Nature’s Window

Days 373-374

Before leaving Cervantes, I went to the visitor center and got several brochures of things to do along the coast as I headed north. Then I made a quick stop at a church to see the beautiful design. After that, I bought some groceries, got gas, and hit the road. 

The drive was beautiful, with green grass illuminating the rolling hills. I was driving north along the coast, so the ocean was to my left and made an appearance from time to time. 

My first stop was Pink Lake. There are several pink lakes around Australia because of a particular type of algae that grows there. Depending on the time of day, the lake can look like a bubble gum pink or a faded violet. 

I arrived about an hour or two too late to see the bright pink, but it was still gorgeous! A few small sections of sand were accessible, so I climbed down a small hill to see it closer. The pink was incredible, and even remnants of the color were on the sand. 

It was winter and the days were short. The bright sun was shining on the lake, creating some reflections. There were just a handful of people taking pictures, so I enjoyed the quiet air and calm lake. I tried my best to capture the lake’s pink-ness in photos, but it was a challenge because of the sun. 

I continued my drive north, stopping at various lookout points on cliffs overlooking the ocean. Driving around southern and western Australia was incredible. There are so many cliffs with raging ocean waters hitting the rocks below. It’s so untouched with no skyscrapers or city noise around – just the sound of the water. 

I arrived at my motel in Kalbarri, where I’d be staying for two nights. It was a decent motel with a kitchen sink and an area with a microwave, toaster, and a few dishes. 

For dinner, I went to an outdoor restaurant that had great reviews. I ordered my food and sat at the end of a long, wooden table. The patio was beautiful, with string lights hanging overhead. I ate my fish sandwich while children danced to live music. There were yard games like giant Jenga, with families having a blast. 

The next morning at 7:00 am, I drove about 45 minutes to start an ATV tour. I love driving ATV’s because it’s a great way to see a lot without going too fast. The tour guide was a woman in her 60s named Ellen. Her long gray hair was pulled back into a bun, and she had a large stomach but tiny arms. 

The machines were ready to go, lined up inside of a large garage. I talked with a couple who was also there for the tour. They were in their late 30s and had just purchased a house in Perth. The husband had a month off of work, so they were exploring the west coast. The couple was sleeping in a tent and mentioned how cold it was during the night. The woman explained that her hips were hurting from sleeping on the ground. I laughed and explained, “That’s why I am staying in a motel – it is too cold to be in a tent.” Ellen chimed in, saying, “You’re staying in luxury.” 

It was time to start the tour, so we put helmets on while Ellen explained how to use the ATV’s. They were much larger than the ATV that I rode while in Thailand a few months prior. I put my wind jacket and bike gloves on, and then I was ready for adventure! 

I followed Ellen as she drove on a dirt road. Because it had been raining the last week, the grass was bright green and fresh new blades reflected in the sunlight. The lakes and ditches were full of water, making it a little dicey going through some areas. 

The landscape was just incredible. The blue sky had scattered clouds breezing through it. The sun shone through the trees as it rose into the sky. 

We passed a couple of small lakes, and they were so still, they looked like mirrors. One seemed so calm, and I wanted to jump off my ATV and touch it! 

The path was rough at times, but overall it was reasonably smooth. The road wasn’t even a fraction of the craziness that I experienced in Thailand. In some sections, the sand got very thick. Halfway through the tour, we stopped at a higher point that had a rock formation. Ellen told us that we could climb up and see the view, so the three of us did. 

After two and a half hours, the tour was finished. I drove back to my motel and took a nap. By the time I ate some lunch, it was getting into the afternoon. I wanted to see the famous rock formation called “Nature’s Window,” which was fairly close. I arrived at the parking lot in my hiking gear at 2:20 pm. 

It was only a ten-minute walk to Nature’s Window. The large parking lot with lots of tourists was already annoying me. The walk was easy at first but got tricky with climbing over jagged rocks just before arriving at the rock formation. 

There were many people squeezed on the rock, waiting in line to take their picture. The window was beautiful, giving a natural window of the horseshoe river far below. I had someone take a photo of me inside the window, but they had their finger in front of the lens. 

I decided to leave the crowd, start the Loop Trail that climbed down to the river, go around the bend, and then back up. As soon as I left the public, the trail was completely empty. I walked along the top of the ridge and ended up with a breathtaking view of the river’s bend. 

It was warm outside, but it was bearable. As I started the descend, I passed an older couple coming up who said, “It’s late in the day to start.” I ignored them and kept hiking. 

Shortly after, two guys from Europe passed me. One looked like a hippy with dreadlocks, no shirt, basketball shorts, and the wrong hiking shoes. They didn’t say hi and just skipped past me. 

The climb down was fairly steep with lots of rocks. I arrived at the bottom, and there was sand near the river. The water was incredibly still. The backdrop of the rock wall on the opposite side was majestic! It had flat, sharp layers. I was the only one around, but I could hear the European guys in the distance. 

When I arrived at the bottom, I saw a sign that read, “Consider your options! It is another 5km to complete the Loop Trail. The trail gets much harder and hotter from here. Take a break and rest. If you are tired, retrace your steps to Nature’s Window. Stop and Think! Return to car park if you have less than 2 to 3 litres of water per person.” The sign’s map had warnings at various upcoming sections: “Rock ledges along river’s edge,” and “Deep, sandy river edge with some boulders.” I had already passed the “cliff top walking.”

Well, that was an alarming sign. It was hot outside, but it was winter and late afternoon, so it wouldn’t be getting any more sizzling out. I thought about my options, and I’m a pretty stubborn person. I wasn’t going to hike back up. I wanted to see the whole loop trail. I convinced myself that it would be fine, but I’d need to keep going and not take a break. I had plenty of water in my Camelbak, and I drank as I hiked. 

I walked across the sand and got closer to the water. There were a few white posts with an arrow indicating where the trail continued. I followed them the best I could, but then the sign was pointing to the water. 

I paused. That couldn’t be correct. There wasn’t a path. It was just a jagged rock wall and then water. Unfortunately, I realized it was the only way out of there. The problem was that the rocks just above the water only had a couple of inches to put my feet, and there were more rocks above. I’m just over six feet tall, and the space available was about four feet. 

I sucked in my gut, ducked down, and grabbed the rock wall with my hands as I inched my way across the section on my toes. The water didn’t look too deep, but I definitely didn’t want to fall into it. After I crossed a few feet, I came to a section that was even crazier. The space was so short that I’d have to crawl through to keep going – all while trying not to fall off the rock wall into the water. 

I was scared. This was the craziest hike that I’ve ever done. I was all alone without a soul around. I was in a cavern where the sun couldn’t reach. I couldn’t turn back – I had no space to turn around. I didn’t want to spend the night there, so forward it was. 

For me to fit in this tiny section, I had to slowly remove my backpack without falling. I slid it through the area as best as I could. Then I got on my knees and then on my stomach. I slid myself through the tiny section on the edge of the sharp, flat rocks looking at the water, hoping nothing would come and eat me. 

I had to push my backpack forward as I went, and eventually, I made it! It was a relief, but I worried about what was next. Then I reminded myself that those two unprepared European guys made it, so I could too. 

The views down there were so beautiful; it made it all worth it. I couldn’t believe that everyone stops at Nature’s Window and misses that beauty. The path was still a little crazy, and a couple of times, I took the wrong way and had to backtrack. But I eventually made it to the other side where it opened up. Water drizzled from various rocks, allowing life to grow in the rocks. 

A few kangaroos were coming out to eat now that the sun was going down. One had a baby in the pouch. There were adorable, so I just hung out until they hopped away. I loved the blue sky against the red rocks and green trees. 

I came around the corner of the enormous rock wall, a more massive river that was moving much faster appeared. I had about half a mile to go and needed to climb back up to Nature’s Window. I saw four women who had climbed down there to see the river. They took the easy route. 

As I climbed up, the sun was setting fast. I tried to go as fast as I could so that I could see the sunset. When I arrived at the top, it was serene. I pulled out a granola bar and sat on a rock to rest while watching the sun. 

There were just a few people at Nature’s Window this time. I was finally able to get a picture without a finger in front of the lens. It was so much better than a couple of hours earlier. The sun shined on the red rocks, making them appear an even brighter, deeper color.  

My legs were feeling very sore, and it was about to be dark outside, so I started the walk back to my car. The hike was about six miles (9.6 kilometers) and almost 1,000 feet elevation. It was quickly getting cold outside on the walk back to the car. I drove back to my motel, showered, and ate dinner. It was an exhausting day, but every minute of it was worth it.

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Published by Christy

I quit my corporate job and sold my house in Los Angeles so I can travel and write. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and moved to the Los Angeles area after college. I worked in the business world for 15 years. Follow along to see pictures and hear stories of people I've met along my journey so far - driving to Alaska.

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