Hikes for non-hikers.
At 30 years of age I’d never hiked a single trail. Sure, I’d walked through the bush and spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, but I’d never set out to immerse myself in the landscape.
I couldn’t read a compass, I’d never owned a pair of hiking boots and to my knowledge a Camelbak was the top of a large smelly desert animal.
Here is my personal account of three ‘beginners’ hikes that introduced me to a world of adventure. None of which require any special equipment or skill.
Mount Budawang – Budawang National Park
Mount Budawang hike is a fire trail. That is to say a track a vehicle can travel to spot and manage bushfires. It therefore requires no navigation. Tick - I could do this.
From the base of the mountain to the summit is four kilometers, ascending 430 meters. Meaning I’d have to stop and rest a few times with my hands on my knees and the voice inside my head questioning “Why the f*ck are you doing this?!” … but there is no technical climbing or scrambling required. Tick, tick.
The hike meanders through Jurassic Park-like ferns towering meters above head height. An orchestra of whip birds and trickling water in the distance is enough to distract from the schlep of the steep incline.
Then two hours of heavy panting later, BAM! Like magic the trees part and the reward for my efforts is served with breathtaking views across Morton National Park.
I’m awash with a sense of pride and gratitude.
Pigeon House Mountain Didthul – Morton National Park
The sign at the base of Pigeon House Mountain explains its dual name Didthul was given to the mountain by local Aboriginal people. There are a number of understandings of the word including some cultural practices that are sacred to women.
This is my kinda hike.
At 5 kilometers return Pigeon House Mountain is a short hike, but it’s steep! The ascent is 490 meters which is assisted by a series of ladders near the summit. A head for heights is advisable.
The track is well trodden with a large number of constructed steps and there were plenty of other hikers on the track this day. Part way up I’m greeted by a two beaming smiles – one of a women wearing a baby carrier the other, a young girl from over mum’s shoulder. This is a sacred women’s place.
About an hour later, with both hands on the railing I nervously shuffle up the ladders. And then I’m met with awe-inspiring views. To the far west I see Mount Budawang.
To my delight I had the summit to myself for a good half hour. I sat. I reflected. I set goals. Then I hightailed it back down, double-timing with an extra spring in my step.
Mount Kosciuszko, Kosciuszko National Park
“Mam, we strongly advise you NOT to go up today”
But I’ve driven 300 kilometers to get here.
“There’s a lightning cell coming through in the next hour. You don’t want to be at Australia’s highest point on a track made of metal”
Rookie lesson no 1: Check the weather. Really, check the weather.
Whilst Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest peak at 2228 meters, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. I’m yet to master cross country skis, but as long as it’s not June through to October you don’t need them. Just walk to the top of Australia. The highest point in the country. One of the World’s Seven Summits. It’s that simple.
Oh, and there’s an express route. Yes, please! I chose to catch the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to 1,930 meters, reducing the hike by 4 kilometers in distance. From the chairift drop off point it’s 13 kilometers round trip on metal and paved pathway. Easy peasey.
I hear the 360 degree views from the summit are something to behold, but the cloud had set in and I may as well have been in middle earth. Fragments of blue sky did prevail on the descend and the Snowy River countryside enveloped me in it’s rugged beauty. The stuff poems are made from.
Little did I know two years ago when I first “topped out” on Mount Budawang I’d be inspired to hike several of the mountains that comprised the view I looked upon. It ignited a sense of adventure that would give me the confidence to explore new things - canyoning, abseiling, climbing, diving and the list continues to grow.
Each experience is different. Done for different reasons, accomplishing different things. Sometimes solo, sometimes with my most favourite people and sometimes meeting new friends along the way.
And I still wouldn’t trust my compass skills.
Written by our Ambassador Sara Piper