For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8 I’m a pretty intentional person. I generally know what I’m doing, where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. But for a long time I didn’t leave enough space in my life for spontaneity. I missed out on things because I scheduled life so tightly – also a challenge for someone who likes to say “yes” to everything. Moving to Queensland has been great for creating space. I don’t have that many friends here so there are less social engagements and I also have fewer weekly commitments. Further, moving to Queensland has opened up a new patch of Australia to explore. And I’ve been waiting months for the weather to cool down enough to start hiking the hinterland areas. Yesterday morning I looked at the forecast and saw it was going to be sunny for the next 2 days. And coming off a 3 day work trip I had intentionally not made plans on Friday night to recover from the tiredness. (I know, who have I become?!) So a few quick texts to my friends and we made plans to hike to Mt Warning or Wollumbin just over the border in NSW on Saturday morning. Wollumbin meaning patriarch of mountains, or later named Mount Warning by Lieutenant Cook on his first sail past in May 1770, is an 1157m ancient volcanic plug. It’s also the first place on the Australian mainland to be touched by sunlight, a popular sunrise hike. And to do it properly, we set out from Brisbane at 2am (!) arriving at 4am (!) to start the 4.5km, +650m gain climb to the top for first light and sunrise. It’s been years since I’ve done a hike by torchlight and it was fun to charge up the mountain only ever seeing 2 steps ahead. We overtook a number of people and made it to the top in 1hr30m only to be greeted by 2.5 degree temps and 30km/hr gusts. It was the Catch 22 of the clear sky and close to full moon. And there we stood for an hour waiting for sunrise on a platform wedged at the top of the mountain. And slowly the light appeared, the distant lights of Surfers Paradise, Tweed Heads and down to Cabarita fading as the largest light crept up and poked its head over the Pacific Ocean horizon. And suddenly the faces of those around us were clear and vastness of our surroundings made known.  Unfortunately there were 50 or so others, many much taller than me, so although I wasn’t the first to see sunrise… (#dadjoke) it was pretty amazing to take in the 360 views. And within an hour or so after sunrise, the visibility became more than 100km with the Brisbane CBD visible in the distance. And then finally the wind and cold became unbearable to we headed back, to discover all that we’d passed in the darkness.     Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen this picture. It’s on bucket lists everywhere. Haʻikū stairs, otherwise known as the ‘Stairway to heaven’ – a 3922 step vertical climb up the side of a mountain.  Sounds awesome, right? As soon as this trip was booked I began researching. Blogs, forums, hiking websites; I was there. I found out it was illegal as it involved trespassing on government land. Since 2013 a guard patrolled the bottom of the stairs issuing infringement notices of $300. Still not deterred. I knew the times the guard was posted and the times they changes shift.  But then two weeks ago it happened. A landslide. It took out the stairs in three places! I was devastated. I began researching alternative routes up to the WW2 radio tower at the top. Where this hike has stairs to the top, the alternative ridge lines only had ropes. Not heaps safe. My dream died. (Second photo: That’s the tower at the top of the ridge line on the right near the edge of the could. Epic!) On Saturday Laura and I did a tour to kayak out to Mokoliʻi, a conical shaped island fondly named ‘Chinaman’s Hat’. After some research in to the tour company, I suspected we may be the only ones on the tour. And right on cue a beat up red truck with only three kayaks on the trailer pulled into the beach park. The driver? Why of course, a 24 year old guy student, working in a food truck and doing tours on the side. Awesome! The tour was great and relaxed (bar a foot injury for Laura and a nice gash on my shin!). After mentioning we were keen for some hiking and finding out the Haiku stairs post-landslide now come with a $600 infringement notice and 30 days jail time, he started suggesting alternatives. Although he never strayed from his keen-ness and intention to go hiking tomorrow too. Fast forward a day and we found ourselves in Ka’a’awa waiting for our new friend Dave and his mate – Trey. The crouching lion or Pu’u Manamana was our chosen challenge.  The 6km track with 600m elevation almost immediately. “Pu’u Manamana is a popular but challenging ridge hike that tests your nerves and tolerance of dangerous situations. It is mostly known on the island as being “one of the most dangerous hikes on the island”. It is pretty intense but the views up there were some of the best on the island.” Source Forgetting island time and growing impatience for our 30-minute late hiking buddies, Laura and I set off as per the blogs instructed. “The trail head is between the ‘do not pass’ sign and the telegraph pole.” Sound legit? More legit then these legit trail markers. Signs? Pfft, no. Pink ribbon is how tracks are marked in Hawai’i. Under some trees, over a few others and we were off. Until Dave called within five minutes and we backtracked 100m of elevation and restarted the hike at a different track head – as questionable as the previous. And within a few minutes we had expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. Not pictured: our 150+ BPM heart rates.  We were pretty thankful for Dave and Trey at this point after commandeering our backpacks, becoming our personal photographers and safety extraordinaires. By that, I mean, they assured us we’d be fine as we scaled over and around rocks with drops on either side…   Another ridge line, another rock climb. Almost at the top just in time for the cloud cover to be burning off! The various peaks we scaled up and over. The top! Woo! I couldn’t get over how awesome the mountains were. So green. So jagged. The ridge lines so narrow. Good thing there was little wind! The water, well, it’s just so clear! Once at the top we enjoyed the views and recorded some Snapchat vids for Dave and Trey’s mates. It seems young men are the same irrespective of the continent they live on. The walk back down was pretty cool with views of Kawa’a’wa and Kahana Bay. You can see almost up to Laie on the North Shore. See personal tour guide! Apparently another illegal hike is tucked in the Kahana Valley, ‘Sacred Falls.’ Trey was unlucky to get caught recently and issued with a court date and $300 infringement notice.  It seems an island full of mountains invites exploration! (Note: the extreme descent!) Can you see the crouching lion? Looks a little like Bella… Keen to get into some caves, Laura and Dave did some climbing. Spot Laura on the rocks just left of the breaking waves. Ignore the awkward perch. The rock was super spiky. It seems lycra provides no padding. Go figure. One of the best views of the walk. We went about a third of the way along the top ridge line before heading back.   A few standard mountain top photos. And yes, that is Laura jumping on a rock about 30cm diameter with 250m falls on both sides. Then down again! We made friends with the plants after a few slips and slides and then out through some long (!) grass and on to the main road around Oahu. And a final happy snap with our new friends Dave and Trey. It was so good hiking with people who knew the area and made the sketchy rock climbs seem a little less, ah, sketchy.   Mahalo! Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)