Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cross Training

I hate walking. In fact, I'll do just about anything to avoid it. My wife finds it quite intriguing that I can ride hundreds of km's but can't gather the energy to walk around the block. Despite this, almost 12 months ago, I agreed to ring in the 2014 new year with a 3 day hike in Freycinet National Park in Tasmania with family. 

I had no idea what to expect. I have done day walks before and I have gone camping before but I have never combined the two. I soon discovered that doing both at the same time, meant that you had to purchase a large amount of hiking, camping and mobile cooking gear. It felt like we had enough stuff to remodel a kitchen but at more than the cost it is to refit a house. I still felt under prepared. 

We all arrived in Tasmania, ready to start the hike but thanks to Jetstar Airlines, a lost back pack meant we had to postpone all plans by a day so that they could locate the bag. (I could start an epic rant about this but I won't)

My back pack was heavy. Like 30kg heavy. We had to carry enough food for 3 days as well as about 6L of water as the creeks may not be flowing for refills. I struggled to put it in the car, never mind lugging it around for 3 days!

Walking with a heavy back pack is a lot like driving with a trailer. You can't accelerate as fast, you can't slow down as fast. You can't corner very well and you always have to remember that it is there or you will run into things. The main difference is that a trailer doesn't leave you with an aching back and shoulders!

Despite this, the hike was amazing. On day one, we covered 15km on our way around The Hazards (4 mountains that are, well... hazardous), along Hazards Beach to Cooks Hut for our first camp site. At this point I was feeling particularly energetic and did an extra small 6km loop to check out Bryan's Beach. I probably shouldn't have. 

At Cooks Hut, we were lucky enough to have access to fresh water and a composting toilet that made the worst public toilet I have ever seen look like Buckingham Palace. Just before dusk, we were lucky enough to see a wombat venture out for food- my first ever wild wombat sighting. 

We woke tired and sore the next day for what was the hardest day of the hike; 11km hike over the top of Mt Graham at 579m and a drop down into the iconic Wineglass Bay for night 2. It was like doing a 6hr gym session made up entirely of leg squats. 

Despite this, Wineglass Bay is an amazing place that was definitely worth the effort. Interestingly, it is named for its appearance after whales were chased into the bay and slaughtered, turning the water a 'wine' red and making it look like a glass of wine. 

The final day was a relatively short hike over The Hazzards and back to the car park. The relief of taking off the back pack was amazing. Removing 30kg of weight made me feel like I was going to fall over when ever I walked because my balance had been thrown out but also so light that I could jump 10ft in the air and slam dunk a basketball. 

The hike was 36km in total and was tough, yet rewarding. My feet are sore and my shoulders hurt to touch but I would do it again. It is something that I have always wanted to do and something that I look forward to doing more of. Now that I have all the gear, it should be a lot easier!

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