Monday, March 3, 2008

Under Down Under Tour - Day 3

Cradle Mountain! This was the BEST of all my 5 days on the tour... Cradle mountain was SPECTACULAR, guys. First, before we even got to the mountain, we picked up another 5 people who joined onto our tour... (hah! They had no idea what they were in for!)

It was another 5-hour hike day, and this one was SO much more challenging than the first 5-hour hike... this mountain was TOUGH. There were so many loose rocks that it seemed to be really dangerous... if you weren't an expert mountain scaler like myself. (or... just very careful... like myself... hahaha)

It was FREEZING cold in the morning... not a good sign when you are going up to do some mountain climbing. But... being the trooper that I am, I put on my warmest clothing (not very warm at all) and didn't complain about the cold... much. :)

Anyhow, here is a picture of Cradle Mountain from the distance... Soon enough you will see views FROM the mountain!

And, just for fun, I'll throw myself in front of that view:

That was my warm outfit.

So, the hike/climb to get up to the mountain was killer. So much of it was uphill, and with loose, gravely rocks... there were points where you had to use chains to haul yourself up the tougher rocks to climb... Actually, it seemed like more of the hike was actually CLIMBING than it was walking along any trails! And the cold... the cold...

Here is a picture of one of the harder bits to handle... but this isn't even the hardest one. This one didn't have chains to help us climb up... but yes, this picture below was an uphill climb...

neat, huh?

So, we did a few hours of climbing like that, and it was THEN that we reached Cradle mountain. In the picture below, if you look, you can see the trail that we did to get to the mountain... it's that little white line that runs all the way from the back, on the top of the mountain... across the mountain, onto another mountain... yep, we walked that! And we were only halfway finished here! More walking, walking... I guess I can't really say much about the walking besides that it was tough, it was cold, but it was beautiful. You really had to be there, the beauty that popped up with every lookout area... seriously, every time you reached a turn or a corner, you saw something even more beautiful that you saw on the last turn!

And as we got higher there was... SNOW in the mountain! I almost felt like I was in New Jersey!

Here is another beautiful scenic picture that I wanted to put myself in front of... doesn't it look like I just pasted myself in front of a majestic view? Nope, this is Cradle Mountain, folks.

It was about this area where we refilled our waterbottles with running water from a stream... it was all melted snow, pure, and clean... best water I ever tasted.

AND... because I am still in Tasmania... I saw another rainbow, up on the mountain. The picture doesn't do the rainbow justice, it was much brighter and easier to see than it showed up in the picture, but you can still see it. It did disappear a few minutes after this picture though...

Well, shortly after this rainbow picture, there was the 'downhill' trek to get OFF the mountain. Wow, downhill was so much harder than up... for me... I was NOT wearing proper mountain climbing shoes... I was wearing my Yoga Slides... yeah, I certainly gave them a beating! They didn't have much grip or ankle support at all... I slipped a couple of times at some of the tougher downhill spots... I know now that if I ever climb another mountain, I need to bring the proper foot gear. I made it down alive though!

OK... so after the mountain trip... we headed back to the hostel for dinner (one of the girls who were on the tour with us was wonderful enough to cook us a spaghetti dinner, it was DELICIOUS... especially after we had just gotten back from our death-defying mountain climb!)

Annoyingly enough, we ended up having to share our cabin-like hostel space with a huge group of rowdy and noisy 16-year old high schoolers... They were so tiny! I don't remember being that tiny when I was in high school! Hah, and of course, they thought they were oh-so-very cool... I had quite the chuckle when one of the little boys looks at me and says, 'How YOU doing?' (or something to that effect) with a little wink. I wanted to give him a little pat on the head as I walked by, but I refrained. Hahaha... kids.

And Lisa, what you have been not-so-patiently waiting for... we went to a wildlife sanctuary where we could see... TASMANIAN DEVILS!

Unfortunately, it's not too easy to see them in the wild anymore. They are all dying off because of a disease that is spreading through them like wildfire... a facial cancer that can be spread through just touching each other... and is fatal within 3-6 months. Since they discovered the cancer in the late 1990's, it has spread throughout 65% of Tasmania... and 50% or more of the Tasmanian Devil population has died... It's really sad. We learned all about this at the sanctuary... where they are keeping devils so they don't fall subject to the cancer. I got to pet one of them, and then we got to see a bunch of them fight over a carcass of some type (in their enclosure). They eat meat, whether they kill it themselves or they just find something dead or they steal dinner from another meat eater... and they don't really go around in groups, so they are always in competition with each other. Also, despite popular beliefs, they DON'T spin around fast in circles. Here is a picture of a young one:

The Tasmanian Devil thing lasted about an hour, and then those of us who shelled out the 25 dollars to see them headed back to the cabin... in the pitch blackness. Yeah, we didn't think enough to bring a flashlight... it was pretty freaky. The stars, though... were amazing. And... when we were at our mountain cabins... we saw a creature running around in the dark... For a while, we were SO sure it was a devil... "Look! A Tasmanian devil! Yes! Yes it is a devil! I know it!" but after we followed it around trying to get a better look, probably really annoying it... and we flashed our cameras at it for the tiny bit of light... we realized that it was a possum. Oh, bother. How awesome would it have been if we did happen to see a Tasmanian Devil on the way back from our Tasmanian Devil show?

Check out the picture... in the dark, you can see how we would have been confused, right?

OK, that is the end of day 3! Oh, and I know that this is getting ahead of myself as I haven't finished day 4 and 5 yet... but at the place where I stayed on the weekend after my tour, I learned that fairly recently, someone died from falling off of Cradle mountain. THAT is how tough the mountain could be, folks! Of course, this person was not smart enough to travel with anyone... he tried to go it alone... and he probably tried to scale the peak of cradle mountain... we didn't do that.

Tomorrow, I will do days 4 and 5! Hopefully! I have already spent about 25 dollars on internet updating these darn blogs.

13 comments: said...

wow, that was a LONG (but beautiful) hike. very pretty scenery pics. i really wish i was there to enjoy that natural beauty too. i love nature!!! lol

glad you got to see a taz devil. sad about the disease/cancer though.

and what are you talking about that they don't really spin around?? YES THEY DO!! TAZ is PROOF!!!! ;-)

Dad said...

Wow. Let me say that again. Wow. Fantastic pictures and unbelievably descriptive and detailed stories behind them. It's like we're there with you.

Cheryl said...

Ok so I had to do some googling because that picture didn't look like any possum *I* have ever seen. I discovered that it is indeed a "brush tailed possum" from the east coast of OZ. Neat!

enjoying my virtual tours btw!

PMH said...

You're right, Cheryl. That didn't look like the possum that comes up and eats out of our feeder. Cool...even their possums are prettier than ours.

Love the scenery! Don't know if I could have walked up that mountain though. You are going to have to buy yourself some proper shoes!

De'von said...

hi ant karen. thank you for the card. I miss you
De'von said...

fyi, he typed that ALL by himself!!!

Karen said...

Hahaha, you thought I lied about the Possum, eh Cheryl? I know, it didn't look like one that I had seen either, which is why I thought it was a Tasmanian Devil at first :)

Glad you guys like the pics. Where is Stacy? I miss her comments too! She needs to get a blog too so all the Hahn sisters can have them :) Miss everyone!

Karen said...

Wow! A message from De'von! :) I'm glad he got the card, did Richie too? Hi De'von! Miss you too! said...

wow, you must be on now, lol. yes, richie got his yesterday, and he loved it!
oh, and de'von just said "wow, she got the email already?" said...

on the down low, shhh don't let the "other" sisters see this.
de'von just said "i love aunt karen. she's the best aunt i ever had"

sorry stac and cheryl! aunt karen wrote de'von back, so now she is favored, LOL

Karen said...

Aww I was hoping they would all get it at the same time! I sent them in the mail at the same time! Hah, yes I am on now working on days 4 and 5, tell De'von that I love him too and Richie and I miss them both!

stacy122982 said...

Here I am! Sorry, with being out for Vegas, than out sick...I have been crazy busy at work (which is where I usually check)
Anyway...I that the possum looked like a cat.
And, you are going to have AMAZING legs when you get back from all the walking/hiking/climbing you are doing!!

samantha7420 said...

that looks nothing like the taz devil on tv!