So I’m not a “hiker” by any means, but after this experience, I think I could be on the trail to becoming one (pardon the pun. Or don’t.)
I signed myself up on a personal task of completing the 18.7km Historic Nightcap National Park trail as part of my fundraising efforts for the Lions Medical Research Personality Quest.
If you haven’t read about my Quest yet, go here now.
So this weekend the time had come when I was to undertake this Grade 4 hike in the wilderness, while carrying 25kg on my back, and I was pumped.
And slightly nervous about the possibility of my death – either by snake bite, or becoming lost, dehydrated, and eventually starving (Those were the scenarios in my head anyway).
I wasn’t alone though – my best friend Ashleigh put her hand straight up to join me on the treacherous expedition, for no gain on her part – she was simply going to go through the physical test out of friendship. What a gal.
So we set off from the beginning of the trail at Mt Nardi at 7.30am on Saturday, and with the estimated hike time of a day and a half, we expected to make it to Rummery Park Campground around lunchtime on Sunday.
Markers were scares along some sections of the track, and even when there were markers, most didn’t tell you how far you’d come.
For the first half of the day, we had only rough estimates of our own of how many kilometres we may have walked, and where exactly we were on the map.
At times, when the trail was so thin and covered in branches and bush, we weren’t even sure we were on the right path – but luckily we were, and each time our estimates were proved to be correct.
Walking through bushland like this is something I believe everyone (Especially Australians) should do.
It’s incredible – such beautify and varied scenery. At the beginning of the trail it was like we were in dense, sub-tropical rainforest, at another point it was like we were in dry, rugged bushland, and then later we again found ourselves in tropical rainforest vibe again.
It was breathtaking. Every millimetre of it.
How many times could we say “Woah, look at that tree – no, that one – it’s gorgeous!”
I think we passed the thousand mark on that one.
Despite the gorgeous scenery however, there is a reason why this is a Grade 4 trail and classified as “hard” – because it is hard.
There is one particular section, about two hours long, which is extremely tough.
The first part is a very steep incline, zig zagging up a mountain on a muddy, slippery slope, dodging fallen trees and climbing through debris to stay on the trail.
Following that, you’ll get a short reprieve before you start a steady, but incredibly long, incline that will tear away your soul.
You’ve been warned.
Despite the rest of the trail being fairly “easy” (for someone fit and healthy) – that section is a slogger.
But we made it out alive. And still smiling, somehow.
Due to the earlier issue of markers, It wasn’t until around lunchtime when we realised just how far we had come, and realised we only had about 7km left to complete – which meant completing the entire trail in the one day was entirely doable for us.
We were shocked – and very proud of ourselves.
Those last kilometres were tough – our bodies were very sore by that point, and just wanted to rest, but being so close to the finish line, we simply pushed though.
At 3.20pm that afternoon – just shy of eight hours after we set out – we walked into the campground, exhausted, but over the moon with our progress.
We couldn’t have imagined completing the trail in that time – nor having so much time to spare at the campground.
We hadn’t even brought a book to read!
We did, however, have a pack of cards, and the surrounding beauty of Australian nature, to entertain us until our pick up time the next day.
So it was a successful and happy hike, which left me with the feeling of wanting to do more hiking.
Maybe not as long as this, but the feeling is there.
Let’s see how long until that passes….
In the meantime, my MyCause fundraising page is still open for the rest of the week – head over and donate to my Medical Research fundraising quest if you feel it worthy!
For information about the Historic Nightcap National Park Trail, click here.