The cool gusty wind chilled me down to the bone as I struggled to put up my tent. The thick rain forest canopy above me blocked out most of the sunlight, and with the sun quickly sinking behind the mountain peak to the west, the forest was becoming darker by the minute. With frozen hands, I clumsily finished setting up my tent and started to put on layers of clothing to get myself warm.
I was currently camping in the saddle between the two peaks of Mount Barney, a rugged and remote mountain in South East Queensland, Australia. This afternoon, I had trekked for over four hours through dry eucalyptus forest and steep terrain. The rough rocky trail had been tough, relentlessly climbing almost directly up the steep slope into the saddle. With my full pack on, my legs had burned as I climbed up the steep trail, often having to scramble up rock faces to continue on. And so, when I had finally found myself in this tiny pocket of rain forest, I was relieved to have made it to my campsite for the night.
Now with all of my layers on, I held a hot cup of tea in my hand as I stirred the pot on my stove. The sun had now set and the forest was alive with activity. Two possums crept in out of the darkness to see what I was having for dinner, their curious nature bringing them right over to me, so close that I could reach out and touch them if I wanted to.
Tired from the tough day's hike, I crawled into my sleeping bag within the shelter of my tent. I was alone on this mountain, with only the possums and my own thoughts for company, and as I drifted off to sleep, I could only imagine what the next day would bring.
In the morning, I awoke from a fairly restless sleep. The sound of the gusty wind blowing through the trees was like huge waves crashing on a beach in a storm, and sleep didn't come easily. With sandy eyes, I ate my breakfast and prepared for the day's hike. Leaving my tent behind, I walked out of the pocket of rain forest that had been my home for the night, and began my ascent up the mountain.
My legs burned and protested as I struggled up the steep slope. The trail had become almost†nonexistent, and I was now relying on my own sense of direction and the occasional piece of coloured tape that had been left behind by other trekkers to mark the trail. I pushed through scraggly vegetation and scrambled up exposed rock faces, nearly getting blown off of the mountain by the strong wind.
As the sun rose above the east peak of the mountain, I squinted into the morning sunlight and could just make out the top of the mountain. The darkness of the shadow of the mountain gave way to a sunlit summit, and I was filled with renewed energy.
Pushing on, my tired legs continued to burn, the rugged terrain relentlessly rising high above me. At times, I found myself on all fours as I tried to navigate my way up the huge exposed rocks. My hands were being rubbed raw on the rock as I tried to balance myself, carefully making sure that I was safe before continuing on to the next obstacle.
As I slowly gained altitude, I felt that I was climbing up above the rest of the world, with the other mountains in the area now seeming to be tiny hills below me. My goal was getting closer, and I was determined to make it.
I pushed my way through a thick section of low scraggly bushes, not even sure if I was on the trail or not before scrambling up yet another rock face. Then, just as I thought I had found myself at one of the rare flat sections of the trail, I realised that I had made it. The steep terrain had flattened out, and in my excitement I leaped over the rest of the rocks to get myself to the highest point, ignoring the strong wind that threatened to blow me off of my feet. †I stood there on the summit of the east peak of Mount Barney, and my breathe was simply taken away by the view. The struggle that I had endured up until this point was now swept away by the beauty that stood before me.
I found a place to shelter myself from the wind on the rocky summit and sat there, looking out over the vast landscape far below me. My tired legs, sore hands and sleep deprived body was now in the back of my mind, and I was ready for the long descent back down the mountain. Mount Barney was tough and relentless, a rugged beauty that tests your entire body, but I had conquered it, and now I felt on top of the world.
Author†Bio:†Dean Wickham is an intrepid traveller from Australia who loves adventure and exploring new places and cultures. He hopes to encourage others to get out and see the world through his travel stories and photography, which he shares on his travel blog . You can follow his adventures on his , and .
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