Trips can often descend into arguments and petty finger pointing.  So it was refreshing that this years Cockails on the Castle started with the finger pointing.  After driving down a dirt road that seemed to go on forever we finally emerged at a disturbingly familiar T junction.  It was not the first time we had seen this intersection. We had driven in a complete circle.  The finger pointing started.

While we had set out relatively early, our day was quickly evaporating in faff.  We were in no particular hurry as surely-we thought-we would reach the top of the Castle by Sunset.  We had all day, how could we not?  I was particularly keen to get everyone to the top with plenty of time try a photo I had in the back of my mind.  It did require that I bring excessive and heavy camera equipment.

The hike to the top of the Castle is not particularly hard, but the temperature, humidity and lack of wind took a toll.  Sweat flowed, water supplies dwindled and progress slowed.  We held hope for a waterfall halfway up but found it to be more of a frustrating joke.  Water fell in drips that were cooling but not nearly enough to fill a water bottle.

 

Fortune was with us half an hour later when we found a stream with water cool enough to leave condensation on the outside of our water bottles.  A glorious find!

All this was still costing us time, however.  Not being up the top when the sunset happened was starting to be a possibility.  Emerging at the scrambling section, we started along the ridge-line and finally spotted our final destination.  The sun was entering the golden hour.  Down the direction we came, the slower group who had split apart hours ago could be seen.  And heard as it turns out.  Mel’s voice carried with crystal clarity across the still humid air “CAN YOU SEND SOMEONE DOWN TO HELP WITH BAGS?”

No one in my group said anything.  

Mel, concluding that we must not be able to hear them repeated.”CAN… YOU… SEND… SOMEONE… DOWN…TO… HELP… WITH… BAGS?”

It turned out that some were having a hard time with the humidity.  In the end Ivan and I hustled down to help while the others shuttled our backpacks to the top.  It was now getting to be a serious race against time to get this damn sunset shot.  While there was talk about the slower group camping down on the track, everyone in the end made it up.  And it would have been a shame to miss out anyone in the group shot. 

Something to remember for those going on future Castle trips, however:  Once you get to the top of the castle, you’re not finished.  There was still some of the most serious bush bashing to go.  There are few things harder to bear for a photographer than watching the light disappear.  But it was happening.  

There is goes.

The yellow light gave way to pink that lit the cliff-lines around the castle.  But as this was happening, everyone seemed to stall.  Exhaustion from the days hike, the need for a stiff drink, getting dressed in party cloths or just confusion combined to created the ultimate faff party.  A faff party right on the finish line!  By the time everyone was in front of the camera the sky had faded to a dirty blue.  Failure!…

 So why does the final photo have an orange sky?  Do you really want to know?  Sometimes its better not to know, so if you don’t then don’t scroll down!  

Look away now, there is no going back!

Castle top shenanigans.

 

The great think about camping out is that you are able to get two bites of the apple.  Camping next to the cliff I was able to set up for a dawn time-lapse.  The final results were less than professional but I guess I am a little out of practice.

 Thanks to Ivan for taking my favorite photo of the trip of my camping site.