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…
..to 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 for that time, just up to the shops for a coffee or to look at the ocean. I gathered my strength, ate like a wild beast, caught up with friends and family, and boarded another plane. This time I went to Switzerland to be with my girlfriend for a few months. My first time in Europe. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. My girlfriend and I had a lot of catching up to do, and that was cool enough, but the hiking… I walked almost every day there, with Sarah or alone — good long walks, little expeditions through farmland…
..and medieval towns and cities:
I came home broke, in debt, and couldn’t find regular work. At the moment I’m getting by on relief teaching. And every day I wish I was walking.
I live in a beautiful part of bayside Brisbane. When I’m working, I like to get up at 5:00 and do a quick bike ride along the waterfront, with the sun just peeking up over Moreton Island and the old Victorian pier in perfect silhouette:
If I’m lucky, the seductive caress of a dawn sea breeze. Half an hour is enough for me. I don’t feel at home on a bike, but it’s exercise. I work indoors and that brief contact with nature helps wake me up, calm me down, and accept what fate has in store for me in the classroom.
When I’m (ugh) “training” for a multi-month walk, I’ll often substitute a backpack loaded with heavy books for the bike, give the back and legs and feet a taste of the pleasures in store for them. Poor bastards. Then I’ll try to do an hour, most mornings (longer on weekends), throw in some stair running (uhh) up my arch-foe, the Shorncliffe steps, and vary my route through the suburbs and along the cycling/walking paths with which we are blessed out here, or even across the sand flats offshore:
I hate exercise and boredom is my greatest foe. I think that’s what I love most about long hikes: not knowing what’s round the bend. I am a creature of habit but not everything we find comfortable is good for us. Just watch the ads (for gawd’s sake, not the actual show!) for ‘The Biggest Loser’ as proof.
I’m still finding my feet (great pun, Goat) on this blog. I have no idea what kind of readers (if any) I have and why anyone would want to read it. My loosely defined objective was to write about walking from a personal perspective, but I’m tampering with the boundaries, eg the review I did as the previous post. I would like to do more reviews of books or films with a walking or ‘outdoors’ theme, toss in some pertinent quotes or observations by others, link to other like-minded ambulation addicts… I’m still experimenting. There are a hundred styles of blog. Anecdotes with pictures from my walking adventures will still be the mainstay, though. Like a hiking journal after all the pages got scattered in a freak storm.
There will come a time, and I don’t think it’s too far around that bend I mentioned, when I’ll be in hiking country again, maybe even (yeah!) doing another Big One. I’m keeping my plans Top Secret at the moment, but I mention it now because the whole style of the blog will change at that point — I’ll be posting “from the field”. The details and pictures will be fresh and clear.
I fear it’s too late now to start living any kind of conventional life. Meanwhile, I hope you find some stuff in here to keep you entertained while I count down the days to the next Big One. That would make me one very happy Goat.