Pigeon House Mountain, Morton National Park
The Didthul Walking Track doesn’t sound like an insurmountable task considering it is only 2½ kilometres (1.5 miles) in length, but although the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website states the walk takes 2½ hours, it doesn’t say the specified time might be what it takes to conquer the track in the upward direction only.
That’s right. 2½ hours walking up. Up steps, up and over roots and logs and planks of wood, up a cruel incline, and finally up a cliff face and the first ‘hard’ graded walking track Dean and I have ever tackled.
Others may be able to accomplish reaching the summit in a shorter period of time, but I certainly couldn’t. This was a difficult walk that was naturally, and thankfully, broken into four distinct sections.
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The first section is a steep climb from the car park/picnic area to the first cliff line. I found this first stage a bit tough and constantly stopped to steady my breathing. By the time we reached the cliff line, I was ready for a short break and enjoying the view was well worth it.
Here was the first place where we could clearly see our destination and at this point I thought “How am I ever going to make it up there?” I think at this stage we weren’t even half way.
The second section is a flat walk that gently, and ever so slightly, undulates and extends approx. 1 kilometre (0.6 miles). The featured image above was taken along this section where the walking was pleasant and easy. There were plenty of winter flowering plants to enjoy along this section such as Golden Wattle and Hairpin Banksia, and I could easily imagine how pretty it would be in spring when all the other plants are in bloom.
Before long, this section met up with the next section of the track where the climb begins again.
This third section is steep, steeper by far than the first stage and I felt as though it covered just as much ground, with endless steps that twist and turn back and forth up the side of the mountain.
The incline here was difficult and I only accomplished it by constantly stopping, waving Dean off as he patiently (or perhaps, impatiently) waited for me to start climbing again. The going was tough and slow, but before long I could clearly see the final section, the base of the pinnacle.
This fourth and final section is a climb up 13 sets of steep steel steps attached to the cliff face (two of which are ladders) that lead you straight up to the summit of the mountain.
I wasn’t able to tackle these without resting, three times I’m (almost) embarrassed to say, but I was not the only person who struggled. With so much energy spent simply arriving at the base, thank goodness for a little packet of almonds, sultanas and choc chips that provided the burst of energy to surmount this final challenge.
Just a short walk around the edge (and up the final two sets of steps) brings you up to the summit proper, with an old trig station marking the spot where you can enjoy sweeping views to the north west.
It was so windy it was virtually impossible to stand there so we worked our way back to the eastern side (out of the wind) and sat and enjoyed our lunch before beginning our descent.
Although it took us (ok, me) 2 ½ hours to reach the top, getting down was accomplished in 1 hour and 20 minutes and we both let out pent-up sighs as we sat down in the car seats.
I’m really proud to say I’ve now completed a hard walking track. The conquest of the ascent was equal only to the triumph of remaining upright while descending and I’m pleased to say neither of us rolled down the side of the mountain on our way back to the car. This however may be due only to a lot of concentration, constantly watching where each foot was placed, and occasionally reaching out to grab onto a sapling on the way past.
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Just to show what else I had to deal with while tackling this walk.
I realised Dean was getting a little frustrated with my slow pace when he said “Come on! There’s only 16 hours of sunlight and we have to get back to the car before it’s dark.”
I replied “Actually, at the moment there’s less than 11 hours of sunlight each day and four of them are already gone.”
Dean just laughed and said “Then we better RUN!”