Ascent of Didthul - Budawang Wilderness
Didthul is a high volcanic cap near the coast in SE Australia. The maps still call it Pigeon House.
On the first occasion i tried to get to Didthul, the Mapping App (acting, no doubt, out of the best of motives) waited until i was listening to music and surreptitiously directed me back to the safety of town and gas stations. So, on the second attempt to get to the mountain, I navigated by old road signs.
The signs at the entrance warn that you will experience periods of solitude with few encounters with others (and, also promised no signs :) ).
I started with a long wonderful ramble through the forest, with the unexpected joy of meeting a couple of other climbers and walkers along the way.
On top i sat so still for so long that a little red breasted robin came and sat on me for a moment, thinking i was a rock. But the views down into the wilderness are worth the effort. Every muscle in my body ached, but the ones that operate my smile ached the worst.
On the final part of the walk, usually the part that can drag a little as the energy levels fall and the shadows hide the subtle traps of partly exposed tree roots, a young woman matched my stride and told me the story of her life (which had recently involved turning her son's phone into a brick as she attempted to snoop on him), which made me cry and laugh. When now i look back to this day, the soaring cliffs and fractured plateaus, her voice is part of the memory.