I seem to only write a trip report in the depths of Covid restrictions. The last report I wrote was a trip I took at exactly the same time last year, the first few days of June. Perhaps as I am thinking about the wider world and how we interact with it? Or maybe as it is just because my red wine consumption goes up during these sorts of times and I get 'chatty'?!
I live in Regional NSW, in the foothills of the Barrington Tops which affords me the benefit of beautiful walking on my doorstep and many lovely snowy Wintry walks. Sometimes, my local area also offers frozen stuff hurling from the sky, but more the stinging, sleety kind rather than the fluffy white stuff. It was just such a weather prediction ahead of two midweek days off that prompted me to think about National Parks that were West of the fairly ordinary weather forecast. I had a trip planned to the Warrumbungles already planned for July, so had to get creative and think of something else less obvious. I took to reading my op shop copy of Gregory's NSW NP's and landed upon Mt Kaputar National Park, close to Narrabri, NSW. A quick reccie on the forum turned up some interesting ideas so I decided to leave on the trip, at 9pm the preceding night to potter about on the Skyline Traverse.
The drive was pleasant, open plains and rural scenery. I had downloaded a great podcast series so binged that while the hours whiled away. I arrived at around lunchtime and drove to some of the other walks in the park, only to find most were closed after wild weather in the days before. There were huge banks of snow at the sides of the road as I got up higher, much more still on the ground than I had thought there would be. After a quick look at some of the lookouts and my abandoned walk plans, I headed back down to Green Camp car park at the start of the Mt Yulludunida walk.
The formed track was steep and nice walking, plenty of steps and elevation gained in a short distance. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the designated walk and at the base of the Yulludunida Crater, it was a choose your own adventure from that point.
I skirted along the base for awhile, taking care along some of the slippery sections, water was still seeping out from the recent precipitation.
I then came to the point that I knew from my (limited) research, would be the optimal point to scramble up to the saddle between the two main peaks.
Having an irrational fear of heights, I always struggle with scrambling up or down anything with any hint of exposure. I knew rationally that the climb up was easy, the rocks had plenty of jutting out hand holds, that looked like dragon scales. They were solid and many, it was not hard to find somewhere to put your hand next. Yet, I still had adrenaline pumping through me and was having a stern, but encouraging conversation with myself as I picked my route and clambered up. Once safely up top in the saddle, I realised that my legs were shaking, this is something that has happened before when I feel a bit frightened, presumably from the surge of adrenaline.
The views were nothing short of spectacular, I think I will let my photos do the talking on that front. I spent the afternoon exploring the peaks to either side of the saddle, it was fun making like a mountain goat and climbing up,down,around and up and down some more,safely pushing my comfort levels with exposure.
After exploring along the crater in either direction, I decided I would camp off to the side of the saddle as it afforded views across to nearby Mt Ningadhun and would make a fabulous sunset location as well as close proximity to a scramble that would make a perfect sunrise vantage point. My choice of location would also allow me to get back to my car in a timely fashion to be home in time to do the school pick up run and make dinner for my family.
Sleeping real estate in my choice of location was some what limited,the fires of 2020 and recent rains had made for dense shrubby undergrowth and after searching around a bit I found a 'me' sized sleeping spot that was free of rocks and reasonably favourable with no real slope. Unfortunately my sleeping spot did not lend itself to situating my XMid easily around it, but I managed to McGyver up a creative solution for the pegs and shared my vestibule with some shrubs.
The clouds and flurries of snow had all but blown away and sunset was just pure magic with calm conditions. I ran from spot to spot taking it all in,before settling in with a cup of tea to watch the final show.
I settled in for the evening just as strong gusts of winds began. My tent was not optimally pitched, but seemed to be holding strong, so I drifted off to sleep. I was woken around 11pm by flapping of my tent that was louder than when I went to sleep- I soon found one of the corners had come unpegged, I reluctantly got out, found some rocks to hold the shrubs down and affix some extra line to in lieu of pegging that corner out. It held and I went back to a toasty and restful sleep.
Coffee watching the sunrise was as gorgeous as I had hoped. I chose a different route down the rock face than I had coming up and was pleased to find that my nerves were much more solid, I even paused halfway down just to chill out and take it all in. Once at the bottom I was able to see my route down had been significantly steeper than my route up, evidence that my confidence was in a much better place after managing my fears the day before. I was back down to my car at Green Camp within the hour and back on the road.
I left Mt Kaputar National Park, vowing to return and explore some more. My version of the skyline traverse , which was an up and down of it rather than a circuitous route was unexpectedly mind blowing, the views were superb and the scrambling enjoyable. I could see from my brief visit that there are many more interesting off track options and I am keen to spend some time exploring the ideas I have come up with.
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