Learning how to multi-day hike in the Blue Mountains with Freeland Hiking Co.

In March, She Went Wild and Freeland Hiking Co. brought to you the inaugural Ruined Castle Overnighter + Intro to Backpacking Workshop!

Sara Freeland who guided the trip gives us her trip report.


Annie trying to remember everything I said and pack correctly!

Annie trying to remember everything I said and pack correctly!

There is something incredibly special about connecting women from all walks of life by their shared passion for adventure!

On the first She Went Wild and Freeland Hiking Co. collaboration, I had the absolute pleasure of guiding seven amazing women on an overnight hike in the Blue Mountains. For some, it was their first experience of putting up a tent, carrying a pack and spending a night out underneath the stars – how impressive is that? For others, they already had some experience but were looking to connect with likeminded females, make new friends and refine their skills.

We met early at Central Station and did the awkward introduction (you know what I am talking about!), but as soon as we hopped into the van and headed off, the conversations started flowing! By the time we reach Leura Cascades, everyone was chatting, laughing and sharing stories.

Aside from the regular tour that Freeland Hiking Co. runs, this workshop was all about learning the ‘basics’ of overnight hiking. We covered topics such as sanitising in the bush, different gear options and their pro’s and con’s, and very importantly; the correct way to pack-a-pack!

We also went through a comprehensive and individual pack fitting process. The weight can be a daunting thing for many people, so it was imperative that we took the time to fit the packs perfectly; at least attempt to make the weight feel a little lighter (it’s all an illusion, but I like to think it helps!?)

Read more: 10 Ways to Cut Backpack Weight

Once fitted, packed, and of course, peed, we set off descending into the lush Leura Cascades. If anyone has ever started a hike descending before, you’ll have experienced the totally off-putting leg-shaking, wobbly feeling that takes over your body. It’s only because your muscles are still cold, but I think I can speak for everyone that we GRATEFULLY reached the bottom, opened up our stride and before we knew it, we’d arrived at lunch – YUM!

A hop, skip, and jump later (yes, I’m oversimplifying, but nobody wants a play by play do they?), we arrived at our camp at the base of the Ruined Castle. It was predicted to thunderstorm that afternoon, so while some ladies chose to relax at camp and cradle a cup of tea, a few came and scaled the Ruined Castle for a spectacular show as the storm rolled in, blanketing the already ‘blue’ mountains with a deliciously deep grey-blue cloud cover.

Ruined Castle
Ruined Castle
Watching the storm roll in from Ruined Castle

Over dinner, we set up a little Q&A where the ladies could all ask any questions, no matter how small or silly, about hiking. As part of the workshop, we also gave each hiker a take-home manual, that covers all the topics + more; a really great resource if you’re new to hiking or looking to purchase some quality gear. Then we all climbed into our tents and were blessed with a light show from nature, as the storm passed overhead!

On day two we had the tour highlight; the climb up the mighty Mt Solitary. It’s a pretty technical ascent, but women have an incredible ability to build fast bonds and support one another for moments like this, and there was an astonishing sense of achievement flowing between the group as we reached the top (and lots of chocolate!).

Read more: wondering what other awesome overnighters there are to do in NSW? Here are the 5 best overnight hikes near Sydney.

On top of Mount Solitary in the Blue Mountains
On top of Mount Solitary in the Blue Mountains
Wonderful women!

After much oohing and ahhing at the extraordinary views, we descended, packed up camp and refuelled for the hike out. Like with most things, the walkout seemed significantly faster, and along almost an entirely new terrain, and it only took us a few hours before we were all back at the bus, smiling triumphantly and dreaming of our showers….

Thank you to each of the incredible women for their positivity, their sense of adventure and for opening themselves up to new experiences. Also, thank you to the lovely guest who left this review:

“Sara was absolutely fantastic. Very professional, super passionate (she clearly loves hiking) and knowledgeable about the surroundings. Equipment was excellent and there was plenty of good, healthy food. This experience was very challenging for me but extremely satisfying. Thanks :)”

If you’re oozing jealousy or have some serious FOMO, don’t worry – there is another overnighter planned in September, and tickets are on sale now!