There were more flowers on this side of the valley: a variety of peas, some rock orchids, purple matchstick flowers (pink and purple flowers of the matchstick bromeliad–a flower that had delighted me on my first visit to the rainforest), and many others. Overhead, we could hear the crunching sounds that signaled that parrots were feeding on gum nuts in the treetops.
We came to a broad, shiny, black swath in the cliff face, which Glen pointed out. It was a great seam of obsidian–volcanic glass–another relic of this area’s days as the edge of a giant volcano. At one clearing, Glen also pointed out the distant Mount Warning–the remains of the massive volcano’s center.
I felt something bite my neck, and I reached back to find a tick. I pulled it off (before I knew what it was), and when I saw it was in fact a tick (legs still moving), I threw it away in horror. Mike said I should have squashed it–then insisted on inspecting the spot it had bitten, to make sure I got it all. (Often, when you try to remove a tick, its head gets left behind. Fortunately, the whole tick had come away.) Everybody in the group got a brief case of the crawlies, as they searched to make sure nothing had gotten on them. Then Jenny noted cheerfully that, since it was so dry, at least we weren’t having trouble with leaches. Glad to hear it!
My calf muscles were complaining as we continued our climb up the mountain. (Not certain why I thought my three miles a day on a flat walking track back home had prepared me for this.) Ken and Mike, seeing that I was struggling with my camera equipment as I climbed, took turns carrying it on the steeper parts of our uphill hike. (Everyone had a backpack, but I was the only one crazy enough to be carrying extra gear.) Their chivalry was hugely appreciated. I was breathing hard but was still enjoying my awe-inspiring surroundings. Grass trees became more frequent, most with the immense central spike that bears their tiny flowers.
By 1 o’clock, we’d reached Kooloonbano Point, on the top of the far wall. From here, we could see the whole Numinbah Valley, with Egg Rock and Turtle Rock far below. In a shady clump of sheoaks, we dropped our packs, sat down, and pulled out our packed lunches. I was starved, and I ate the sandwich and nut mix enclosed. Mike and I were chatting, and he suggested that I save the fruit for later, and not eat the nut bread at all. “You’re hungry, of course. But it’s a lot easier to climb if you’re not full.” Boy, was he right. I regretted having eaten soon after starting up again. Fortunately, everyone else was full, so it kept the pace a little slower for about half an hour.