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A group photo taken whilst walking down Black Range

6 Foot Track: An all Aussie Adventure

Story by: Mark Henderson

Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_onthemoon

Often, when we consider the word adventure, we think of far off places; places yet to be explored or discovered. Rarely, do we consider that we, in Australia, live in one of the most beautiful and unique places on the planet.

However, Australia offers many opportunities for adventure. We have oceans, desert, rainforests, and vast landscapes, often untouched by people.

Recently, I was privileged to join an adventure, here in our own backyard.

The adventure, dubbed the 6 Foot Track Trek, runs for 46 kilometres from the Jenolan Caves, through to Katoomba, took place in the historic Blue Mountain’s, located one and a half hours from Sydney CBD, which makes it fairly accessible to anyone interested in tackling it.

Let by expedition leaders, Shane Pophfer and Darren Wise of Peak Potential Adventures, the 6 Foot Track Trek took myself and a small group of adventurers along a trail blazed by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, and William Charles Wentworth in 1813, as part of their journey across the Blue Mountains.

The trail itself was beautiful. There was lush scenery, as we carved our way up the mountains, and down into valleys, travelling from the magnificent Jenolan Caves right through to Katoomba. We saw little rivers, and were captivated by the wildlife, with birds, wallabies and even wild cows making their homes in the mountains.

Despite the beauty, 45 kilometres is a tough ol’ slog, even across two days.

On day one, myself and five other wannabe adventurers arrived at Katoomba to meet our guides and the team. We were bright eyed and bushy tailed, despite arriving at Katoomba for 6am.

From Katoomba, we drove across to the beginning of the 6 Foot Track at the Jenolan Caves. Arriving at Jenolan, I was in awe of the place. The natural land formations, and the way the morning light broke through and lit up inside of the caves was fairly breath-taking, as was the beginning of our hike, albeit in a very different way.

We started on the trek, leaving from Jenolan Caves at around 7:45–8am on Saturday morning, getting on our way to an Eco Lodge rest stop at Coxs River, about 30 kilometres away.

Day one was intriguing. We got to see so much, and everyone chatted away, happy to be out on an adventure.

Like every adventure though, the trek had its challenges. It wasn’t quite a stroll in the park, as at points along the trail, we were forced to walk up hills, and then down again into valleys. Early on in the piece, it was nice when the downhill sections came up.

They’d give you a chance to catch your breath and to enjoy some of the scenery. However, as the journey continued and the aches and pains began to set in, I started to detest the downhill parts. However, I pushed through, and I’m glad I did.

On, that first day, we worked hard, pushing ourselves close to our limits, until at one point, around 20 kilometres into the trek, we came upon what our expedition leaders called Heartbreak Hill.

It was a series of steep hills, that never seemed to have an end. We just walked up, and then up, and then up, and it truly did break your heart.

However, upon reaching the peak of heartbreak hill, the views were glorious, and I was awash with an overwhelming feeling of achievement. It was brilliant.

 

From Heartbreak Hill, we continued, mostly downhill, until we came to the Eco Lodge at Coxs River at around 4pm, and I tell you what, the Eco Lodge was certainly a sight for sore eyes.

There are bunk beds with all blankets and pillows provided, and believe me after a 30-kilometre hike through the mountains, a bed is a very welcome sight. There is also a pit toilet, and after having to hold on all day, unless you were some of our team, who were happy to dig a hole while on the trek, a pit toilet (despite the smell) is an absolute luxury.

Near the Eco Lodge, there were a few private pools, and being the nice guy that I am, and being part of a nice team of adventurers, the young couple who run the lodge took us down to a secret spot, and allowed us the opportunity to relax and clean the dirt and pain from the day off. The rocks, made of a naturally occurring granite also trap some of the heat from the sun, so we were able to relax, and take full advantage of a sneaky, naturally occurring hot rock treatment, which was really well received.

After day one, the Eco Lodge helped heal and relax the body, bringing me back to life and after a great night sleep, I was ready for day two.

We were up early on day two, and hit the trek at around 8am, with the knowledge that there was only around 15 kilometres left.

About one kilometre or so into day two, we came to our first real challenge of the day, a swing bridge, which was situated around 15-20metres above the flowing water beneath.

Personally, I’m fine with heights, and was keen to tackle the bridge. In fact, it was one of my favourite parts of the trek. It bounced and swung ever so slightly, and for the avid photographers on the team, it made for some great pictures.

However, not everyone was quite as okay with heights as I was, and we had a few worried faces crossing over. For some of the team, the bridge was one of the realest challenges on the 6 Foot Track Trek.

From there, we moved on, eventually coming into the beautiful Megalong Valley. Now, if you ever travel to the Blue Mountains, I vigorously recommend acquainting yourself with the Megalong Valley – it is mesmerising. An open valley among mountains, littered with gorgeous fields and open spaces, as well as naturally occurring small creeks and river systems, it is a wonderful place.

As the name might suggest, Megalong, is just that, “mega long” and we trekked through it for quite some time on day two.

In fact, after Megalong, we only had a few kilometres until our final destination, and Katoomba.

As with many challenges, the hardest part of the journey is right at the end, and the 6 Foot Track trek was no exception.

Darren and Shane had both warned me throughout the journey about “Dummy Spit Hill”, which basically made up the last kilometre of the trek.

The name is a little deceptive, as “Dummy Spit Hill” is not really a hill, but rather a ridiculously steep set of stairs that climbs up the side of a mountain. It was by far the hardest part of the trek.

My legs wanted to give up, and I must have drank close to three litres of water making my way up that staircase. It was tough.

However, I don’t often get to feel the sort of elation I was thrilled to experience once I reached the top of those stairs, and made my way to the end of the trek.

It was a fantastic feeling.

The 6 Foot Track Trek was definitely a challenge that pushed me. I felt uncomfortable and worn out along the journey, but I also felt excitement and life. It was an awesome adventure and something that I will remember for a long time yet, and it was in my own backyard, which is really just an added bonus.

Next time, you feel as though you need an adventure, but need something close, and attainable, I would highly recommend pushing yourself and tackling the full 6 Foot Track, right here in Australia’s beautiful Blue Mountains.

The Peak Potential Adventures group photo with Megalong Valley and the Blue Mountains in the distance as they trek along the Six Foot Track

Six Foot Track Trek – A Real Aussie Adventure

Story by: Mark Henderson

Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_onthemoon

Peak Potential Adventures invites you to join us on a journey of discovery, as we trek through some of Australia’s most historic and beautiful landscapes on the Six Foot Track Trek.

Departing monthly, the Six Foot Track Trek is one of Peak Potential Adventure’s most achievable, fun, and accessible treks.

The challenge, which takes place in the historic Blue Mountain’s, located one and a half hours from Sydney CBD, takes adventurers across a trail blazed by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, and William Charles Wentworth in 1813, as part of their journey across the Blue Mountains.

Peak Potential Adventure’s expedition leader, Shane Pophfer describes the trek, “We sometimes call it the JENKAT because the trek runs from the Jenolan Caves (JEN) to Katoomba (KAT), and in its entirety, and the track is around 45 kilometres long,” said Shane.

“Although it might not be just as challenging as some of our other adventures, it definitely does test your resolve.

“I like to think of the Six Foot Track Trek as a trial run for some of our bigger adventures like Kilimanjaro and The Overland Track, as it helps to build confidence, but it is a challenge on its own, and when you complete it, there is a real sense of achievement — it’s rewarding,” Shane said.

In total The Six Foot Track Trek runs for two days over the weekend, with the team leaving the Jenolan Caves at 8:00am on Saturday morning.

“With Peak Potential Adventures, we aim to start the trek leaving from Jenolan Caves at around 7:45–8:00am, and on the first day we walk to the Eco Lodge at Coxs River, with our aim to arrive between 3–3:30pm, however, it is dependent on the team’s speed, but we like to get in there before 4:00pm,” Shane said.

“We spend the night at the Eco Lodge, get the fire going and enjoy some downtime at the lodge. It’s usually really good fun, and a great time to just catch up and chat about how the trek is going. We put a good feed on as well.

“The next morning, we aim to leave the Eco Lodge around 7:30am, trekking to our first stop at Megalong Valley which we usually get to around 10-10:30am. From there we take the final leg of the journey, aiming to get to Explorers Tree between 12:30-1:30pm, wrapping up there at Katoomba,” said Shane.

“Right at the end, we have one final challenge. We call it “Dummy Spit Hill”. It’s the one part of the trek that really does test your resolve, but I think it’s a really good feature to have right at the end, as it makes people work for it and challenges them – for us, it’s a fantastic finish and you get the finished feeling.”

Unlike other Peak Potential Adventure challenges, Shane believes The Six Foot Track Trek is something that anyone who is willing can tackle.

“One of the best things for people who want to attempt the trek is that we run a support vehicle for just about all of it, so if it does become too challenging, you are able to jump in for part of the journey. This way, we think it opens the trek up to anyone who wants to give it a go,” Shane said.

As part of Peak Potential Adventures Six Foot Track Trek, teams are limited to 10 to allow for a more personal and enjoyable experience.

“We honestly believe we offer the best program for this trek in Australia,” said Shane.

“As part of this, we try to make sure the trek manageable for everyone. We keep the numbers limited to 10 as we don’t want to clutter it, and we want to make sure we can be available for everyone.”

Much of the necessary gear will be provided by Peak Potential Adventures, however, it is important to wear comfortable walking shoes or boots, a jumper and warm pants, toiletries, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Morning tea, lunch, and a three-course dinner are provided on Saturday, while breakfast and lunch are provided on Sunday, as well as a variety of snacks throughout the two-day trek.

If you are interested in finding out more or joining Peak Potential Adventures on its historic Six Foot Tack Trek, you can find more information around the trek here.

Harnett Falls, The Overland Track, Tasmania
Harnett Falls, The Overland Track, Tasmania - a real Tasmanian adventure

Shane and Darren – Harnett Falls, The Overland Track, Tasmania

The Definition of a Tasmanian Adventure – Tassie Tuff Winter Challenge

We’ve been thinking about adventure. That’s not new but what is new is that we want to find out what adventure means to you.

We want your take on adventure and if you’re just beginning an adventurous journey – what do you want those choices to bring to your life?

The push is for more than a definition, we are looking for meaning, and yes, there is a difference. Today I reached for my 1979 edition Collins English Dictionary, (yep it’s old) to learn that adventure is:

  1. a risky undertaking of unknown outcome. 2. an exciting or unexpected event or course of events and 3. a hazardous financial operation or course of events.

Yeah, that’s not how we define it. We want to get you thinking and talking about adventure to inspire you to make choices that will see treks and expeditions become part of your life story.

Peak Potential Adventures is offering three very different adventure experiences in 2015 and building momentum on the development of more treks and expeditions. The Overland Track Tassie Tuff Winter Challenge (TTWC) is our newest trek and over the Christmas/New Year period we reflected on what we took from the trek and considered what the adventure could add to your life.

The Overland Track is a tough challenge; you have got to work for it. It’s designed to be a back-to-basics wilderness trek which means you carry everything, cook everything, clean everything and contribute to a team. It’s an adventure that offers the opportunity to learn how to operate effectively in the wilderness and is 70km of mental and physical challenges in an environment of remarkable beauty and diverse weather conditions. Big adventure!

Our experience of The Overland Track involved a really big push from the Nicholls Hut through to Cynthia Bay. It was around 27 kilometres and we had too much weight in our packs. That daily distance is not on the cards for the TTWC but what the adventure gave us in the wake of the challenges of that final day was this: life’s damn good and we are so lucky.

That feeling, that meaning, came as we sat in The Cynthia Bay Resort Cafe and ate a hamburger that was just magic, we thought it was the best hamburger we had ever eaten – now it probably wasn’t – but at that moment, after our six days on The Overland Track it was magic. Every sense was heightened and our appreciation of the simple things was so much greater. We had clarity of thought, we felt that life’s damn good and we are so lucky.

The experience of pushing yourself in challenging environments will make you see the world differently and appreciate the good in your life – even when times are tough. That is a little of what adventure adds to our lives and our take from the TTWC.

So we’ve shared – now let’s hear from you!

Please contact the Peak Potential Adventures Team at [email protected]  if you would like to receive a full information brochure.

Peak Potential Adventures is an authorised operator on the Overland Track Track issued by the the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

Kilimanajro Shira Camp Sunset
Kilimanajro Shira Camp Sunset

Mt Kilimanjaro, Shira Camp Sunset

Mt Kilimanjaro – Reasons to Climb

Mt Kilimanjaro stands in isolation and dominates the horizon near Moshi in Tanzania with its snow-capped peak pressing high into blue sky.

The desire to discover its majestic beauty drives more than 40,000 people every year to climb 5895 metres to the roof of the African continent.

It is a beacon that represents freedom to the people of Tanzania and nurtures an economy that is fuelled by the desire of men and women to summit the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

Mt Kilimanjaro delivers physical and emotional challenges in an environment of beauty. It rises from coastal scrubland and with every step gives its climbers an adventurous experience that includes lush montane forest, heather studded with giant lobelias, the chance to sight elephant, leopard, buffalo and primates during the ascent into an alpine desert of ice and snow that leads to the summit, Uhuru Peak.

The drive to summit Mt Kilimanjaro is individual but the Peak Potential Adventures team has learned of numerous reasons why people climb as they have guided its family of clients to Uhuru Peak. We want to reveal the experience of Mt Kilimanjaro to you and believe the stories of our climbers will inspire you to say ‘yes’ to an adventure with us.

We are proud to begin with Russ Holland. Take a moment to watch the video, ‘Defining Moment’ to gain an insight into the power of the Mt Kilimanjaro experience.

Peak Potential Adventures runs the Mt Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge to raise money for Make-A-Wish Australia to assist it to grant the wishes of seriously ill children. It is vital support and it is what compels many people to successfully summit Mt Kilimanjaro. So far we have given $108,000 and look forward to donating a great deal more in the coming years.

The strongest motivator for the journey to Mt Kilimanjaro is that it inspires life changes and transformation. The choice to say ‘yes’ to the climb is a catalyst and it delivers experiences that enlivens people. However, there are many other motivators for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro; fundraising, the need to mark a personal milestone such as graduation, retirement, marriage or divorce, and to celebrate and commemorate a life. In 2014 Peak Potential Adventures team member, Luke spread the ashes of his good friend, Scotty, who died on the summit in April 2009. Luke and Scotty’s story will also be one that we will share with you in the coming months.

The summit of Mt Kilimanjaro is a place for reflection, inspiration, and potentially a new beginning in life. Generally, people see the world in a different way after the experience. The famous saying by David McCullough Jr. is one we like to apply to the experience of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

The beauty of Mt Kilimanjaro is revealed to so many people each year because technically, it is one of the easiest of the Seven Summits to climb and is considered a trek more than a mountain climb. You don’t need ropes or technical climbing gear on Mt Kilimanjaro, which makes the climb accessible to anyone with little or no mountaineering experience. However, it is important to note that the easy accessibility of Mt Kilimanjaro also makes it dangerous. On average there are around 10 deaths on the mountain each year and of the 40,000 people who climb, only about 60 per cent make it to Uhuru Peak. Significantly, 100 per cent of Peak Potential Adventures climbers have stood at Uhuru Peak to experience the euphoria of summiting the mountain.

Mt Kilimanjaro will challenge you physically and mentally but the adventure will reward you with memories and experiences that will transform your perception of life.

Kilimanjaro Barranco Wall

Kilimanjaro, Barranco Wall

As the famous song by Juluka goes:

I’m sittin’ on the top of Mt Kilimanjaro

All my heart is yearning
Like a candle burning in the night
Seasons keep on turning
Sometimes hard to keep up the fight
I will climb the ancient mountain
I will find the last flicker of the light

Chorus:
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I can see a new tomorrow
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I cast aways all my sorrows
What a strange strange freedom
Only free to choose my chains
So hard not to weaken-
Just give up and walk away
I will climb the ancient mountain
I will find the last flicker of the light
Chorus:
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I can see a new tomorrow (oh follow me up)
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I cast away all my sorrows (oh follow me up)
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
It thrills me right down to the marrow (oh follow me up)
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I can see a new tomorrow
Um ho um
Chorus:
I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro
I can see a new tomorrow.
I’ve reached the sun.

So what are you waiting for? Say ‘yes’ to Mt Kilimanjaro and become part of our family of climbers.

(Editorial: Ainslee Dennis of Write Adventures; Images: Russ Holland of Russty Dutchman Photography)

Kilimanjaro Karanga Valley

Kilimanjaro, Karanga Valley

Kristen Forbes
Kristen Forbes, charity adventure

Kristen Forbes, Mt Kilimanjaro

Charity Adventure – One less thing on the bucket list.

It’s midnight, it’s below zero degrees, and I’m about to trek for several hours towards the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world for a charity adventure. Why? Why not!

I’m on my way to the “Roof of Africa” for this Mt Kilimanjaro charity adventure. For a week I have slept on the ground, once with a rock digging straight into my back. I’ve been trekking with six other teammates, one of which is my close friend who asked me to join her for this charity adventure in support of Make-A-Wish Australia.

I’m looking good – I haven’t brushed my hair for a week, my face is burnt, I have dirt under my fingernails that I’m pretty sure will have to be removed at the doctors and deodorant is no longer hiding the smell.

Before I went to bed I put on four pairs of pants, four shirts, three jackets, a beanie, a buff, two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks.

Am I comfortable?  Not even close. Physically the altitude has sucked all my energy and as we make our way up the mountain I feel like I have nothing to give. Mentally I’m battling; all I can allow myself to think is left foot, pause, right foot, pause, left foot, pause, right foot, pause. The slowest I have ever moved yet we are moving way to fast.

We have exceptional guides. They know when to stop and check on us, when it’s time to drink, when it’s time to eat and they know when it’s ok to push that little bit harder. They even realise when the team needs a boost, my story will always include the moment a song and dance was busted out on the side of a mountain in Africa.

As we gradually make our way up the steep terrain, (something that wasn’t in the brochure I definitely signed up for a more gradual rise), my head is pounding and waves of nausea hit me.

This is the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and I would want it any other way!

I’m one of the lucky ones, I made it to the top with feeling in my fingers and toes, although coming down is a totally different story and there may have been tears.

When people use the cliché “a trip of a lifetime” their absolutely right, and I was able to experience the trip with the ‘A team’. Our motto “Failure is not an option” guided us through some tough times but thankfully it didn’t really need to be said too often.

Shane Pophfer and Darren Wise from Peak Potential Adventures gave us an all hands on deck approach before the trip and were just a phone call away when we needed advice.

On the mountain, Shane lead the way or yelled encouragement from the back of the pack.

Our trip was well organised and I felt spoilt on the mountain, with popcorn and afternoon tea waiting for us when trekking wrapped up each day. And the best surprise was having our very own toilet. It’s all about the simple things.

The guys at Peak Potential Adventures really know how to organise an adventure, all bases were covered and it was evident on the mountain when comparing ourselves to other teams.

I’m proud to say I reached the “Roof of Africa” and Peak Potential Adventures helped me get there to compete this charity adventure and tick another awesome experience off my bucket list.