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A group photo taken whilst walking down Black Range

6 Foot Track: An all Aussie Adventure.

Story by: Mark Henderson.

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.

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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.

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