|Stopping for lunch at Burning Palms|
This passed Sunday we revisited Royal National Park with a family friend and attempted a five hour 9-10km hike from Otford lookout to Garie Beach. This is famed to be the best hike in south Sydney, and is one of the top five most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. We were uncertain that Ana and Lisa (both 4yrs old) would be able to complete the distance with many changes in elevation. In the end, going with another family was the absolute best decision of the trip. Both girls found more motivation in each other and were happy to hike along for the majority of the distance.
The trail conditions were of medium difficulty and extremely diverse, starting with rain forest and overgrown palm trees, followed by windblown Ausi taiga and sandstone beaches nestles between ocean cliffs. I found footing on the eroded taiga to be the most difficult. The trail was narrower than the width of an adult shoe and deeper than 1 meter in places. I imagined what it must have felt like to dig trenches of this nature in wartime and was thankful for my health and companionship. We stopped for lunch at Burning Palms beach around 1:15 and the girls took a quick dip in the ocean. From this point out, the views were wide open with no sun cover and three ascents/descents to Garie Beach. The last three kilometers were a constant up down trail, and with no access road we were lucky the girls saved enough energy for the last push. We completed the 10k in a little over five hours and drove back to the second car at Otford.
Hikes like these only come around once a year, and I've been feeling the healthy happy afterglow for the past two days. Several other hikers we passed along the trail could easily have traveled to NSW from a great distance simply to accomplish what we did in an afternoons drive from our home. We are so luck to live near the immense beauty of Australian wilderness. This will forever be what my heart aches for when we eventually have to move back to America.