I’m off to climb a mountain

Staircase Spur

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!!!

final ascentI’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. bogong signMy 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.

I climbed a mountain (and a great quote from Socrates)

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted (again!!). There’s been a bit happening since I last wrote here, and there’s more to come, but I’ll write about that very soon. Perhaps even this afternoon.

In the mean time, I’ve stumbled across a quote that I love:

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

– Socrates

I did a quick google search to see if I could find a great image to go with this quote, but none of them quite matched what I picture in my head. I love this quote- it quite nicely summarizes why I’m starting to do some physical challenges at the moment: because I want to see just what I’m capable of, and what my body is capable of.

mt bogong summit
The summit of Mt Bogong

On the weekend, I climbed Mt Bogong– the tallest mountain in Victoria, and second tallest in Australia. It measures in at 1986 metres, of which I climbed about 1600. The track to the summit at 6 km long, so when you consider that I was gaining a metre’s height for every 3.75 metres I walked, you’ll understand that it’s a pretty steep ascent!

My work colleagues (and my temporary PT, actually) have all been asking me why I did the Bogong climb. Why would I want to spend two days lugging a 15kg bag on my back up a mountain, only to turn around and come back down again (having spent the night in a tent eating re-hydrated food)? There’s a couple of answers. Firstly, I’ve been looking at Mt Bogong since I was a kid and wondering if I’d ever climb it. I always assumed I wouldn’t (couldn’t?). Secondly, my dad was doing the hike and I really enjoy doing these kinds of things with him. Thirdly, I love the Australian alps. I’ve spent time in them all of my life, and I have a particular affinity to them in the summer months when the flowers are out and nothing’s covered in snow.

But the main reason (although only marginally more main than the others) relates to the Socrates quote. I wanted to see what my body is capable of. What I’ve learned is that my body is most definitely capable of climbing Mt Bogong. Today I’m sitting at my desk feeling surprisingly good. My calves are a little stiff, and my hip flexors are too, but it’s only mild. My body has taken the recovery of the climb in its stride. It was slow going getting up the mountain, but I made it- and I’m even contemplating doing it again. In one day, instead of two.

Maybe I’m a little bit crazy, but I want to know what my body is capable of- and I think it’s capable of that.