In the spirit of Lenin the hiker, I would like to offer the following tips for walking in the mountains hereabouts.
1. Keep your rucksack snug on your back, for otherwise it swings wildly and sends you careening down precipices.
2. Equally, tie your boots firmly, for otherwise the gentle rubbing over 30 km has the curious knack of producing blisters.
3. Harry high-pants! If not, that couple of centimetres between belt and rucksack has a tendency to pinch and rub.
4. Avoid precipitous descents and climbs, with tree roots, fallen logs, mud and leaches … when the sun is setting!
5. Set yourself reasonable targets with a laden rucksack, full of food, water, camping gear and whatnot for a few days. Otherwise, you enter a liminal zone and arrive at your stop in a bewildered state.
6. Speaking of leaches, be generous: give blood for a good cause. They need it. So refrain from using salt, insect repellent or burning cigarette ends on those innocent creatures.
7. Carry enough water. You never know if you will need to pitch camp – yes, a tent is the only way to sleep – in a dry location.
8. Washing? That’s part of conspiracy by manufacturers of soap, shampoo and detergent. Since the vast majority of human beings throughout our history have had two washes in their lives, at birth and death, let the natural colonies of bacteria flourish. Take socks, for instance: you can switch feet and then turn them inside out on each consecutive day. That evens the wear, for at least four days or more. And the seriously powerful aroma of days-old socks is a wonder to behold. The same applies to undies.
On my recent stroll, I can claim to have adhered to only the last three, at least on the first day. It was a hike, in my beloved Watagan Mountains, with three mountain ranges each way, on a track with a devil-may-care attitude to the niceties of gentle inclines and declines. That’s for wimps. Straight up and down is the way to go.
There was the track, idyllic one moment …
… impossible to discern the next:
There was the backpack, made by my late father, with food, water, camping gear and clothes for a few days:
Ah no, this is it:
Note the Harry high-pants:
There was the tree:
The camping spot:
The cooking fire:
The extraordinary views:
The glimpse of what I needed to climb to get home:
And there was the wombat turd. They like a clean slate to do their thing:
Can’t wait for another dose.