Tuesday 19 October 2010

Hike Day 1 - Canberra to Tharwa

Bob says: Go forth!

We started off early on the Saturday morning, to be at parliament just after 7. There were speeches to remind us why we were doing the hike (and Simon read from Paulo Coehlo’s The Pilgrimage) and then we each received an ndoro. (Inspired by the fact that pilgrims of old – and new, I suppose – get a token of their pilgrimage, we each got an ndoro, a metal copy of the shells that were once used as currency in Zimbabwe.) Each hiker received one and gave one to someone else.

And then we started walking ….

The first day we had to cover 32km (or 33km or 36km, depending on who was telling you) and most of it was through the suburbs of Canberra. Not very inspiring. We were following a cycle track out of the city and several times had to hotfoot it across freeways in the style of wild animals. I felt very much like an extra in Watership Down.

The only real landmark we passed was The Lodge, where the prime minister lives. Note absence of security – Australia is a very safe place!

Morning tea was meant to be at a greasy spoon, but to everyone’s disappointment it was shut. We had a quick snack outside, then trudged on.

Lunch was on the shores of Lake Tuggeranong, a little delayed by us going the wrong way round the lake (and getting caught in the rain).

The afternoon was more of the same. More rain too – though fewer houses and occasional more exciting glimpses of countryside.

The last stretch of the road seemed endless. Mile after mile (or kilometre after kilometre) on the side of the road, asphalt underfoot. Lots of cows (and calves), lots of sore feet (and calves).

We finally reached the Outward Bound where we were staying around 5. Hot showers followed by chicken curry.

I climbed into my bunk (it was the top bunk in a stack of three, right under the ceiling) and wondered how I would get out of it if my legs seized up in the night. Sleep was a long time coming as I started to realise just what I might be letting myself in for.

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