|Three Sisters at Blue Mountain National Park|
5:20 in the morning is early. I don't understand how my TV friends can do the morning shift. When I hear that alarm clock go off when it's pitch black, I get angrier than Lewis Black at the RNC. The Blue Mountain National Park is a two-hour train ride northwest of Sydney. For all intents and purposes, the view in this mountain range is nothing spectacular. It pales in comparison to the Rockies or even the Appalachians. The tallest part of the mountain is just short of 4,000-feet. In comparison, Jackson Hole, WY, is around 10,450-feet. Even some of the locals downplay the significance or impressiveness of the Blues.
|Someone call John Lithgow|
Its signature spot is the Three Sisters, a group of three pointy formations right next to one another. It looks like a poor man's version of Bryce Canyon. It's a fantastic sight to see, but nothing quite as grand as the mountains we have in the U.S. Speaking of grand, there's a Grand Canyon in the park, but to compare the Aussie version to Arizona would be like comparing Joseph Conrad's writing to mine. Honestly, did Col. Kurtz's creator have a blog? That big-word-using bastard. What a tool.
|This will never get old.|
|I'm getting rope burn here.|
|Mid-air post-battery fiasco|
After a quick lunch of ham and Australian avocado sandwiches (their avocados spread more easily than our Cali ones), we trekked to the bottom of the Empress Canyon and changed into wetsuits and helmets. The wetsuits smelled like Sex Panther, more on this later. The river water was cold yet refreshing. We walked along a creek through the canyons, riding down several natural water slides, and jumping down multiple rocks into shallow pools of fresh water. It was an incredible sensation, and I recommend it to anyone who gets the chance.
|Can you smell the wetsuit?|
|Camera appears to have water damage|
|Seriously, can you smell those suits?|
As we maneuvered our way through the canyon, we ultimately reached our 99-foot waterfall. I started abseiling down the right of the waterfall, which was super slippery, and lost my footing a couple times. At the halfway point, there's a small ledge to reset yourself, then you abseil down the face of the waterfall. It's blinding, rearranged my contact, and just pummeled me. It's a little unnerving because you can't see anything but suddenly feel the cliff right next to you. You're absolutely clueless as to where you are. The key is to keep your butt nice and low and have you legs practically even with your waist, but it's tough when the waterfall is slapping you in the face like a random French guy challenging you to a duel. When you reach the bottom of the falls, you pull yourself along another rope Sly Stallone "Cliffhanger" rescue-style. Ultimately, this waterfall abseil was one of the most invigorating and memorable moments of my entire trip.
|View from top of waterfall|
|This is not me|
Afterwards, there was a nice 10-foot rock jump, which I did about four times. When I see rocks and water, I feel like I'm 12 and just have the insatiable urge to jump. The climb back out of the canyon was more strenuous than I would've liked. The path and stairs are practically 90 degrees.
|I'm doing Shooter McGavin here|
After the canyoning, I walked with an English backpacker to the Three Sisters and grabbed a meat pie and pint of Magners Light at an Irish pub called Harp & Fiddle. This English chap was a fine gentleman, recently laid off so he decided to travel, and I kept asking him to give me some UK slang. The only thing I remember is "pucker," which means "great." The problem is "pucker" in other slang means "anus." Sadly, this is a term I doubt I will use.
|Does that chalk pint taste pucker... or like pucker?|