37 days away
108 km / 67 miles since last post
7,708 km / 4,790 miles total
We passed by Kings Creek on our way to Kings Canyon yesterday and noticed they provided helicopter tours of the area. We drove out to speak to the pilot and to find out more information. Stu wanted to know how it would work in terms of taking pictures from the air. The pilot, Max, was really helpful. He showed us the helicopter and advised that he could remove the side doors, if this would make taking photographs easier. He also said that he could tailor the tour to our needs, for example slowing down over certain areas to get some good shots. I think we were sold on the tour, but he advised us that the best times for flying are probably early morning or late afternoon. As we'd planned on taking a closer look at Kings Canyon today, we decided to take the helicopter tour tomorrow morning.
We returned to the campsite to grab some lunch before setting off to Kings Canyon. We had read about the different walks available, which vary in length. The longest walk was the 6km return Kings Canyon Rim Walk - it sounded the best. We knew it was going to be a bit of mission, but hoped it would be worth the effort.
Before leaving the resort, we'd also informed the recpetion of our intentions to do the long walk, and gave them our details. It's just a precaution in case something should happen. Stu told me that when he spoke with the woman at reception and gave our details to her, she advised him 'it is a good idea to do this, because sometimes people don't come back'. How reassuring!
We started the walk around 3:30pm, which seemed a good time as the main heat of the day had passed. However, it was still really warm and we had to take all of the proper precautions. We came prepared with our wide rimmed hats and fly nets, we made sure we put on plenty of sunscreen and we also ensured we had plenty of water. We took up two large bottles of water plus two bottles of Gatorade for a bit of an energy boost. And yes, we consumed the whole lot! Nearly 4 litres!
The walk started with an intense hike up 500 steps (not exactly easing you into it gently!). The information provided stated that this was the most strenuous part of the walk, and that it was a good idea to get it out of the way at the beginning when you're still fresh and full of energy. With the sun beating down on us, this was tough going. We had to stop a couple of times to catch our breath. Thankfully we could take the walk fairly easy, as we were in no hurry. As it was late afternoon, the sun wasn't too high in the sky so there were some shady spots along the way. At certain points there were breathtaking views. There were no handrails or fences, so you could walk right up to the edge of the canyon rim and look out and down - it was incredible. Whilst this was quite a trek in such hot conditions, the lookouts made it well worth it. It's quite incredible that these rocks were formed millions of years ago, starting off as sand dunes.
About halfway through our walk, there were some steps which had been purposely built to take you down into the 'Garden of Eden' - a relative oasis amongst all the bare rock. There was a large pool of water, active with tadpoles in the late stage of turning into green tree frogs. It was a pretty sight amongst the harshness of the rocks. After this cool and tranquil area, there were more steps taking us back up and out of the 'Garden of Eden' to continue walking around the canyon.
The walk was very well signposted, which was extremely helpful as I imagine it would be very easy to get lost otherwise. There were emergency radio stations at certain points along the route. It's a stark reminder of just how dangerous this area could be if ill prepared. The walk did go well, and thankfully no accidents to report. The walk itself isn't actually that bad, the thing that makes it tough of course is the heat. However, if you take plenty of water and use some common sense you'll be fine. All in all it took us 4.5 hours to walk 6km. that should give you some idea of the ruggedness of the terrain!
After getting back to the campsite (and notifying reception of our safe trip) we were hoping for some relief via the air conditioning. Unfortunately, whilst we had been out there had been a power cut, and the whole site was down. Thankfully, the heat had subsided by this point, but we thought the best thing for it was a dip in the pool. This cooled us down perfectly, and our appetite returned with a vengeance. During the walk the only thing you crave is water, but when you are fully hydrated again the hunger makes a fast appearance. After a short dip in the pool we got changed and headed over to the bar to get some food. The power was still out, but they had made good use of their BBQ area and were feeding everyone well. The bar staff were doing a great job too, serving everyone by torchlight and writing down all the transactions. We got chatting to another couple while were eating our meal who were spending six weeks in Australia. They were a good laugh, and during the meal the power returned, to huge cheers from the bar.
After our meal and a few drinks we headed back to the van for a relatively early night, in preparation for our morning helicopter flight tomorrow. We are both looking forward to it!