3 Hikes for Non-Hikers
"It's never too late in life to have a genuine adventure" - Robert Kurson
Maybe the outdoors have always intrigued you but you've never known where to start - the last thing you want is to embark on something that is so far out of your comfort zone that it puts you off hiking for life!
Our Ambassador Sara Piper shares with us the three hikes that made her fall in love with the trail at the age of 30.
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 specifically 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 ‘beginner’ 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 use to spot and manage bushfires. It therefore requires no navigation so I thought, "Tick! Yes - I could do this!"
From the base of the mountain to the summit is four kilometers, ascending 430 meters. I knew that 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. Another tick!
For two hours, the hike meanders through Jurassic Park-like ferns towering meters up towards the sky. An orchestra of whip birds and trickling water in the distance is enough to distract from the schlep of the steep incline.
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 having just completed my very first hike.
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. Straight away, I feel that this is my kinda hike!
At five kilometres return, Pigeon House Mountain is a short hike, but it is STEEP! The ascent is 490 meters which is assisted by a series of ladders near the summit so a head for heights is advisable.
The track is well-trodden with a large number of constructed steps and it is a popular hike so chances are there will be other walkers to share the trail with. Part way up, I’m greeted by two beaming smiles – one of a woman with a baby carrier and the other; a young girl from over mum’s shoulder. This is a sacred woman’s place indeed.
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 with Mount Budawang (my first hike) to the west.
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
“Maam, we strongly advise you NOT to go up today”
But I’d driven 300 kilometres 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: Always check the weather. I sensibly chose to come back another day.
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 skiing, but as long as it’s outside of June to October, you most likely won't need them. You can simply just walk to the top of Australia and stand on one of the World’s Seven Summits.
There is even an express route from Thredbo. The Kosciuszko Express Chairlift takes you to 1,930 meters, reducing the hike by 4 kilometres in distance. From the chairlift drop off point, it’s 13 kilometres round trip on a metal and paved pathway.
I'd heard 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 shine through on the descent and the Snowy River countryside enveloped me in it’s rugged beauty.
Little did I know that two years beforehand, when I first “topped out” on Mount Budawang, it would ignite a sense of adventure that would give me the confidence to explore not only hike more mountains but throw myself into other outdoor activities as well such as canyoning, abseiling, climbing and diving. Each experience has been different and chosen for different reasons to accomplish different goals and sometimes, I've done them solo whilst other times, with my most favourite people and meeting new friends along the way. So much has changed since Mount Budawang, for the better...but unfortunately, I still wouldn’t trust my compass skills!
Instagram | @pipersara