|Lyre bird or whateer following me home
I walked back as darkness fell. The same bird that had stared at me after I slid down followed me. I was cold and thirsty, but knew that there was a spring at the museum for the old coal mine back along the path.
Turns out that the "spring" is actually tap water squirted out of the rock for tourists, and they turn it off at 6:00.
The cable cars and inclined railways also turn off at 6:00, so if you're still in the valley, you have a two-hour hike to get to the top of the cliffs.
I came across two other hikers as I searched for a path. They first thought I was a security guard, as my whistle was still hanging around my neck, and I was wearing a reflective vest that I had put on when hoping for someone to come help me. I asked if they had a cell phone so I could tell the local police to ignore my whistle-blowing, but they couldn't get any reception.
They offered me a pack of Kleenex because my pad seemed to need changing. I explained that I was male, and that the blood running down my legs was from scratches and cuts. Turns out they were staying at the same hostel as me; one was from Ireland, one was from Germany, and they met up and got to liking each other during their travels.
I finally got to the top, and found a payphone. The police were glad that I hadn't been hurt in my little tumble, and thanked me for letting them know that they could ignore all the whistle blowing I had been doing - they had been planning on sending someone out to take a look in the morning.
I went back to the hostel, drank litres and litres of cold water, crossed off my name on the hiking register, and had a short, hot shower. The cuts stung furiously when the soap hit them, and it hurt when I flicked out the rock bits with my fingernails, but it felt good anyway. Certain fear-induced shrinkage was also reversed.
Supper came next - I was ravenous, as I had been too scared and thirsty to eat any of the bread I had brought in my pack. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING in Katoomba closes at 5:30 PM, even the restauraunts and grocery stores. The only place open was a Vietnamese fish-and-chips store, where I bought a hamburger with a slice of pickled beet in it.
Thence to bed, in a cozy dorm room full of naked athletic university students. All of them snored.