Hiking mighty Maroon

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 “My thoughts have climbed mountains and I’ve overcome boundaries set by the mind.”
― Jeremy Limn

I found myself at the base of another mountain last weekend, poised for the long hike up. This time I had company, my gorgeous husband and his mate. Now, company on a hike up a steep mountain might appeal to some. Hiking with one’s husband should indeed be a welcome opportunity to spend quality time together. Yes. Normally that would be true. However, you must take into account that my beloved is a super fit, deeply driven and totally focused mountain climber, in the true sense of the term. He climbs rocks all over the world and he has added Alpine climbing to his repertoire.  He’s driven. Did I say that already?  And he’s preparing to summit a Himalayan mountain in a few weeks time.

As you can imagine, my idea of a casual mountain stroll, taking in nature and enjoying the view, doesn’t necessarily match with his blinkered view of getting to the top in the shortest time possible.  Add to that my slow return to something slightly resembling fitness and I started to get myself in a tizz.

It all began a week ago when beloved husband asked if I’d like to hike Mt Maroon the following weekend. He mentioned his mate, probably slightly fitter than I but without recent hiking fitness under his belt, would join us. I agreed thinking it sounded like a nice morning out.  The day before the hike  I started to get scratchy about the whole thing. You see, I made the fateful error of doing some research.

Is forewarned better than ignorance? I’m not so sure. Accounts from other hikers suggested the hike was steep to vertical in sections. Some took six to eight hours to complete it. Many mentioned it was pretty hard on the knees. They all agreed the view from the top was stunning. I’m all for a view when I can get it but six hours? Seriously? I hadn’t planned on that one.  Okay, there’s nothing wrong with a six-hour hike, I’ve done longer but I was under the impression from my super lean, super fit hubby that it would take about three hours (he usually runs up in 45 minutes. See the pressure I was under!?).  I don’t do vertical elegantly and I certainly don’t love the jelly leg, arthritic joint pain that follows a steep descent. My head and heart were in conflict.  I couldn’t bail, as I too was in need of preparation for  a Himalayan trek. There was nothing for it but to suck it up and strap on my big girl hiking boots.

Sunrise on the way to the mountian.

Sunrise on the way to the mountain.

The drive from my home town of Brisbane, in southeast Queensland, took approximately and hour and a half. Leaving early ensured we had a nice cool start. The early stages of the walk are through open forest. It’s fairly gentle but certainly not flat. In fact, it isn’t long before the track becomes quite steep going. We rose very quickly leaving the surrounding farmlands behind us. The views were spectacular.

Everything was looking good for me, it was sweaty, heart pumping work but pleasant enough with a gentle cool breeze.  Until the gully (read gorge). Yep, there was a vertical section. While I was initially freaked out it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable, though strenuous scramble. We made use of tree roots and stone pockets to pull ourselves up. At one stage my husband told me to use my feet to bridge between the rocks??? Must be a climbing term. Anyway, it was a handy tip, once my brain wrapped itself a round the meaning.  I can’t say how long this section lasted, maybe fifteen, twenty minutes.  Once through the gully we could see the prize. The top of the mountain.

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A pleasant stroll through forest and a scrambly traverse up some rock slabs had us at the top in no time, where the biggest cairn I’ve seen, since hiking Ben Nevis, marked our arrival. As luck would have it, we arrived soon after  two parties departed and so, we had the summit to ourselves.  I can’t describe the view. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. We had an unimpeded 360 degree view of the national park, surrounding farms and the lake. There wasn’t a sound to be heard, man-made or otherwise. No cars, no planes, no people. It was superb.

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I was pretty excited to have completed the hike. I came away relatively unscathed, only one small scratch and a nasty egg on my shin from a rock, hidden amongst foliage, that I wacked good and proper on my descent.  We moved pretty consistently, with minimal rests (there was considerable huffing and puffing),  so the hike took us an hour and forty minutes up and an hour and twenty return. Not too bad after all my fussing. The track isn’t well-defined. In places it’s hard to know if you are on a track at all. I’m glad I was with someone who was familiar with the area.

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Mt Maroon forms part of the McPherson Range in the Mount Barney National Park. It is a 967 m peak surrounded by other mountains; Barney, Earnest, Clunie, May, Ballow and Mt Lindesay. It was named Maroon after the first grazing property in the area but it’s true, and original, name is Wahlmoorum which means sand goanna in the Yuggera language.

The national park has extremely varied vegetation with open forests around the foothills of the peaks, subtropical rainforest above 600 m and heath shrublands towards the summits. There are endangered and near threatened plant species in the National park. This knowledge really does make you want to walk gently on the earth and adds to the awe of the place.

As for the rock itself, Mount Maroon consists mainly of rhyolite. Rhyolite can be used to invigorate your emotional state and provide energy, relieve depression and lethargy. I’m not sure I felt the energy on the way up but I certainly felt the love once we reached the car park at the end of the hike. I was definitely rejuvenated.

What mountain have you found yourself scaling lately?

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