Welcome back to my two-part blog post about my solo weekend! At the end of my last post, I found myself collapsing on my bed with thoughts in mind to continue my solo weekend in the mountains. At 5:00 AM the next morning, I jumped out of bed and got my hiking gear ready to go. The excursion out to the Blue Mountains consisted of an hour long train ride and a two-hour bus ride. This didn’t bother me at all because this gave me the opportunity to catch up on some sleep on the train and enjoy some awesome Australian radio on the bus. Once I arrived in the small town of Blacktown (one of the many establishments surrounding the Blue Mountains park), I could see the cliffs and trees in the distance.
The sky was clear and the air was crisp. The clear sky allowed the sun to reflect off of the chemicals of the eucalyptus trees, giving off the famous and subtle blue hue. The various hiking trails were gauged according to terrain, difficulty, and the quality of views. In an attempt to get as many views in as possible while also giving myself a personal challenge, I selected a path that had a variety of hikes. Since the beginning of the path began at the top of a cliff, there were thousands of steps that needed to be descended from. The first major landmark on my way down was the Three Sisters rock formation. Continuing down the stairs, I was passed by hundreds of runners. There was a marathon race through the Blue Mountains on the same day as my hike. I was not only astonished that runners could actually do this race, but that the park kept paths open for hikers! I tried my best to move to the side of the stairs when runners came by but the narrow staircases made it difficult sometimes. Once at the bottom, there was much more space for both me and the runners. It was a solid three-mile trek through the rainforest until I made it to another large set of stone stairs. It took me to the top of another cliff in the park which provided me with a magnificent view of the surrounding rock formations as well as the forest that sat below them.
After taking in the scenery, I continued my trek taking me along the cliffs and mountains. Me and other hikers continuously cheered on the runners as they passed us. I found myself back in the rainforest with the sun starting to fade behind the Three Sisters. Due to the fear of finding myself trying to hike back in the dark, I decided to take a gondola back up at the end of the trail. By the time I made it back to Blacktown, the race was ending and it was nearly night time. Exhausted and famished, I boarded one of the last buses back to the train station heading back to Sydney.
I trudged back into my apartment at around 11:00 PM. I dropped the empty bag of McDonalds that was in one hand and my hiking bag in the other, and I plopped on the sofa. In total, I climbed approximately 127 stories and hiked about 12 miles! With this in mind, I was not at all guilty about eating a ridiculous amount of McDonalds.
This solo weekend was one the highlights of my study abroad experience thus far. It was not just being able to experience the sites in and around Sydney, but it was being able to experience and discover it on my own. I was able to let go of all troubles and just enjoy these moments of being independent in a new environment. I hope to do more solo trips after finals which are coming up in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully they are not as exhausting as climbing 127 stories…