5 things my trip to the top of Australia taught me
What I love most about hiking is the feeling of immersion in the moment. Without the distractions of my mobile* (read: Social Media), the pressures of my ‘To-Do List’, or the dishes waiting to be done, I can really just focus on one thing.
This one thing is to be outside in the beautiful fresh air, enjoying the views and the feeling of working hard physically. Working hard physically doesn’t always feel so fabulous at the time, but the satisfaction I get afterwards of not giving up (and not breaking down in tears) is one I cant get enough of.
If I’m sharing a hike with a good friend, or a fabulous group of people, all the better. There have been (and probably will be again) times that I need to be alone, but the bond that forms between people that share amazing experiences such as hiking Mt Kosciuszko, is a close one.
So what did I learn from my first multi-day hike in over 10 years? (and my first ever that I camped rather than staying in a mountain hut?):
1. Pack light
OK so if you go through any hiking magazines/Blogs/books – anything relating to hiking – you’ll always find this mentioned. I thought I had it covered pretty well, and felt pretty good about my pack weight. That was until I actually put it on my back and started walking.
We estimated our packs to be somewhere around 20kg’s. This is crazy – adding an extra 20kg to your back while walking nearly 50km?!
SO most of this was water weight – approximately 11kg for 11 litres of water – but still, surely there was more I could’ve done with this? I think I need to do some more reading/research about this subject!
We estimated 3 litres of water per person per day. This has to include cooking, coffee and brushing your teeth, so was probably a little on the small side. In hindsight I probably could’ve done with another litre or two.
BUT before we left we could find little information on the internet about water availability, so we went with the safe option.
What could we have done differently? I’ve just invested in a LifeStraw – this could’ve helped. Plus, I could’ve looked more extensively on the internet for information (forums maybe?), or contacted the National Parks office by phone.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of a great hiking companion (or group)
When I’d initially planned this trip I was prepared to go alone if I had to. But I kept thinking over and again during the 3 days how much better it was that I could share it with someone. But it’s crucial to get the right someone – or group – as this could have the complete opposite effect.
Hiking the Main Range of Mt Kosciuszko meant that I needed someone that I trusted, respected, would get me through when it got tough (shall I mention Heartbreak Hill again here?) – and most importantly – someone that I could have a laugh with and that I enjoyed being around. Walking back down to the chairlift at the end, it felt like we were a force to be reckoned with – we’d hiked nearly 50km (and had had such a great time doing it) – and I loved that people were looking at us with respect and interest.
This taught me a lot about what I’ll need to look at while leading group hikes. Every person is a crucial aspect of the overall enjoyment of the hike of the whole group.
By Day 2 I’d had enough of Salada’s and with only 1 dehydrated meal under my belt, I was ready for some real food.
Not sure what can be done to combat this – except for the promise of a nice hot meal at the end – even though I found after not eating much for 3 days I couldn’t eat as much as usual (much to my annoyance!).
5. That I can do it
I can do it – and so can most other people too. It’s just about getting out there, giving it a go – and not giving up if it gets tough. Is it always easy – or fun? Nope. There are times where all I’ve focussed on is ‘one foot in front of the other’ and that’s been enough to get me through. I’ve trained in the rain, the wind, the heat, when I’ve had a lot of work/housework I should be doing instead, and when I havent really felt like it.
But I’ve found something I love – and afterwards I never regret getting out there and giving it my best.
So, there’s a bit of research for me to do before I embark on another multi-day hike (including where I’ll go), but I’ll definitely look back at this this as a reminder of what to focus on.
My hope is that someone else will find my findings helpful – and will use this information as a basis for planning their own multi-day hike somewhere fabulous. If you do, please share – I’d love to hear about other people’s adventures!