On Wednesday afternoon I got a call from my good mate and rock climbing partner Tully. He had planned to make an overnight trek into the mountains with one of his friends but they pulled out at the last minute, so when the offer came up to join him for a micro adventure I jumped at the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the night. Tully has been a lifelong friend since birth, as our families have grown up alongside each other out in the beautiful Tallebudgera Valley. It's truly a rare thing to be able to call someone a good friend after 24 years of the ups and downs and different paths life takes you through.
We prepared for our mountain trek by heading into Helen's health food store in Burleigh Heads, stocking up on all the essentials, nuts, dried bananas and a recently discovered treat - raw cacao nibs sweetened with Agave nectar. These light weight snacks would pack the nutritional and energetic punch we needed to get us through the solid hours of hiking and bouldering we had ahead of us.
I loaded a lightweight pack with my gear - Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.8 Lens, water, sleeping bag and a beanie, and we hit the road to the base of the mountain. The sun was already dipping behind the ridge-line as we set off on the forest trail ,so we knew we had to make headway if we were going to get to the top of the waterfalls before darkness set in. My insistence on stopping Tully for opportune photographic moments might have slowed us down a little - but it lets me share these memories with you now!
After many fun hours of rock hopping through creeks and making our own trails up sheer cliffs getting attacked by one too many thorn ridden trees and vines we made it to our chosen campsite at the top of the waterfalls. We had previously only ever been at the bottom of, due the the sheer cliff face preventing any easy ascent.
Being lost in the beauty of the place, we left our task of stripping palm fronds to make the bedrock somewhat more bearable a sleeping surface and the gathering of firewood just a little too long. The next hour was spent axe in hand foraging for dry branches and logs to build up enough of a fire to stave off the 3 degree chill that was slowly creeping in.
Sharing our meagre meal of nuts, avocados and apples rinsed down with some fresh mountain stream water under the starry sky, we bantered over stories of our youths and just how quickly these decades have passed.
Stoking the fire for the last time before retiring to my far-too-thin sleeping bag I was pleasantly greeted by the slowly intensifying luminance of glow worms that speckled the mossy walls right beside my head. Who could ask for a better night light than the starry skies, glow worms and slowly crackling fire embers.
I'd like to say I rested as well as Tully did in his goose down sleeping bag atop an air mattress, but my meagre bed of ferns riddled with far too many missed jagged rocks coupled with an ill-quipped sleeping bag had me shivering and waking every so often until the light of dawn slowly starting creeping in.
Eventually dozed off with the promise of the warming sun, I awoke not long after from dreams of wading through waist deep blizzard riddled snow drifts. As I glanced over the rocky incline I greeted Tully as he built up the fire again and gathering fresh water from the stream to wash our apples and raw cacao nibs down.
I took a few moments to capture the final photographs of our campfire's smoke rolling down the cliffside to meet with the mist of the forest floor. We soon packed up camp and kicked the last dying embers aside, dousing them with water so they had no chance of sparking anew in our absence before heading down the mountainside, homeward bound.