Early morning, starry sky. On the way to Kings Canyon in the Red Center, the brightest constellations I’ve ever seen, keep me awake. No wonder the area around Uluru is one of the best places for stargazing.
The road is straight as a thread with not a single turn. The desert awakes. Kangaroos jump out of the blue in front of the vehicle.
Kings Canyon’s famous Rim Walk is challenging, exhausting, long, hair-raising and nearly impossible to conquer. I like to check things for myself and make my own conclusions, therefore I don’t think twice when the guide asks us which walk we are going for – the shorter and easier one or the Rim Walk.
Everybody should carry 3 liters of water per person. The magic number will be checked before the tour and those without a sufficient amount of water won’t be allowed to hike. We do our best to stuff our backpacks and secretly hope that 2 is also a good number. No one counts the liters and we breathe a sigh of relief.
The guide informs us in a lovely manner to stay away from the edge of the abyss and that this hike is not suitable for people with a fear of heights. I exercise very regularly and walk a few kilometers every day. Still, I doubt my abilities for a second. We can change our minds and do the easier walk. Instead, we sign a medical form that we are healthy and fit and that we are aware of the risk we are taking.
Everything sounds immensely serious and scary. I remember a recent accident – a visitor fell to her death while taking a photo. My mind fabricates an unthinkable steep terrain with life-threatening abysses and sharp edges. The latter is true.
The few empty-headed travelers who dare to embrace the danger, face the first challenge. 500 steps to climb. Ok, steps are not my favorite way to keep fit, especially uneven steps carved in a rock. It’s 9 o’clock and the heat is unbearable. This is just the beginning.
We will have a break after the 250th step. What a relief! The moment I start climbing (and counting), rivers of sweat run down my back. The rocky stair is not even steep, the heat is the evil. I stop quickly to take photos and to quench my thirst with huge water sips. I constantly expect to stumble upon a horrifying cliff edge, to start feeling dizzy. My imagination exaggerates again. Hair-raising experience, where are you?!
Soon the rocks get hot as an oven. The guide encourages us to keep a good pace – we have to finish the walk before it gets too hot.
Fossils, burnt trees, an oasis in the Garden of Eden and a cloudless sky contribute to the beauty of Watarrka National Park.
Going back is much more enjoyable than going up. The water we carry is now a warm tea and my heart beats excited. We survived! I am content with myself that I didn’t turn back. Is hiking Kings Canyon scary? The heat is.