Friday, December 6, 2002, Debra Copp

Great train ride on the Ghan last night. Good to have good food, wine, and enjoyable conversation. We are in Alice Springs to begin our next journey.

Miles our AAT Kings Guide is very knowledgeable-we are learning just about Beckys friend sm.jpg (38925 bytes)everything of the Northern Territory, Australia. First stop the airport to drop off Mervyn who left our group to return to NZ. Then we took a very pretty ride to Kings Canyon with a stop to see dromedary camels. There are 8000 wild camels, which are also exported to many countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, & Egypt!

I find it interesting to learn that there are four main languages of the aboriginal people; that most are Christians and have several ordained ministers (Lutheran I think). Would have not thought that possible for these people.

We saw where the fires have burned and were the rain has renewed life. Quite a contrast, stark destruction and new growth. Australia is a place of stark contrasts. Again Miles tells us the stories about the people who discovered this land which are awe-inspiring. Took a lot of courage and faith to pull that one off.

I have to finish this later as the day is so jam packed with things to do, swimming, hiking canyon rim trail and washing a load of clothes. Now our room looks like the Chinese laundry—clothes everywhere. Hike was spectacular with awesome colors provided by the setting sun. Meal is splendid as well. An early rise (5:00am-ugh!) For another hike! All for now.

Friday Evening and Saturday Morning Hike, December 6-7, 2002 Nelson Copp

All of us jumped on the bus and headed out to Kings Canyon to do the canyon floor hike. Miles has an amazing memory and seems to know every plant, bush, tree, and animal we come across.

Many of us likened Kings Canyon to several canyons we have hiked in the desert southwest back home. Moderately high cliffs of red cross-bedded sandstone. The recent fire swept through the lower part of the canyon taking with it some bathroom, a covered area, and many plants. We smelled the fragrant mint and lemongrass and communed with a few nearby kangaroos.

The sun broke through the clouds as we neared the end of the hikeable part of the canyon, bringing out the bright red of the cliffs towering overhead. The trail used to go farther but is cut short to preserve the natural watering areas up canyon. We then headed back to the hotel for a big buffet.

Saturday morning ten adventurous (or crazy) souls got up at 5:00 AM to have a quick breakfast and head up to Kings Canyon with our guide Miles for the famous "rim walk". The first kilometer or so is straight up a fairly steep slope with natural rock steps. Fortunately the sun that had recently come up was behind the cliff and then behind some clouds saving us from direct heat for awhile. Once up the steep section we followed a winding route amongst beehive shaped rock domes and linear cracks formed in the reddish colored sandstone. Hoodoos and gargoyle looking outcrops graced the tops of the rocks and created almost a Notre Dame effect.

We stopped at several canyon overlook points that provided wonderful glimpses down into the red canyon we had hiked through just the evening before.

We headed down and across steep, shallow wooden stairs and walkways that eventually led us to the "Garden of Eden": a beautiful slot in the rocks where a deep pool of dark water invited people to slip in and cool off. Various birds were serenading us and letting us know we weren’t alone.

Several other groups arrived and proceeded to change clothes and jump in the cool pool. We could see others peering over the edge way up on the cliffs above. We hiked back up the stairs and took our place on the rim looking down at the cool refuge below.

Hanging over Kings Canyon.jpg (76046 bytes)A final stomach first crawl to the edge of the towering cliff on "big bum rock" gave us a frighteningly high look into the canyon far below. On the way down, several of us took a small side trip with Miles, our guide, to see some pictographs. Aborigines had apparently put ochre in their mouth and spit it out across the back of their hand which they held on the rock surface. A nice shaded outline of their hands resulted. We saw a Rock Wallaby that quickly hopped away from us as we neared the site. We hurried our way down the ridge as the heat was getting worse.