Old boots new walking

These boots have seen so much action: long hikes, brutally tough remote hikes, country base camps, day walks… But I stopped walking last year, needing time to write and live. Walking takes time, the more complex the walk, the more time it sucks out of you.

But a challenge beckons. In eight weeks time, we hike the Cape to Cape trail near Margaret River in Western Australia. The seven days are not short (15-21 kms on average) and my feet are soft and my legs can run but no longer walk for hours. A full pack with tent and stove and food. So I’ve been planning some “training,” perhaps some bushwalking club walks, perhaps a two-day trial.

Yesterday I joined P and a group of walker friends in climbing up the Dandenong Ranges to One Tree Hill, an ascent and descent of 500 meters, which is substantial. Cold and drizzly and misty. 9 kms. Tough, tough, tough. Walkers I used to cruise past when I was walk-fit strolled up while I heaved and stopped, heaved and stopped. I had no idea (but should have) how far I’d let my walking fitness lapse. “How the might have fallen,” I muttered, close to tears.

But here’s the upside. This is exactly the training I need for August and it’s reasonably time efficient. I can ditch the idea of a full pack carry trial. I can aim to restore lung capacity and leg strength over the next half dozen Mondays. Best of all? I felt great after the taxing activity, just liberated. I had to be reminded how fine a hike is.

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