Tag Archive | hiking

Walking up, Looking Down

Holiday in Hawaii #21

We didn’t have to walk too far or climb too high to have a great view of our surroundings when we hiked the Diamond Head Summit Trail. The hike to the top of the volcanic crater is only 1.3 km and reaches an elevation of just 171 metres but the scene from the top is spectacular.

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Our walk started at the Diamond Head Visitor Centre, and from the wide cement path on the floor of the crater we could see our destination at the summit.

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The track ahead looked steep, but looks can be deceptive. It was a gentle uphill walk along the inside wall of the crater, with many tight corners and switchbacks and glimpses of the view as we rose higher.

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At the top of the track there were several flights of steps. The first set of 74 led to a dimly lit tunnel which ascended through the crater wall for 75 metres. Up another 99 steps and then a spiral staircase and we found ourselves in a Fire Control Station on the outer rim of the crater.

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From there the track wound around the outside edge of the crater before another 54 steps led up to the platform at the summit.

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More than one million people visit Diamond Head each year and many of them were on the trail with us. But it was worth waiting patiently for a spot at the summit – once there we spent some time enjoying the view of the southern coastline of Oahu, from Koko Head to Waikiki.

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As well as the long distance views, there was plenty of wildlife to see on the trail. Far away and close up – it was a big reward for a little effort.

 

Enjoy more beautiful walks with Jo on Monday.

Walking to the Top of Australia

When I was young, my family went on a caravanning holiday to the Snowy Mountains. While we were there we climbed Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko. Dad was able to drive to within 700 metres of the peak, and we left the car at Rawson’s Pass to walk up the track to the top.

That was more than 40 years ago and things have changed since then. Now, the closest car park to Mt Kosciuszko is at the alpine village of Thredbo and the mountain is almost 7 kilometres away. Thredbo is 1370 metres above sea level and it’s almost another 1000 metres higher at the summit.

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The journey to the top of Australia begins with the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and it’s not just hikers who take advantage of the easy way up.

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There are 35 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the area and thrill-seekers take their bikes up on the chairlift and ride the twisting mountain trails down to the valley floor at hair-raising speeds.

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In contrast the chairlift takes 15 minutes to travel the 1.8 kilometres to the top of the ridge.

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A footbridge across Merritts Creek marks the start of the walking track to the summit and from here it’s a 6.5 kilometre hike, most of which is reasonably level. The metal pathway is raised off the ground and allows walkers to enjoy the heathland and alpine vegetation without causing any damage.

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DSCN1813Mt Kosciuszko, still bearing patches of snow in mid-summer, first appears in the distance about a third of the way along the track. From the Kosciuszko Lookout the mountain looks no higher than the surrounding peaks and has none of the craggy appearance of other peaks in the world. These ranges are some of the oldest on Earth and over millions of years they have worn away so that the highest point is only 2228 metres above sea level.

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The walking track makes its way across the alpine slopes past the headwaters of the Snowy River and Lake Cootapatamba, Australia’s highest lake and one of its five glacial lakes, to Rawson’s Pass where it meets up with that old road I remember.

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From there, it’s a short but steep walk up the original track for the last 1.67 kilometres. It spirals around the mountain until, finally, the summit is up ahead.

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For the second time in my life I’m standing on the top of Australia. It’s a great feeling…now I just have to walk back to Thredbo again.

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Worth The Walk

There are more than 3000 glaciers in the South Island of New Zealand and seeing one up close is usually on the must-see list for visitors. Rob Roy Glacier in the Mt Aspiring National Park is one that tourists can easily see – for free and in safety.

From the township of Wanaka it’s an hour’s drive to Mt Aspiring National Park, through spectacular scenery and lush farmland. The last part of the journey is a gravel track with 11 fords, several cattle grids and some very tight turns, but it’s worth the effort to reach the start of the Rob Roy Glacier walking track.

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The five kilometre track starts from the Raspberry Creek car park and meanders across the river flats to the suspension bridge across the Matukituki River.

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From there it begins to climb uphill – a gentle incline in some places and steeper elsewhere, following the Rob Roy Stream through shaded beech forests carpeted with ferns and mosses.

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It’s exciting to reach the first lookout and see the glacier at last.

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After leaving the lookout there are still of couple of kilometres of uphill walking. At the head of Rob Roy Valley the forest gives way to alpine plants which grow above the tree line, and at 1000 metres above sea level the viewing point at the end of the track has uninterrupted vistas of Mt Rob Roy and the glacier.

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The track can be very busy in Summer but even with large numbers of visitors the area around the viewing point has an air of quiet reflection. Everyone seems to appreciate the grandeur of the scene before them, and their good fortune in being able to witness this amazing natural spectacle in their own space and time.

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