May is a nice time of the year to head out to Mt Solitary. Its an easy mountain to get to and once on top, there are plenty of things to see and the most amazing views. I had put a walk on the SUBW program and had three others make up the party. They were Chris, Iris and Craig.
We set out on Saturday morning from the Golden Stairs carpark on Narrow Neck. On the way down the stairs, we were met by many runners coming in the opposite direction – running up the stairs (well to be truthful, few were actually running). They were on a 100 km fun run. We were to see them again later on the walk.
Once down on the main track to the Ruined Castle, we left the runners behind. Quiet was regained. But only temporarily, there began a chorus of bird calls. Craig, a keen bird spotter pulled out his binoculars to see as well as hear.
It didn’t take long to reach the Ruined Castle turn-off and we headed up a short hill and then along a ridge to the Castle itself – a large rocky outcrop. We met a few other parties of walkers on top, and unfortunately one of the walker’s cigarette smoke – which we all later remarked upon – and not favourably!
The Castle gave us a good view of Mt Solitary and the greater Jamison Valley. One of the other walkers, was a former teaching colleague, George, and we said hello and had a chat before moving off. From the Castle, we kept traversing and climbed down to regain the track on its way to Mt Solitary. Then across a saddle and up the rocky ridge to the top of the mountain. This is a nice ridge indeed.
The track involves some easy scrambling up through small cliffs. Nothing hard, but certainly enjoyable. And the bonus is – as you ascend the views get better and better and better. As it was a calm, clear sunny day what more could you ask for? It was so pleasant that we wanted to extend this part a bit – so we stopped for lunch on a nice ledge.
Continuing on, it was not far to the top and the nice casuarina forest section, then a short descent to the head of Chinaman Gully. Here, we dropped packs and walked a short way out to a lookout giving extensive views to the south. We could see – Lake Burragorang, the Blue Breaks, The Kowmung Valley with Mt Colong grandstanding in the far distance and then the Gangerang Range (both Low and High sections) and Kanangra Walls. An awesome view that you can not see from Katoomba or Leura.
As we walked, it was disturbing to find pink coloured paint recently daubed over rocks and trees. An attempt at marking the track? I hope not! The path is already very clear and easy to follow. Perhaps it was done by a walker with a very poor sense of navigation and worried by the Jamie Neale story, and left a set of markers so they could follow them back and not get lost? A real shame. Vandalism.
We then continued with out traverse, and soon arrived at our campsite at Singa Jingawell Ck. We set up tents and tarps, collected some firewood and once again enjoyed the views. The advantage of our campsite was that it has water in a very convenient creek – only a few metres away (and it was flowing water too!), and plenty of sheltered sites and all this only a few metres away from the cliffs and the amazing view of the Jamison Valley to the north.
A pleasant evening was had, sitting in front of a fire. While we cooked, we could watch a procession of little lights, signs of lots of people, hundreds of people, making their way below the cliffs on the north side of the valley. They were the headlamps of the fun runners, with a few more kilometres to go before their run was over. From our vantage point they looked like a trail made by ants. We hoped they were enjoying themselves as much as we were as we sat back and finished our food and wine.
Chris gave us a tour of the clear night sky – pointing out some planets and globular clusters which were easily visible with Craig’s binoculars.
I was hoping the next morning would herald a mist filled Jamison Valley. Unfortunately we were greeted at dawn with a leaden sky. There was only a tiny bit of mist, and rain looked possible. But during breakfast a few sunbeams came down and lit up the Valley of the Waters – a loverly section of the Jamison Valley near Wentworth Falls.
Then it was pack up and stash the packs in a cave, and head out to the Col -a lookout on the eastern edge of the plateau. It was not far – and it also gave us the opportunity to sign the logbook.
Back to the packs, and back towards the Golden Stairs. It was the same path as we had followed the day before, but going in the opposite direction – things look different. So it was not boring – but rather another delightful walk.
Thanks to Chris, Iris and Craig for good company on the walk.