The elusive Cairn Creek Hut,
Mt Bogong 2018
To say I was unprepared for the AAWT would be an understatement. Mish called, saying she needed a new hiking partner for the final 3rd of her 650km hike from Victoria to Canberra. Having zero gear and even less experience, I felt like the perfect man for the job.
I had three days to quit my jobs, move out of my house and get down to Canberra for a lift to Thredbo. Once there it was decided my high school joggers with holes in them weren’t going to be sufficient, I bought some decent ones and was gifted my very first spork (a fetching hot pink). Before you knew it we were setting out from Thredbo the next morning.
Before we’d even left though, a young hiker came back into town having decided to quit the hike after 400km, his leg pain and the weather proving too much for him. To prove this ill omen didn’t worry me, I held in the vomit that’d been trying to escape my body for the first 20 minutes (the cold and lack of sleep over the past few days catching up). It worked and I think I’d have made a very promising new companion to Michelle if I hadn’t been holding my compass upside down.
But eventually I adapted. The long walks and the incredible cold make the warm food and sleeping bag at the end of the day all the more comforting. On the second night, we were somewhat forced into becoming the two most elevated sleepers in Australia, having lost the track over the Main Range in the snow. A brief flirtation with hypothermia was not enough to take away from the astonishing views and the incredible feeling of your body becoming an energy burning, mountain ascending machine.
There is something very satisfyingly primal about a lack of reception, screens or even standards of cleanliness (the latter of which I’ve never particularly adhered to anyway). Long stretches of isolation, no news from the outside world and fresh food, people always ask me if I got bored but honestly, there was no time to. With all the planning, the eating and 8 hour plus of sleep every night, boredom just wasn’t an option. Not to mention that when you know you're walking to Canberra, every kilometer comes with a tremendous sense of worth.
Then all of a sudden the hike was over. It was a very rude shock. During the hitch into town our driver told us that gay marriage was passed (finally)! Somehow society didn’t collapse and I was able to enjoy my first shower in 15 days. I’ve definitely got the bug, so stay tuned for more of my zany adventures of ill-preparation in the mountains!
Now this was a biggy. I remember first finding out about this hike when I was 23. My dad took me on a 3 day hike up Mt Feathertop, finishing at Mt Hotham. I was absolutely blown away. As we walked higher and the trees started to thin out to beautiful alpine meadows I remember thinking ‘this is it, these are the places I want to know more about.’
For some background, the AAWT is a 650km hike of mountainous and often remote walking from Walhalla (VIC) to Tharwa (ACT) across the great diving range. I spent a year planning and preparing for it with my friend Chris. To my complete surprise and pleasure I managed to complete it on the 18th of December 2017 in 43 days! It was an epic challenge to say the least and touch and go in parts managing injuries. I had a surprise hiking partner change 2/3rds into the hike which found Mickey on his first overnighter, which just happened to be 212km!
Yes yes the hike changed me and all that, I just don't think that you can do something this out of your comfort zone and not have it affect you? I definitely came back wanting more. I have since decided that some of the more rewarding experiences come with being a little apprehensive and uncomfortable (physically and mentally). Couldn't recommend it enough. x
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