the first “peak”, and things leveled off for a while, before ascending to the next “peak”. We stopped for minor surgery, as someone had a thorn in their hand, and I had the longest fingernails. It was successful, but I don’t think I’ll give up my day job. After that, we kept walking, and I think that’s at the point where Caitlin tried to get me to do a “coo-ee”, after she did one of her own. I mean, come on, we were alone, at that point, with a magnificent view in all directions! And I chickened out, and didn’t do it. I’m sorry, I fail at life. Ok, Aussie life. Maybe another time?

Walking was easier, at this point, but there was less grass and more red rocks to avoid slipping on. But we finally reached the top, where all the others were hanging out on some large boulders, under a cactus tree. No, I haven’t figured out what the name of the tree is, yet, but it definitely had cactus in it, though it looked like a normal tree. Anybody care to help me out? I considered climbing it, to get a better picture, but decided it wasn’t sturdy enough.

We had tea, right there on the rocks, as we’d all brought snacks with us. Potato chips, fruitcake, Cadbury chocolate, and many other items were passed all around. There was a glorious view, though the breeze was picking up. After having snacks, water, and plenty of time to rest, we were refreshed enough to head down again.

Going downhill is a whole different kettle of fish. I had no trouble keeping up with anyone, speed-wise, but by the end of the hike, it really was wise to not go extremely fast. Once we entered the long grass again, you couldn’t see where the rocks were, or how far down your next step would take you. Even if you aren’t prone to turning your ankle (and I am), you have to be extremely careful. I actually went sideways for a good portion of the descent, just because I was trying to feel my way through the grass. Sure, I slipped any number of times, but a small slide isn’t a big deal. A big fall that could throw you into a jagged tree stump, that would be something else entirely. But there were no injuries, and we were able to enjoy the view, all the way down.

When we finally reached the bottom and crossed the creek, we only had to avoid numerous… horse patties? As we were outside of the fence, I think someone had been riding there, recently. After a jolting (especially for those riding in the trunk) ride in the 4WDs back to Dawnside, we had a little more time to chat, and then drove back to Emerald. A lovely day. Not an easy one, but so worth it. I’d do it again. Maybe I’ll even “coo-ee”, next time.

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