Last Friday I set out for my second Going Solo hike. I headed back out to Werribee Gorge and took the track that I had planned to go on the first week.
It’s a hot day. The sun beats down on my head and as I put one foot in front of the other I’m reminded of hiking with my folks when I was young.
Mum and Dad took us out bushwalking often and sometimes, in fact most times, I would get about five minutes into the bushwalk and think, ‘I’ve had enough. It’s hot. I want to go back. I don’t like this. It’s hard work and I don’t think I can do it. My head’s starting to hurt, my legs are starting to hurt and the flies are annoying me.’
But Mum and Dad refused to listen to me. We kept walking. We went on day hikes, overnight hikes and three day hikes.
And what I remember now is as out I came of each hike, back to the road, back to civilization, there was always this feeling of exhilaration. That I’d made it out okay. That I could conquer this, conquer the walk, and I could conquer myself.
But I seemed to forget that every time I started to walk again.
What I’m learning as I tackle my weekly hikes is that I can conquer it even though at times it‘s hard.
There are times as at the start, or as I walk, that I think, ‘Crap. Why am I doing this? This is ridiculous. My head is starting to hurt. It’s hot. How far have I got to go?’
But perhaps one of the lessons I’ve learnt is that I can actually stop and have a rest. And that tiny moment, it may only be thirty seconds, maybe longer, gives my head enough space to relieve itself, calm down, cool down.
In doing this I can hike ten kilometres up and down hills in the heat, and challenge myself beyond what may feel okay (especially as I’ve started both of these hikes with a migraine, and survived).
I come toward the end of my second hike and I’m doing okay. My head’s a bit on edge, ready to flare up, but I keep stopping for a break in a bit of shade.
It feels like a great metaphor for a life in itself. Often I look the enormity of life and it is too hard. It can seem unachievable to do the task that’s needed to push through. It hurts us either physically or mentally and we get in the way of ourselves.
I can take this lesson from walking into life: to be a little kinder to myself, and to take a moment when it feels too hard. Take mini break, a little bit of relief for myself. And then keep going because the feeling of completion is awesome.
I see the road signalling the end of the walk and my first thought is that I want to keep going even though I know it’s probably a good time to stop. I need to get back to the car so I can get home in time for the kids coming home from school. My head would probably like me to rest, and once I stop my legs will most likely be tired and sore.
I zoom back down the highway with all of those footsteps and thoughts buzzing through my head. I feel refreshed from everything I’ve seen and heard along the way: waterfalls, kangaroos, echidnas, birds, trees creaking and silence. It has all helped carve out more space in my brain for creativity.