It’s a long weekend here in Victoria- we get Monday off to celebrate Labour Day. Which no-one does, but we very much enjoy the day off!!!
I’m spending my weekend with some very close friends- we’re off to climb a mountain. The tallest mountain in Victoria, to be precise. I’ve written about Mt Bogong before- I climbed it in November, across two days, and in February this year I did the full 22km loop in one day. This weekend is exciting because the group of eight of us are climbing it together, which is something we’ve been working towards for a long time. We’ve done a lot of training hikes, and we’ve figured out our hiking rhythm as a group. Each of us has a hiking style on our own, but to walk as group takes practice. We’ve figured out who the trail blazers are- they’ll walk at a faster pace, then pause at pre-determined resting points for the back group to catch up. That group likes to power on through, and take longer rests at intervals. Then there’s the plodders- the group that will go at a slow but steady pace. This group prefers to just keep walking, but walk slowly. This group finds it harder to get going again after frequent rests, so they’ll take less ‘big’ breaks throughout the walk.
I’ll be in the back group. I’m a loud and proud plodder- resting too frequently makes my bushwalking experience pretty painful. My legs hate me, and my mind starts focussing on the negatives. By plodding, I find a rhythm and stick to it. Going uphill I’ll take plenty of 20 second breathers, but that’s about it. I’ve recently been introduced to the Camelbak style of hydration system- it’s a bladder that sits in your backpack, with a hose that you can sip on. It stops me needing to pause my walking to get a drink bottle out, and by sipping regularly I end up drinking more water throughout the hike (I’m terrible at drinking enough normally). It also helps me regain breathe control while I’m hiking, which once again helps me to keep walking and stop less.
I’m not concerned that I’m a plodder- my style of walking gets me where I want to go, in the time that I want to get there. Practicing group hiking has been a really interesting exercise in each of us identifying our own style, and becoming comfortable with it. I think we’ve all had our moments, questioning our style (would I not be better going faster?! Why can’t I go faster?!) but ultimately we’ve all settled into something that’s comfy.
Sunday’s walk is going to be challenging. 22km is a long distance for relatively inexperienced walkers like ourselves, and it’s the longest distance some of our group have ever walked. Add into that a very steep ascent (and decent!), and we’re up for a big day. A very big day. None the less, I’m really excited to be taking this adventure with my friends, and I’m looking forward to challenge of ensuring everyone succeeds in this oddly team sport.