Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kedumba Circuit Social Media Style

We've all been there, looking for a house or apartment and getting trundled around by an ill-educated realtor listening to realtor speak and automatically translating "easily maintained garden" to concreted yard front and back, or "close to transportation" as has a multi-lane freeway five metres from the front of the house and a six lane railway the same distance from the back, or, my favorite "deferred maintenance" also known as the house is falling down around your ears. 

But, do you know how to decode social media speech? In other words, do you understand that "totally epic partner, knows how to tough it out" means cries like a baby every time her hair gets messed up, or "incredibly remote area which few have visited" means ten minutes from the parking lot at a big tourist lookout, or even "this dude is legit., never gives up" means sprays about what a badass climber he/she is but snivels on a well bolted 5.4 (grade 10 for you Aussies). If you are confused about social media speak and are wondering if that badass in the hammock overlooking Peyto Lake (ten minutes from the parking lot, big tourist lookout) would really make a good partner for a winter ascent of the east ridge of Mount Temple read on and I will translate social media speak for you in this trip report of a walk around Kedumba Circuit in the Blue Mountains. 

 So Stoked to have THIS. guy as my partner for the expedition

SM Speak: I spent weeks planning this epic expedition which would involve a steep descent into a remote valley, followed by an heinously steep climb back up a narrow ridge, over two rocky mountains requiring advanced scrambling skills to summit, a harrowing descent into a fast running and wild river valley where we hoped to camp for the night. On our second day we would cross multiple creeks and rivers, navigate through dense bush, hike up and over steep ridges, and, hopefully, finding a faint track which would enable us to climb back out of this deep wilderness landscape back to civilization. We would be off the grid for two days, would have to carry all our food and gear for two days out in the wilderness, and, could only hope that we would find sufficient fresh water along the way to survive the searing heat of an Australian summer. 

Translation: I glanced at the map and did a quick calculation of the distance, ignored the elevation gain, about 34 to 36 km, I'm old, but not dead yet, I should be able to walk that easily in two days. This would be a doddle, my grandmother (dead going on fourty years) could rise out of her grave, do this walk and still be back at the local cafe in time for a custard tart for afternoon tea. 

 Remote, wild, untamed, authentic

SM Speak: My partner for this expedition was legit. A total badass who knows how to suffer, how to push through pain and rise to next level, how to move out of his comfort zone and embrace the edge of human potential. I felt blessed to travel through such an awe inspiring landscape with this authentic dude. 

Translation: I'd beat Doug over the head if he refused to come with me, and, he knows that if he starts to whine about anything, I'll beat him a bit harder. Truth is, I'm pretty desperate and will go with anyone who has a pulse - I've even thought about using a corpse as a belay slave but they get a bit smelly after a while and their hands seem to slip off the rope. Doug has survived 30 years of outdoor adventuring so I'm pretty sure he'll make it through one more trip. However, you never know. If this is the trip that does him in, I'm pretty sure I can find somewhere out in the woods to stash the body until some feral dogs strip the flesh off his bones and scatter the remains. 

Psyched to Push. The. Limits.

SM Speak:  Early the first morning we started our epic descent down into the deep valley below. Conditions were tough but we managed to push beyond our comfort zones and we finally made it down deep into the remote valley where few people had ventured before.

Translation: We wandered off about 10 am. The track was easy and well marked. At the bottom of the descent, we had to push past hordes of tourists who had got off the cable car and were clogging the track. 

 Like water, run free and clean

SM Speak:  Our route took us through deep rainforest full of poisonous snakes and spiders. We were alert to every danger but managed to walk all the way to the base of our first steep ascent up and over Ruined Castle before we stopped to hydrate and fuel ourselves for the heinous and nerve wracking climb of this rugged mountain. Far overhead we could hear a helicopter searching for some lost walkers who had disappeared into this unforgiving wilderness. 

Translation: Nice walk through pleasant rainforest. A couple of snakes slithered out of the way as we approached. Apparently, another couple of bogans had managed to get lost, a common occurrence close to a major city. We had some water and a couple of cold snags (sausages) before we walked up Ruined Castle. 

Be strong, like the mountain

SM Speak:  We opted to take the challenging route up and over Ruined Castle and down the other side to Cedar Gap. We love to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to live more fully. Desperate climbing up a steep ridge led us to the base of Ruined Castle where a jumble of cliffs and boulders required intense route finding skills to find the way to the summit. Had we slipped, we would likely have died as the exposure was intense. On top, Doug told me that the "secret to life is not waiting for the day we will learn to fly, it's jumping off cliffs and making our wings on the way down." "Truth" I said and, was so inspired and motivated, I leapt off, and, because I believed anything was possible, I landed gently as a feather at the base of the Ruined Castle. 

Translation: Only a couple of lazy lard-arses would not hike the extra 100 metres up and over Ruined Castle. It took about 20 seconds to find an easy scramble route to the top where we had another couple of cold snags and some water.  I tripped on the way down and landed flat on my face.

Push your limits, you'll never regret it.

SM Speak:  The next stage of the route required an epic climb up Korrowall Knife Edge where we would finally be getting close to Mount Solitary. On either side of us, the ridge fell away over 700 metres down into deep and remote valleys. Footing was treacherous and we had to proceed carefully pulling on deep reserves of inner strength cultivated during long and intense expeditions that we had mounted in the past. I was inspired by the courage and tenacity which Doug displayed as he continued upwards, not letting the heady exposure phase him but continuing to push out and showing me the true edges of human endurance. 

Translation: The track gains 400 or 500 metres over the next couple of kilometres and is just a beaten in foot pad that is a bit steep and loose in parts requiring occasional use of the hands. If you fell off, you'd stop pretty soon but, you might get a big banged up, but what kind of dolt would fall of such easy terrain? Doug whined on the way up but I just ignored him and, within an hour or so it was all over and we were up on the long ridge of Mount Solitary. 

Experience the wind, the rain, the storm, it will make you stronger

SM Speak:  Mount Solitary is a long and remote mountain lined by steep, rugged and dangerous cliffs on all sides. The track is completely overgrown and we had to use all our considerable navigation and route-finding skills to find our way through this desperate and unforgiving landscape. There is only one way off Mount Solitary and we knew we had to find it or face a long night with no water to drink in this far flung area of the mountains where few people travel. We pushed on, long beyond the point of fatigue, reaching the edge of human endurance, but, we knew, deep inside, we would be stronger in the end by facing our fears and pushing forward beyond our comfort zones. 

Translation: The track along Mount Solitary is a typical Australian track, never built in any formal way, just walked in by the few walkers that venture more than ten minutes from the parking lot. Travel was tediously slow, but, only an idiot could get lost as the northern side of Mount Solitary makes an unmistakable hand rail. If you really needed to, you could bushwack off the south end of Mount Solitary, but, finding the track through the cliffs at the eastern end of Mount Solitary is truthfully as easy as tying your shoe laces if you have even a modicum of navigational skill.

 Know silence, know yourself

SM Speak:  Finally, we reached the eastern side of Mount Solitary and found the steep and dangerous route down to Solitary Pass. We had to descend over 700 metres down into the wild and remote Kedumba River valley over a distance of only two or three kilometres. The day had been long, tiring and involved incredible hardship. Only by pulling together and supporting one another had we been able to continue on. Would we make it down to the Kedumba River and find a campsite and fresh water before night fell? We did not know, but, we would die trying. 

Translation: We stumbled blindly onto the track leading off the eastern escarpment and staggered down the steep and slippery track cursing the entire way. Our old knees were complaining loudly by the time we got to a semi-flat spot where we finally felt we weren't going to slide all the way down. We were both tired, hungry, hot and thirsty and, if either of us had voiced a single word of complaint, the other would have ripped their heart out like a hungry wolf. F**k these crappy Australian tracks. 

 The rocks, the caves, the cliffs, my spiritual home

SM Speak:  Deep in the Kedumba River valley we came upon the clear waters of this remote and wild river running over rocks and through ancient gum trees that have been standing in this spiritual location for aeons long before white man came to this land. This far flung area is seldom visited by people and we felt a deep and spiritual peace as we contemplated the beauty of nature from our gorgeous campsite by the river. 

Translation: We finally staggered into camp just before dark feeling thoroughly buggared. There were no flat tent sites and we had to scrape out a tussocky camp in the near dark. An effluent treatment plant empties into Jamison Creek, a tributary of the Kedumba River, upstream of where we were camped so we had to treat all the water before we drank it. Our camp felt like a dark, God-forsaken hole where the sun rarely shines but we were happy to have our packs off and rest for the night. 

 Climb as high as you can

SM Speak:  Next morning our epic journey continued, we had to walk uphill on a faint track hoping to intersect a fire trail which would follow the course of the Kedumba River northwards, crossing multiple tributary streams and traversing the length of Sublime Point Ridge. The steady uphill climbs were challenging and the deep swift streams difficult to ford, but, we persevered, relishing the experience of being out in the wild, off the grid, with no contact with the outside world. Our spirits were soaring and we felt at one with the grand beauty of the entire universe. 

Translation: I think we had some bad water the night before as we were both hallucinating a bit as we strolled along the track, quickly meeting the fire track. We had some crazy vision that we were explorers, pushing the limits of human endurance and discovering great inner depths of grit and determination in each other, but, I'm pretty sure we were actually just having a pleasant walk along an easy track with nice views. Every so often, we took our shoes off and waded across a slowly flowing stream which really felt nice on our hot feet. 

Grow straight, grow strong, be a tree

SM Speak:  At Dardenelles Pass we had to use all our considerable navigational skills to find a rough track which led to the steep and unremitting climb out of this wild, wonderful and remote valley. In the past, people have missed the faint junction and have been lost for days in this harsh and unforgiving environment. As we climbed the final steep and challenging series of almost 1,000 steps that would lead us back to the "real" world, we reflected on our life-changing experience. We had entered this vast wilderness as children and were leaving as adults. Our lives would be forever altered by the profound and moving experiences we had while off the grid. 

Translation: A new sign saying "This Way Out" has been mounted at the trail junction that leads up to the Golden Staircase. Apparently, the bogans were missing the junction and wandering about in the bush for hours necessitating more expensive search and rescue operations. The Golden Staircase was clogged with heavy tourists brandishing iphones mounted on selfie sticks who walk down and take the cable car back up.  It was all thoroughly disheartening.  The only thing that made coming back to civilization tolerable was thinking about how we could spray and gramme about our "expedition" and convince a bunch of simpering sycophants to "like" our images and tell us how badass we were.

 Breathe, believe, then jump

So there you have it, a thorough and honest translation of social media speak. Now, the next time you read some trite platitude about how you can grow wings and fly, be anything you want, take the world by storm, or, only know how far you can go by going too far, posted by some beautiful blonde lying in a hammock in the middle of the day, you'll know they aren't really a legit badass, just another ordinary human being who thinks they are a special little snowflake who wastes 5.5 hours per week taking a series of selfies and seeking approval from a bunch of people they don't personally know and probably wouldn't like if they did.

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