Tag Archives: mountains

Seeing Stars in the Outback

4 Dec

The curving edges of Wilpena Pound, a gigantic geological depression.
Weather doesn’t get more biblical than droughts, floods and plagues of locusts. And that precise trifecta has hit the South Australian outback this summer.

The great salt lakes, which sit dry for decades on end as brilliant mirrors of pinkish white, oscillate between aggressive blue and muted brown. The impossibly ancient mountains have turned from the iconic outback red to green.

In fact, looking out from the ridgetops of the Flinders Ranges, it’s easy to see how the ridiculed explorer turned prescient surveyor, George Goyder, decided the mountains were ringed by an enormous inland sea.

It’s easier still to pity the poor sods who slogged in his wake through almost a thousand kilometres of spiky acacia, spiny wattle and savage spinifex, amid flies so persistent that the diagonal motion of the hand in front of the face to clear them away for a second or two is known as “the Aussie salute”, carrying (yes, carrying) a wooden boat to traverse the imaginary sea… Continue reading

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Mr. Confidence

15 Aug

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes.

This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from ascending 800-plus metres of said mountain then descending more than 2 kilometres of it.

In a single day.

After a 2am start. Continue reading

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

14 Aug

Low's Peak casts a shadow and refracts the sunrise, Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Dali would have loved the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea.

Granite towers, horns and cowslicks protrude improbably from a landscape of fractured moraines and curvaceous drops, polished clean by Pleistocene glaciers and decked with gleaming waterfalls.

And watching the rising sun refract around these surrealist sculptures and illuminate Low’s Gully, which falls dark and sheer for over a kilometre, is a memory that will last forever.

Unlike the thigh and calf pain, which I am told should be gone within the week. Continue reading

Ulp. It’s an Alp.

10 Aug

The flag of Sabah state, with Mount Kinabalu shaded in blue on the top left.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]When a mountain makes it onto the state flag, you know it’s a big old mountain. And Mount Kinabalu, which stands over 4000m above Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, is certainly that.

The nine year old and I will be climbing it on Wednesday and Thursday. (Well, hiking, technically, albeit with the odd bit of rope and head-torch action.)

And every time I see the bloody thing looming up, I wonder whether this is a good idea. Particularly since one part of Z’s incentive package for the summit climb is that I am giving up smoking.

Not for the first time, it has to be said, but hopefully for the last. Continue reading

Global Time = Quality Time

10 Jun Z holding wildflowers. Sapa, Vietnam.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]My son and I set out to travel the world together in January. I’d imagined many wonderful things about the journey. What I hadn’t imagined is the sheer quality and quantity of time together.

Terraced hillside and paddy fields, Sapa, Vietnam.

This morning's walk. Sapa, Vietnam.

Or, for that matter, the absolute, unalloyed luxury of starting every single day with a complete free rein.

Where shall we go today? What shall we do? What shall we see?

All, as it happens, for less than the rent or mortgage on a one-bedroom London flat. Continue reading