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Day 1: Mt. Waratah to Bracken Flat
We have a very ordered packing routine: Everything is gathered into the packing room (generally our sun room) and ticked off the list. Then it's packed into a pack or put into a pile for inclusion on our person, double ticking off the list. This means if it's on the list, it definitely comes with us.
We started the day with our sun room filled with piles of bagged food, clothes, sleeping bags and other camping gear.
We rang the National Parks & Wildlife people to check on river levels. Raf (NP&WS Nattai) said the rivers were up (we also checked NSW Water Information) and that Blatch's Pass was very weedy and overgrown with not a very distinct path. This did make us wonder how his words would translate into reality. It wasn't long ago that we climbed out of the Kowmung River up to Scotts Main Range on a ridge that was very overgrown (see Day 7 of our Kanangra Walls walk).
Morning went well: fairly relaxed. Only problem: couldn't find the gorilla tripod - it wasn't on the list! Pleased with the packing process: almost impossible to miss anything on the list.
I've a real mixture of excitement and nerves.
Well... Gayle is praying, Elaine is getting extra lollies: What more could we want? Nerves? Well NP&WS increased what was already pretty intense. This first part of the walk is definitely the scariest part.
After a relaxed morning getting our packs right (a little heavier than I'd wanted) and we wandered up to the train station and headed to Penrith to get some lunch and get Keren.
We met Keren after he finished work and he drove us down to the Mittagong Trackhead (thankfully the GPS knew where Clements Road was because Google didn't). It was a little later than we were hoping, so we got things together and after a brief prayer set off. Sandi mentioned that she wondered what Keren meant by "a good Lenten experience"? I must admit, I did too.
The walk initially takes you up onto Mt Waratah, which is a flattish ridge that gave breathtaking views in the late afternoon sun.
We were suprised, after what Raf said, to find that the track was well marked with little blue markers on the trees.
After leaving the service road, a well worn track follows the flat ridge to Spellbinder Rock, where the track descends to Bracken Flat (our intended camp site for the first night).
On the way down we pass Reids Thumb and one of Sandi's favourite's: Native Fuchsia, and eventually after more down hill walking, we enter the deep liquid shade of Hidden Creek.
Initially the climb out of Hidden Creek eluded us, not expecting it to go up the side of the creek so steeply, then we were on Bracken Flat looking for a camping spot for the night.
We ended up camping basically right on the track (we were not expecting nighttime walkers ), as nightfall was upon us.
We've pitched camp above Bracken Flat. GPS said we got here 36 seconds before sunset! Easy walk down: the blue markers made it extremely easy. Rushed down to the river to get water as it was getting dark quickly.
First bummer: SteriPen failed!! Gave initial blue flash then red flashing LED. Tried and tried: very upset! Then let it do a cycle without putting it in the water and next time: success!!
JetBoil to boil tea: extremely quick.
The SteriPen is a complete mystery. The batteries are newly charged? Finally gave up and used the emergency tablets instead, putting it into the "To Be Sorted Later" pile.
Initially thought SteriPen Problem was batteries - changed them with the spares: no difference. But we're charging them now in the FUSE! (Actually: just finished charging the first two @ 8:40pm)
The FUSE, which should have had pretty close to a full battery, topped up the SteriPen batteries in under an hour! At least that gadget's successful...
Odometer: 3.74 km
Walked: 1:00 hr 3.4 km/h
Stopped: 0:39 hr
Overall: 2.1 km/h
Ascent: 272 m
Descend: 528 m