It was a nice hike. Rainforest, coachwood forest, a really cool waterfall. Nice but not memorable. Until, with 2.5km to go, a big thunderstorm hit us and it quickly became memorable.
Washpool Walk is an 8.5 km easy walk that starts in the rainforest on the Coombadjha Creek in Wahspool National Park, NSW. The track briefly follows the creek and then meanders alongside another pristine stream with crystal clear water. Moss covered rocks line the tracks and strangler vines drape the massive gums and pines. There is abundant birdlife and the cicadas were almost deafening at some points.
Following a short path off the main track took us to the Red Cedars. Here is a stand of eleven cedars that were spared from the years of logging in the area. The information signs provide some history of the area for us to read as we had a drink and some scroggin.
Cedar Creek is beautiful and there is a mossy wooden bridge that crosses it. A trapdoor in the timber decking revealed a cup on a rope that we could use to refill our water bottle with the creek water.
As we gained elevation, the rainforest changed to dry sclerophyll forest, and then at the highest point of the walk, we passed through the largest coachwood forest in NSW. Somewhere around this section of the track there is a lookout, but if there was a sign, we must have missed it, which is a pity.
Once the track starts turning back towards the start, you once again enter the rainforest and follow a creek in a gully below the track. It wasn’t long before we came to Summit Falls, which is just a short distance from the main trail. We headed down, ready to cool off in the mountain waterfall. This was a great spot for photos, and the boys jumped under the falls for a cold shower. There wasn’t a swimming hole at these falls, but when we explored a bit further downstream, we found a larger waterfall and a decent sized swimming hole.
The heavens open
Here at the falls, were we relaxing and having fun when the distant rumble of thunder came closer and at shorter intervals. “Better pack up and get going”… Heading off, we only got a couple of hundred metres before we started to hear rain on the upper storey of the rainforest. As the rain got heavier, we decided to run the rest of the hike, not so much from concerns for safety (although hiking in a thunderstorm isn’t a great idea for obvious reasons) but more because of concern about all the camera equipment in Scott’s pack.
Two and a half kilometres to go and this nice, but completely forgettable hike had taken on a new dimension. We were running at speed through the forest as the rain penetrated the forest roof and started to saturate us. We now know what a rainforest tastes like. As the first lot of rain came through the canopy and soaked us, we were running and breathing hard, the water covered our faces and went in our mouths. It tasted musty and mouldy, just like the forest smells. This just added to the excitement of the situation.
Although it was only mid-afternoon, the storm clouds made the already dark rainforest even darker. Some particularly thick patches were like night. We were running along the twisting trail, over rocks, logs and tree roots. The wet leaves glistened in the light that managed to reach the lower part of the forest. All five senses were engaged as we experienced the smell, the light, the taste and the change in humidity in the forest. Soon we were completely saturated, and we were treading in puddles on the trail.
I felt like Daniel Day Lewis in the opening scenes of The Last of the Mohicans. It was fantastic!
Scott and the boys loved it too. We covered the last couple of kilometres quickly and thanks to the thunderstorm, the hike had become a memorable and exciting one. We made it back safely and thankfully all the camera gear was dry.
Later on, when we were in our dry tent, I asked the boys what they liked best about the hike. Of course, they said it was the last bit – running in the rain during the storm.