A new adventure
As winter was starting to set in and temperatures to drop down, I wasn’t doing much on my weekends. For the one who know me well enough, you can imagine that I can’t stay that long without a little bit of adventure.
Luckily for me, this is when I started to chat with Dan from @hikeandseek through Instagram. Always in search of adventure he told me he was going to Donkey Mountain with some friends in a few days and asked if I wanted to join. Of course!
To be honest I wasn’t that enthusiastic when my alarm clock woke me up slightly before 5am on a Sunday morning. I still want to sleep! But I don’t want the group to wait for me so after packing up what I needed for the day, I’m on my way to the train station. I can already feel the cold as my phone displays 5 degrees. Half an hour later it’s 6am and after meeting each other, we’re ready to start our journey towards the Blue Mountains.
Donkey Mountain and the Gardens of Stone National Park
To be more specific, Donkey Mountain is part of the Gardens of Stone National Park in the Wolgan Valley. That’s a bit further north from the Blue Mountains National Park and a fair ride from Katoomba as it took us about one hour to reach the start of the hike. You won’t especially see any donkey there or rocks with the animal’s shape. Its name actually comes from the first person who hiked the mountain: he was riding a donkey. It’s that simple!
Alright, we’re now about to start the hike. I can tell you the first thing you feel early morning in a mountain area it’s the cold: -1 degree! We were two, brave enough to have opted for a short instead of pants – and I was starting to wonder if that was the smarter choice at this very moment. But it turns out that the first part of the walk is very challenging and I was warming up quite quickly. There is almost no path and it’s mostly through bush we started our ascent. That’s also when Dan told me two years ago they got lost in the mountain and had to spent the night up there – it would have been worth mentioning earlier don’t you think?! At least I knew he went there already and should now know where to go.
The slope is now very steep and even involves some climbing as we came closer to the summit. There is not a real summit actually as the top of the mountain is flat with many canyons to explore – that’s when I realized why they got lost in there the first time. This place is a true maze! Once up there we walked through a mix of canyons, pagodas, cliffs, caves and dense vegetation. We had to find our way through very narrow paths and sometimes climb some rocks before reaching each lookout. But that what makes the beauty of place.
All lookouts were offering a different view of the Wolgan Valley, each of them as stunning as the others. The various rock formations we saw along our way amazed us all. Speaking of which, one of the most iconic places is the “Grand Hall”. Each adventurer who came to visit the place can leave a few words on the logbook safely located in box there. We all left a little note of our experience right there, what a great idea!
Ending the day perfectly
To play it safe we started to look for our way down about two hours before the sunset. You might think that going down is much easier but it wasn’t. With all unstable rocks and the slippery ground we had to be careful to where we set foot. We eventually went back to the car while seeing the sun disappearing behind the mountains around us.
To perfectly end the day and as we were driving back to the city, we saw few wombats along the road feeding on fields. That was an exhausting but such an amazing experience to discover a new area around Sydney!