Day 10, Dwellingup
It is a happy goose writing today, a clean and fed and maybe overfed goose. A scrubbed and relaxed and stocked up and chilled out goose writing from the Dwellingup chalets and caravan park. It is a lighter goose, who, having walked thus far with a large pack weighing between, say, 19kg down to 15kg, has just sent almost 4kg of gear back home and is anticipating some real nice, light step, quick step walking from here on in.
Basically I’ve been hanging out with Swami for a few days, a very limber, fit and striding Swami who walks with a tiny pack not *much* bigger than a day pack and who has walked many, many, many miles around the world and is like a ripe fig tree of experience for a curious and determined goose. I would like to share some of Swami’s wisdom. “Every pound of weight on your feet is like five pounds on your back.” “Walk up the hills with your heart and down the hills with your legs.” “Baby, baby, baby oh.” (Thanks Justin Bieber for planting that ear worm). Me: You’ve walked the [insert random trail from anywhere in the world] haven’t you, Swami. Swami: course I have.
So I’ve been keeping pace with Swami for a few days, trying to increase my track fitness perhaps a little bit quicker than would have happened otherwise, to learn to tolerate walking during the middle of a hot day, to find out I that can walk faster than I think I can and to simply enjoy the company and conversation of a pretty delightful person. It was all going great until the second day when we were going for a double hut to Gringer Creek – anticipating a burger at the North Banister roadhouse – and walking through the middle of the day. “You can go go a teeny bit faster if you want,” Goose to Swami. Swami lengthens stride slightly (noticibly) and the Goose determinedly follows. Now what the Goose is really just learning and experiencing is that it’s far better to walk at a more modest pace that works across changes in the terrain: hills and dales etc, than it is to go for it hard on the flat and then have to slow right down for the uphills. After an hour or so determined Goose becomes dogged Goose, and another hour, dogged Goose become desperate Goose. Then with pounding head, queasy belly, pouring sweat and sudden indifference to the tick-crawling path, all there seems left to do is to put down pack, close eyes, pant and start to whimper slightly, trying not to spew. Oh hello heat stroke. I know you. Have you come to visit again? Damn. I thought I’d learned enough from you in our past encounters.
So it is to a miserable and hot goose on the track that Swami gives Gastrolyte, M&Ms, wet bandannas and Neurofen. It is a grateful and chastened Goose who waits it out on the path while Swami picks off the occasional tick that has crawled on. It is a sober and hopefully wiser Goose who eventually finds the impetus to stagger to her feet again and plod on to the hut with Swami’s small pack swapped for her own. Swami: My God, girl! How do you walk with this thing!
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So it seems that I’m still learning my limits and my good rhythm and how to pace myself. I know have a few tricks for coping with the heat (it seems to be more that than dehydration as such that really gets me down) and more than anything, the good way to avoid it all is to get a nice and early start, say at 5:30 or so, and get a good lot of kilometres done before the sun’s even above the trees.
Must fly. Meeting Phoebs for a beer at the Dwellingup pub.
PS. The track is beautiful, the trees are magnificent, the goannas charming, the snakes few, the Black Cockatoos happily squarking, the wallabies a sheer hopping delight, the ticks relentless, the flies a fairly constant presence, and the Goose, even heat-struck and sometimes footsore, is content, at peace, loving it, and just lapping it up.