Ok, so I’m fairly confident that at least some of you (especially those of you in the US NE) are getting a little tired (ok maybe a lot 🙂 of hearing me say how amazing it is here (in the 80 degree weather) but I’m really having a hard time thinking of other superlatives to describe it….so maybe you can help by leaving your “superlatives suggestions” in the comment section. 🙂
Today I planned to drive from Canberra to the Mount Kosciuszko National Park and hike the highest peak in Australia….Mount Kosciuszko. The Airbnb couple of stayed with in Canberra told me about a great 21k (13 miles) loop hike to the top and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately I had to take care of a few things before I left so my day began a little slower than I wanted and I didn’t end up arriving at the park until after 1. As a result, I didn’t get to take the longer hike but took a shorter, but still totally awesome, 7.5 mile hike to the top.
The mountains around Kosciuszko reminded me of the mountains in the Scottish Highlands (for those who have traveled to Scotland or have watched Braveheart). Most of the Kosciuszko area is above treeline, very rocky but extremely beautiful….
It took about an hour and twenty minutes to hike to the top. Along the way I met arguably one of the most amazing (wow, I do use that work a lot huh? 🙂 and interesting people I have ever met….a girl named Nuran. She is from Australia and has worked for the Red Cross doing natural and man made (wars) disaster relief for 16 years. She recently returned from a long term deployment in Nepal where she had been since last years devastating earthquake. In her time with the Red Cross she has served in places like Haiti, Mogadishu, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Iraq. She leaves in a few weeks to go back to Afghanistan and expects to be called to Siriya in a few months. Through her time in all of these remote places she has had many illnesses like Malaria and Dengue fever (among others) and has worked in multiple war zones. Through it all she has managed to maintain a positive attitude and not to become cynical, hard hearted or numb to the pain and suffering of those in need.
Of course the obvious question (to most I think) is, why does she do it? Her response was short and confident….I go to serve the victims of these tragedies because they need help. She said, “many times my being there can make the difference between someone living and dying”……WOW! I asked her how she felt when she went to these places, was she scared or nervous and she said not really, she focuses on the people she is serving and does not think about all the other things.
We spent almost 5 hours hiking and talking about her experiences and life in general and I at the end I found myself wishing the mountain had been taller so we could have spent more time talking. I always say that there are no coincidences when it comes to God. I firmly believe that He places people and circumstances in our lives at the right time, with the right things we need to hear, say or experience and I firmly believe he did that yesterday. Maybe for me….maybe for Nuran….maybe for both….but certainly for a reason….definitely for a reason.
When we reached the top it was cold! Of course, not Philly in Feb cold :-), but it was in the mid 40’s with a strong wind that probably made it feel like the mid 30’s. But man-oh-man was it breathtakingly beautiful!
I left Kosciuszko and began my 3:30 hour drive to Albury where I would be staying for the night. As I drove out of the park just before dusk I was keeping a sharp eye for Kangaroos as I had been told they are bad to run in front of cars at this time of day (like deer in PA). Also, I had not yet seen a Kangaroo on my journey….but that would change soon.
I rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of one off in the bush. About 200 yards further there was a gravel road that led to a camping area. I took the road hoping there were other Kangaroos in the area. I drove for about 500 yards and saw 4 more grazing in a field. I was very excited. I tried to take a some pictures but the sun was shining right in my eyes and the pictures would not take. So I drove about 200 more yards just to see if there were any more and “BAM”, I come to a field with at least 100 grazing and hopping around. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was sooooo cool!
I finished the day/night with a 3 hour, white knuckle (watching out for kangaroos) to Albury. Again, I know you’re probably getting tired of hearing this but this day seriously may have been the most amazing day yet of a completely amazing trip. More to come as I head to the Great Ocean Road tomorrow.
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