It was only a few weeks ago that I set off on an adventurous 3 day hike in the Grampians with my partner. It was very difficult to know what to expect, I knew it would be physically challenging but nothing can prepare you for first time experiences.  We carried both our food, water and shelter and had to be mindful of how much water we carried with us each day between camps as there was very little if no water along the way.

The first day the climb was challenging, at times we scrambled up rocks and although we felt fresh from a big breakfast it involved using muscles I hadn’t used before. It was painful and hard to keep going and having thoughts only made it worse. Yes that’s right, like when an athlete runs a race they don’t think about how to run the race they just run. When I stayed in my body breathing and being aware it eased off the amount of energy I used applying cognitive overlays to the pain and panic I felt. Breathing and being non-judgmental with a spirit of equanimity for the emerging sensations of my body helped me continue to climb up and up until we eventually reached Bugiga. 

The second day challenged me in different ways. The climb wasn’t as extreme but the distance was longer. Like the never ending pathway, my body tired and struggling to keep going I was taking steps but not feeling a great deal of enthusiasm just looking for the end. I wasn’t down and out, I wasn’t joyful yet I persisted continuing one step at a time in hope the end was soon. We finally made it to Borough huts, shaky, dizzy and ready for sleep. We rallied one another with a sense of comradery to hoist the tent, make the dinner and then crashed out by about 7pm.

The final day began with a deer sighting in the clearing where we camped, along with a couple of kookaburras who I was convinced were laughing at our human struggle. I had a skip in my step as we set off through a flat bush walk landscape, I felt belonging and at one with nature. My partner stopped me to tune into the wind whistling through the trees, the sun gleaming in-between and dancing with the shadows and the wallabies that popped up every now and then were delightful. But soon enough just as the woman at the information centre warned us the ‘undulating’ land presented us with the ups and downs of day three. Sure I was pumped to be heading home to a hot shower, food other than wraps, granola, nuts, and salmon pasta but it didn’t come easily. My body burned, my breathing became the force that expanded my heart and powered up my tired legs. Pain thresholds were expanded and I am sure new muscles were formed. Oh and a bull ant bit me through my leggings and my poor leg was swollen and red- right on my muscle. But because I didn’t see it until afterwards I had the idea this hardness in my leg was indeed my new formed muscles! Thanks goodness I didn’t see it until later..

Despite the challenges this was one of my most favourite experiences. I loved being in nature, I loved pushing past the limits of my body and mind and I loved being able to support and be supported by my partner to achieve this incredible goal together. What is a life without challenge? I say it’s not living at all. 

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