Sunday, 1 January 2012

Trekking the Mount Lofty Pass

It is over ten years ago since my good friend Daryl suggested that we should both tackle a walk to the top of Mount Lofty, the tallest and only significant mountain close to Adelaide. I guess at that stage in our lives we had the ominous feeling that middle age spread was beginning to set in, so we were both looking for interesting options to improve our fitness. A trek up a misty mountain in the early hours of the morning had a certain challenging appeal! We knew that the Waterfall Gully to Mt. Lofty walking track had been there since the pioneer days of South Australia, rambling upward to the summit, providing a 7.8km round trip walk. At that time the trail had remained relatively unchanged, despite the fact that many an intrepid hiker had tackled the steep slopes over the years. As we found out for ourselves, the narrow path weaved through gum trees, over rocks and across mountain streams, occasionally providing tantalizing glimpses of the flat pains below. At the summit we were rewarded for our efforts with a spectacular 180-degree panoramic of the city and surrounding area, as well as coastal views across Gulf St.Vincent through to Yorke Peninsula on a clear day.

Over the years Daryl and I had always enjoyed this leisurely walk and in between huffing and puffing, it allowed us time to talk and reflect upon the events of the day. We solved many of the world’s problems on that trail, while also seeking each other’s opinion on life’s big issues. Whether it was in the scorching heat of summer or the drizzly depths of winter, we regularly enjoyed the picturesque walk and it remains a ritual that I have missed since we moved overseas. On this trip home, Daryl and I again tackled the trail, both a little older, but no less enthusiastic. To be honest, the trek is a little different today than my ‘watercolour memories’ of it from all those years ago. It has clearly become much more popular and as a result has subsequently undergone considerable upgrades. The rocky, uneven tracks that I remember, have now been widened and paved in many areas to cope with the increased foot traffic, with seats and resting points along the way. New generations of hikers, fitness fanatics, nature lovers, tourists, families and friends have been introduced to the this unique walking trail and not surprisingly it has now developed into one of Adelaide’s most popular natural attractions. From our traveling experience, its close proximity to the city still remains quite unique on the world stage and with an easy 15 minutes drive from the city, it provides a seamless transition from the suburbs into natural bushlands. However, in order to admire the stunning view you will need to work a little harder than that! Although the trail is not too punishing, it is challenging enough and in the end, if your prepared to give it a go, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the outlook or the satisfaction you will feel as you head down the somewhat easier down hill run.

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