Wednesday, October 14, 2009
FInding Nemo, tall mountains, and secluded waterfalls
The last three days have been quite an exhausting whirlwind. Things started early two days ago when a group of us ventured north of Cairns to the Mowbray Valley for a hike. The "trail" was about 2 kilometers up a canyon full of secluded pools and waterfalls, culminating in a 60 meter (everything is in metric- I apologize) cascade with a swimming hole. Monday was the warm-up hike, Tuesday was the real hike- we got up at 4:15 AM to get on the Mt. Bartle Frere trail at 6:00 AM. Mt. Bartle Frere is the tallest mountain in Queensland at whopping 5321 feet (really?). That doesn't sound very tall right? The trick was that the trail head started at basically 0, and (rapidly) descended to 5231 feet. The trail was really unique- we started in rain forest and skirted our way up ridges pulling ourselves up with roots and tree trunks. After leaving the rain forest we entered a fun boulder field and then entered cloud forest- rain forest that receives its astronomical annual rainfall straight from the clouds which cover the summit 200+ days a year. We ate lunch at the summit (there are trees on top- boo) and then we stumbled our way back down and finished at 3. Today I woke up early again to board "SilverSwift" and travel to the Great Barrier Reef for 3 dives. My dives ranged in depth from 0 to about 55 feet and from 38 minutes to 47 minutes. We saw sea turtles, reef sharks, a stray eel, oodles of fish, and an exact replica of everyone's favorite Disney fish (Nemo, in case you were wondering). Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the actual dive because my camera doesn't enjoy diving as much as me. I can however assure you that it was pretty unique- towering corals, coral walls, shallow corals, deep corals, corals of all colors, and thousands of fish. I would highly recommend a dive if you ever somehow end up in Cairns, Australia. Tomorrow morning we leave here at 7 AM for a 25 hour train ride to Gladstone, and then a 2 hour boat ride across open ocean to Heron Island, where I'll be for the next two weeks for my coral reef class. Internet may be sketchy, but I'll post as much as I can. Unfortunately my photos aren't ready for posting currently, so I'll put some up next chance I get.