Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ayer's Rock II - Part 6

Today was yet another early morning wakeup. 6am. This time, to catch the sunrise at Uluru. Showered, cleaned up, and off in the car. By the time I got to the Sunrise Viewing Area, the area was already packed with about 200+ people, at least 3 tour buses and a few other cars around.

The sunrise was rather...normal. In light that the Rock got simply brigher and brigher, compared to the Kata Tjuta sunset of the day before, it was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps it was because there was so many more people, perhaps it was because I couldn't get the best possible viewing angle..but it felt a bit flat to me.

After the sunrise, my thought was to circuit the 10km road around the rock and see what its like....but when i hit the first parking lot, the Mala parking lot, I saw that the road to climb Uluru was open! I hopped on that opportunity and flew up the hill as quickly as I could. The entire path was about 2.6km, but with a very steep first 1km. It felt like about 1km altitude gain, but that'll be a bit too much. So its probably something like just 2000 feet or so.

In any case, the first climb was very short, only about 500 meters, but very high, so a lot of folks were in the path resting. After you hit the first flat summit, you continue on up for another 50 feet of altitude gain, but the longest part of the climb, distance wise. At the very top, you can see Kata Tjuta and get a nice panaromic view of the desert plains.

The locals consider it bad luck to climb the rock, and they highly discourage non-locals from climbing. The rock has great cultural significane to them.

Well, i guess my run of bad luck started not soon after I descended the mountain. I managed to lock my keys in the car! A 4km hike to the cultural center to make a phone call and 2 hours later, I got my keys back.

With the rest of the day sort of blown due to the heat that's now all over the park, i just went back to the hostel to take it easy. I returned to the park a few hours later to take in the cultural center and see the Uluru sunset. Before I left, I booked another tour, a stars tour...as Uluru is in the middle of the desert, with no light pollution, I thought it'll be the best time for me to learn more about the southern skies.

The sunset was quite good, much better than the sunrise, but not quite as good as what it would be in August or September, assured me a local. Apparently you get the colors of the rainbows just above the rock, and its spectcular! I just got the color changing, but thought it was quite nice nonetheless.

I retunred back to thoe hostel, got dinner prepared and eaten, and waited around for the stars tour. At the time the stars tour was supposed to start, a car screeched up to the curb, out hopped a person and he introduced himself to all of us as the astronomer. The show was being cancelled due to the clouds in the skies. I was disappointed as you could still see the southern cross and orion, but he assured us it would get much worse. Still, he pointed us to the southern cross, and I was just a bit bummed.

My luck got worse however...while charging my blackberry in the community room, my charger blew! it could have been worse (could have been the camera charger), but still..I guess summitting Uluru gave me all this bad luck! I had a very low charge on the phone as well and it worried me as i used it as an alarm clock as well...and i have a few more 6am pickups for both my dives and my flights back to sydney.

I'm using it only as an alarm clock now....so no more postings!

I'm posting this entry from an internet cafe...=)

ah well...I'm really sorry i summited uluru! please no more bad luck!
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