Month: February 2011

The Soul of a Journey: Liberty, Perfect Liberty!

I’m reading, and really enjoying, my first John Hillaby book at the moment, ‘Journey Through Britain‘, “an account,” as the back cover tells us, “of an eleven-hundred mile walk from Lands End to John O’Groats by ‘one of the world’s greatest walkers’.” I’d never heard of Hillaby before I lucked upon this 1979 edition at the Lifeline Bookfest a couple of weeks back. I always have good luck at these events if I trawl persistently enough through the several-tables-long travel section: This time my treasures included a coffee-table book of mountain photos with an intro by the great English climber Chris Bonnington; ‘Turn Right at Land’s End’, another account of a long trek (7,000 miles!) by fellow Englishman John Merrill “around the entire British coastline”; and ‘The Walk West’, the sequel by Peter Jenkins (this time with his wife, Barbara) to his ‘A Walk Across America’, which I scored at an earlier Bookfest and is still waiting in my to-read pile. l have pretty broad tastes when it comes to reading, but my shelf space …

Finding My Feet in Blogland

It’s hot. I’m counting down the days till Autumn. Queensland in the Summer is no place or time to be an obsessive walker. Not for me. And I don’t have a car, don’t want a car, and this is a big country — a big, hot country, with most of the good hikes a fair distance from Club Mountaingoat. I walked 2,155 miles last year, April to September, from the Mexican border… the Washington border on the PCT: It’s the hardest thing I’ve done. I earned a reputation for quitting, in fact. Some days it was only the thought of reaching somewhere convenient to quit that kept me going. From about mid-California north, I realised I wasn’t having fun — not consistently anyway. But what is that oft-quoted Mark Twight line about it not having to be fun to be fun? Exactly. So on I trudged, till I ran out of time and quit one state early. Washington will keep. After that, I came back to Australia for two weeks. I didn’t walk much …

En route to the northern frontier

Hokkaido Bound in a Floating Bathtub

LATE MARCH, 2008. I was up on the hill among the crumpled ramparts of Sendai Castle, looking down on the city, the languid river, in my rabbit-fur hat and lugging my monkey. The Monkey: my big, new, brutally heavy pack. We were getting in a spot of sight-seeing before I departed for Hokkaido that night. I wasn’t taking it easy on my last free day, though — I’d hiked up there from a friend’s apartment downtown. Raising a sweat hauling that beast through the City of Trees and up to this mossy 17th-century pile of rock had felt real. Two young tourists in fashionable denim and leather and heels obliged when I asked them to take my photo . “Where are you…? Eh, nani? Go? Go-ing?” “Un!” Her friend. “Where are you going?” “Hokkaido tomorrow. And then walking.” “Walking, un!” A glance at my pack. “To Kyushu.” “Ehhhhh?! KYUSHU? By walking?! But Kyushu is very far place!” “Yeah.” “EHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?!” The ferry was a mini-ocean liner, with several floors, an abundance of cabins, restaurants, a stage …

Someone has too much time on their hands

Lament for a Lost Lead Weight

A landscape, like a man or woman, acquires character through time and endurance ~ Edward Abbey, ‘A Voice Crying in the Wilderness’ Walking to the station today, enjoying the blazing morning sun, I happened to glance into a local’s cactus garden. And that got me thinking about deserts, and old Edward ‘Cactus Ed’ Abbey, and cacti, which transported me back to the first days on the Pacific Crest Trail last year.