"Oh, yes, the Clifftop route to Rodriguez Pass and back up is a bit strenuous, but it's a good walk," she said with an innocent smile. What could go possibly go wrong?
I slap myself for not taking a picture of the sign at the trailhead. As far as we can remember, it said something like, "WARNING! Steep, difficult trail. Markings may be lacking." I think the fine print read, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!" But hey, we've done tough hikes, right? Right?!
It really was pretty on the way down, though on a number of occasions we had to retrace our steps to find where the trail continued. And, it did cross our minds a couple of times that, you know, what goes down must come up.
We finally reached the valley floor in one piece, ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and started back up.
Though I had always associated elves and dwarves and their handiwork with New Zealand (next island over), they had apparently been fiendishly practicing their art in the Blue Mountains for a while also. I lost count of the stone stairways about the time I began hallucinating.And then it got silly. The last pitch up the vertical wall was nothing short of absurd.
Just as we drank the last bit of water and composed notes to our children to be found by our bodies, we reached the parking lot, where several tourists were eyeing the trailhead. "Don't even think about it," we mumbled as we climbed in.
In the end, instead of the 11 kilometers the clever ranger lady had promised, it was 11.5 miles, you know, those bigger things, and that didn't count the vertical.
We hope you have the good sense to read - and obey - the warning signs, and be careful in beautiful and mellow places that actually are trying to get you.
Dave & Paul
Coming Soon: "Why they drive on the left in Australia," and, "Other ways to croak in Oz."