After a hot, sandy, sweaty, hard day- you know- the best kind, I finished the night just outside of Kings Canyon. After the rather flat and uninteresting terrain, the rising cliffs were a most welcome change.
As always in the desert, the morning came early and cool. It wasn’t going to last, so I got myself together quickly and headed out, hoping to get the climbing done before the heat of the day came on fully. On arrival I greeted with a choice- a trail to the base of the canyon, or one to the top. I knew once I’d been to the top I wouldn’t want to bother with the base, so off I went into the gorge along the nicely paved trail that allowed adventurous wheelchair access.
The view was spectacular from the base of the canyon, but the real prize was obviously at the top. So, off I went- I’d lucky left my riding jacket with the bike, but I was wearing my riding pants and boots, so once I got out of the shade and saw the climb before me, I was less than enthused. Ah well, needs must!
The climb was worth it. The classic view from the top had a bunch of tourists around it, but I was far more interested in wandering through the rock formations to care much- these rocks were cool!
It was certainly worth the hike up even if I didn’t get to spend much time in the ‘perfect’ spot.
Down the canyon and back on the road and it was time to head to Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the crown in Australias tourist crown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since, like everyone, I’ve seen endless pictures of it. I know that pictures rarely tell the whole tale- sometimes exaggerating, sometimes only hinting a the wonder to be found. What did I find? Well, A bit of both really. The rock itself was impressive and a different experience from every side- purple to orange to grey, smooth faced to water and wind worn- it was something different at every glance. Beyond the rock itself, well, it’s a huge tourist attraction that’s run by one corporation. All the accommodation in the park, all the restaurants, the gas station, etc are run by them (One hopes that the local tribe, The Anangu, are doing well from the 99 year lease they signed…). And they have no compunction about taking advantage- the bottle store was happy to sell Corona for $60AUD a 6 pack (AUD is just a bit more than USD or CAN), road food prices looked cheap by comparison, and the general vibe was uninspiring. Everyone would get up and troop out to buses to get to the rock at the right time for sunrise, sunset, etc and then head back to the resort and shop for didgeridoos that were probably made in China. Don’t get me wrong- it was cool, but it was also an over managed experience that seemed to suck the life out of this great monolith and replace it with an extra large postcard.
But… It, and it’s surroundings, were still a marvel and well worth the trip out. Even someone as hopelessly dead spiritually as I am didn’t have any problem seeing why it was such an important part of the local aborigines culture.