Almost time to leave

Tomorrow is the day I head off on my 450km solo hike for brain injury. It’s hard to believe it’s come around so fast AND it’s also hard to believe that I managed to get everything done in time. Man, what a job it was to organise everything. I can’t even begin to describe how much effort went into planning stuff and getting everything ready. There were a few glitches; one of them the t-shirts I had planned to wear on the hike. They cost a mint and I was really looking forward to wearing them because they were so cool, but it was my mum who pointed out that I’d made a stupid spelling mistake in the wording. I was not impressed and they all went into the rag bag. Poo Bum Wee. But if that’s the worst thing that happens, then I really can’t complain can I?

Oh yeah, I won’t be posting regular updates because I refuse to own an internet phone, but even if I did, I’d need to preserve the battery for emergencies. That means that everyone has to be patient to find out how I’m progressing. I might pop up on the news or on the radio every now and then, but I don’t know which stations or channels.

I got my new tent today. It came courtesy of an in-kind donation from a cool dude who runs a business in Hervey Bay. I mentioned that I was doing the hike on a Facebook hiking group and wanted recommendations for a new tent and a business owner in WA responded telling me that he’d offer a discount for the tent I chose. I only “paid” $525, but this is the real pricetag that was attached to the tent:

$749.99!!!!

No way would I have EVER paid this much for a tent out of my own money. I still can’t get my head around the price of it. I set it up, which is what you always should do before you use a new tent for the first time. It’s pretty cool because I actually fit inside it. My old hiking tent was a nightmare because I couldn’t even sit up in it and my feet poked up into the top causing the sleeping bag to always be wet from condensation at the foot end, not to mention what happened when it rained.

This new tent is a two-person tent. I’ve seen lots of tents and I’ve never seen a tent that actually fits the amount of people it claims to hold, but this one would and I reckon there’d be room left at the sides. It’s huge, but it only weighs 1700grams. My old tent was around 2.2kg and it was nowhere near as big, even though it’s meant to be a two-person tent as well (as if). There’s even room leftover lengthways, which is a novelty for a giant woman.

Me and my new tent: Wilderness Equipment Space 2. I had to set it up on the footpath as my yard is a giant sand pit because I live in the land that rain forgot: Australia.

I cannot know what adventure will bring, but bring adventure I will.

You’re an Amateur and that’s O.K.

I”ve climbed one mountain in 27 years, so I’m not really what you’d call a climber, but what Jen (obviously she’s awesome with a name like that) talks about here is totally relatable to pretty much everything in life and is certainly my own approach to living a life that matters. I know I’m never going to be the best at one thing, but that means I get to do lots of things, which sometimes come together to create an ability where none previously existed. This approach to life opens up your existence and delivers opportunities in a never-ending sphere of awesomeness.

***EDITOR”S NOTE***

Jen Alger is a whimsical and hilarious commentator on training, climbing, and all things LIFE related.  Jen’s background in theater scrupulously shines throughout her storytelling and writing. We are fortunate to be able to share Jen’s three part series on her past, present, and future endeavors in climbing.  For a more detailed look at what Jen has been up to, check her out on Instagram @chubbygirlclimbing 


You’re an Amateur and that’s OK: My future in climbing

I have been fascinated with climbing for a long time. Way before I actually started doing it regularly. I tell many people about my family’s obsession with watching Cliffhanger. If you’ve never seen it, the beginning involves Sylvester Stallone free soloing a ridiculous route and then yeeting a chick and her teddy bear from thousands of feet in the air. I may be paraphrasing a little.

Vertical Limit – another…

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Three Year Anniversary

I walked 375km from Mt Perry to Toowomba in 2016 and my awesome friend just reminded me that today is the three year anniversary of my arrival. I did that hike to raise money for a brain cancer research program run by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane. I’ve written a book about the hike called One Foot After the Other. Hopefully it’ll be available for purchase in the first half of 2020.

Me arriving in Toowoomba in 2016

I learnt some pretty cool shit on that hike. Mostly that it’s ok for stuff to be hard, and there’s no reason to be worried about being scared because although fear might feel like crap, fear itself can’t actually hurt you.

Another interesting thing I learnt is that everything in the bush sounds about a thousand times bigger than it actually is and a thousand times closer than it actually is, especially at night. So, you might hear this giant crashing right next to your tent, but if you were to go outside and investigate you might see a baby echidna making its way through the undergrowth about ten mentres away. Ohhh, cute, you might say, but right before that you imagined that a team of velociraptors were closing in because that’s what it sounded like. This happened to me here:

Campsite at Bum Bum creek in 2016.

Here I imagined all kinds of scenarios including a dairy-turned-drug lab-turned-people smuggling racket, an Aussie Fargo and killer ants. All of this because the driveway to a dairy was nearby, but not as close as I imagined it to be. All of this because I heard a chainsaw start up right near my tent, but it was actually probably more than a kilometre away (I certainly couldn’t see it from where I was camped) and all of this because about six big ants got on my tent.

Other campsites have their own stories, like having to sleep between two “murder dungeons” and at another place, braving an infestation of mice and the associated shit, then at a hotel, having to put my sleeping bag on top of the covers of the bed because it looked like the sheets had NEVER been changed, and not being able to say anything about it because I’d been given the room for free.

It was all pretty interesting because I had no way to know what to expect at the next campsite, especially if it was a spot where I knew I’d come across other people. For example, I met the self-proclaimed Messiah, who was also an alien and on the run from the cops at one location, the World’s Biggest Whinger at another and was kidnapped in a friendly way from the side of the highway at yet another. I ate homemade pizza with a family I’d never met before and at another family’s home, played with their five children when they arrived home from school.

Rural view in 2016. I’m pretty sure this was from the rail trail on the way to Kingaroy

I don’t know why, but I thought that the 450km hike I’m about to set off on would be much the same as the 2016 hike, at least in terms of logistics, but it’s not. I’ve had to change everything around about sixteen billion times and am still trying to find places to stay at a couple of the locations. Not only that, I have to keep coming off the trail for various reasons, which isn’t something I did at all in 2016, which makes me feel like I’m cheating, even though I’m not because I get dropped off right back where I was picked up.

The closures of the Fraser Island Great Walk and the Cooloola Great Walk have presented the biggest challenges because that’s how I was meant to get to the Sunshine Coast to avoid the hiway. I’ve worked a way around it, but it’s not as interesting as doing the two walks along the coast. It’s a 90km loop from my house. Ooooh, exciting:

You: What did you see?

Me: The same sand I see every day of the week.

You: Then what?

Me: The same road I drive on twice a week to get into Bundaberg

You: And then?

Me: Well, that’s it because I was back home after 90km of boring-ass crap!

I should have been seeing perched lakes, like Lake McKenzie and sand blows like Carlo Sand Blow. Ohhh, poor me.

It’s less than a week until I leave: the 17th of September. It’s come around so fast because it’s been so much work to organise. The walking part is the easy part, it’s the other stuff that seems to be neverending. I can’t imagine what it must be like to work out the logistics of a long hike in a country that you’ve never been to where you don’t have friends to help out.

Viva Activa

 

 

 

Me and the Food

Today I spent eight hours getting the food packed up and organised for my brain injury hike. 

This is a typical ration for one day:

Some of the meals have dried vegetables in them and then there’s the dried fruit. The fruit and veggies went from this:

To this:

Then it all ended up looking like this:

Packing up the food isn’t my favourite thing. I get quite anxious over it. I’m not running around with my arms flailing about, knocking into walls while crying and screaming or anything, but I do worry about getting it exactly right (I can’t handle the thought of having to go without my dinner!) That’s not at all helped by the high fire danger in just about all the areas I’ve planned to walk in. I’ve had to remap the route twice due to national parks getting closed to walkers due to the high fire danger. It was kind of annoying, well, a lot annoying, but at least I had enough time to plan alternatives and I haven’t lost my shit at all yet, which is pretty damn awesome! I did almost start crying the other day when three people in a row, who were your basic big ol’ meanies, were really mean to me when I asked for their help about camping, but then I met someone nice, who was happy to help me, so I got over being upset about the three big ol’ meanies. My idea of a big ol’ meanie is probably not your idea of a big ol’ meanie, but if you read this post, you might get where I’m coming from.

From adventure it begins

 

 

Bik pla bagarup

Tok pisin for a major bugger-up.

Bik pla bagarup on Fraser Island: ACCESS DENIED due to fire hazard until the 5th of October. I was so, so, so excited when I got this message from QPWS today. I was jumping for joy because it wasn’t like my entire charity hike was depending on me being able to complete this section of the route or anything. POO BUM WEE X 100.

Now I really do have to go the long way around through Maryborough and on to Rainbow Beach. It’s around an extra 15km, so not too bad I guess if the distance matters, which it doesn’t, it’s the other things that mattered, well, to me anyway. I imagined swimming in lakes, relaxing at a nice campsite and having access to endless water. I’ll have to drive ahead now and waypoint campsites along the road and leave water ahead of myself. At least much of the road to Rainbow from Maryborough is forestry.

I am really hoping they don’t close the Cooloola Great Walk too because how will I get water if I have to walk along the beach? I can’t carry enough for water for five days. The walkers campsites have watertanks and there are a couple of perched lakes along the way, but there’s nothing like that on the beach. I’m not going to worry about it and when I do, I think of this:

My Nootie on the beach this morning. Nootie also known as March. Nootie is her stealth name, so when she’s in covert operations, she’s invisible because that’s what nooties are; invisible.

Hopefully no more bik pla bagarups are on the cards. This is the kind of shit you just can’t plan for. Ugh 😦

Adventure teaches equanimity

 

 

I tricked it AGAIN!

I just tricked fakebook again! Am I awesome or what!. I set up a personal fundraiser in response to the request of a few people who said they’d like to help out with my brain injury charity hike expenses:

Camping permits on Great Walks $56
Barge and ferry transfers $50
Train back home $60
Food $200
Fuel for mapping route (2700km – 3 trips) $200
Printed marketing material $150
Plus other bits and pieces
TOTAL: $716

Fakebook won’t allow you to mention certain words when you’ve got a personal fundraiser. There’s no way to know what these words are, you just have to guess or work it out from multiple failed attempts, which is an excellent way to waste half your life. I’d wasted a fair bit of my life by trying to set up a personal fundraiser before, so I thought I could get around the word-based restrictions, but the damn thing picked up on the word ‘charity’, which was on a sign in a photo. WTF!!!!

Anyway, so I tricked it by posting the exact same fundraiser, but I scrubbed out the word charity from the photo. See below.

 

   What’s the difference?

 

Innovation comes by way of adventure

Me and the Road

I wanted to do something cool today, but couldn’t come up with anything, so I decided to walk to Childers. It was a good opportunity to try out the sign I had made for the back of my pack for the charity hike I’m about to do. I also thought I should re-familiarise myself with hiking along the road.

It was cheating a bit because I got dropped off 16km out from Childers AND the pack only weighed around 10kg. I imagine it’ll weigh at least twice that when I get going on the actual hike. PLUS, I had a chocolate thickshake when I arrived in Childers after only 3.5 hours of walking. .

It’s been three years since I did my last charity hike along the road and man, I’d forgotten how damn terrible walking along the road is! There’s two reasons why it sucks: one is the traffic and the other is the shoulders. The shoulders are nearly always sloping and that makes the going very difficult because even though the slope is only really slight it’s enough to put extra pressure on one side of your body. I don’t have bad knees, even so, this does get to my knees after a bit. There’s nothing I can do about it though, so I just have to suck it up. I can’t do anything about the traffic either. After all, that’s what the road is there for. It’s hard to describe what it’s like until you’ve hiked along the road. It gives you a totally new perspective of being a motorist. Some of the stuff people do on the road is pretty unbelievable. The overtaking is the craziest. It’s for that reason that I try to walk only on the left. I nearly got hit by this crazy overtaking mofo on my last charity hike. You just get to see stuff when you’re walking that you don’t see when you’re driving. Some of it is a real eye-opener!

I didn’t really see anything particularly interesting on the 16km other than a dead bearded dragon. Poor thing 😦 I picked him up and put him in the bush near the road so he wouldn’t get all smooshed up. He’d only just been hit.

I snuck into an avocado farm and walked along the edge of the plantation for a fair way to avoid a section of road with almost no shoulder. I always get scared when I do these cheeky maneuvers  because I don’t want to get into trouble, but no one came out ranting and raving. At least  I’ve got the sign this time. I didn’t have that on the last charity hike I did.

I took this photo because it’s quintessentially Childers; cane bales set to go to fibre production with canefields in background.

While I was walking I got to wondering what it is about hiking that I like. I think the main thing that gets me is that it allows me to rise above all else because when I’m hiking, there is only hiking. I can’t go and do just one more thing (something I do to get past feeling unmotivated), I can’t tell myself that in ten minutes I will go get the washing off the line, send one more email, write 100 more words, and I can’t go and have a little lay down. I just have to keep hiking because that’s all there is. It basically absolves me of all of my responsibilities, which means I don’t worry about anything at all while I’m hiking because what would be the point? Ultimatley, it’s a way to free my mind.

Free your mind by way of adventure