This weekend it was time to go one step further with the training. It’s all very well that I can climb lots of steps but I now needed to make sure I could last for more than an hour at a time out on a track so it was time to find a bush track to practice a bit of endurance.

When I looked into the options for bushwalking there were plenty, there’s stretches of the Bibbulmum Track I could do, there are several walks in the John Forest National Park and a number of tracks around Mundaring Weir. I chose what I considered was a relatively easy walk but if I’ve learned anything this weekend it’s not to believe what you read or at least not read into it what you want to see.

After much deliberation I decided to do a 9km trek starting from Bells Rapids in the Swan Valley. I printed off directions and instructions and even bought a compass. Not that I’m generally directionally challenged but the directions included compass headings so I figured a compass would come in handy. Let’s put it this way, I would have been lost (pun intended) without it.

I spent Friday evening packing a small backpack (working my way up to the PROPER daypack), making sure I had water, snacks, bandaids, flyspray, camera etc. etc.

Saturday morning I was awake with the birds at the crack of dawn – nothing like a new adventure to get you motivated – and I was at the starting point of the trail by 8.15am.

The walk started at the long bridge over the rapids. There was a clear blue sky but the wind had a certain chill to it. I took a breath and set off over the bridge.

A minute or two later and the idyllic morning turned difficult. To be precise, the terrain turned difficult. I rounded a bend and the track rose vertically in front of me. Well, maybe vertically is a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the picture. It was a fair incline.

As my legs, used as they are to the steps we normally train on, adjusted to the uneven ground, I must admit that my mind was thinking ‘this is good, I’m likely to encounter this sort of think on THE TREK, I need to be able to cope with it.’ So cope with it I did.

The views on the way up the track and from the top were certainly worth the trouble. Despite the gusting winds on the top of Mt Mambup, I took a seat on a rock, had a swig of water, ate a protein bar and appreciated where I was, literally and figuratively.

Unfortunately though, it was after this relaxing moment that I came unstuck. The aforementioned purchase of the compass had been a godsend up to now and I had navigated my way up the track and across the grassland without too much trouble. Now though I had trouble.

The directions I had printed off from the website gave detailed directional instructions but no distances, just the likes of ‘head initially NNE to cross the grassy summit area and then continue NE-ward down the initial gentle hillside.’ Ok, how far before I go from NNE to NE? ‘Find the gap in the rocks to head eastward more steeply downhill then veer north,’ aaaargh!!!!

It did give GPS points but it also said at the beginning that  a GPS wasn’t essential. Needless to say I don’t have a GPS.

I tried various routes off the top of the hill but when it says things like ‘follow the track back up the hillside,’ and you haven’t actually found the track in the first place, life becomes a little worrying.

After a while I gave up and decided to go back down the way I had come. Not so easy, that didn’t seem to work either. Do you think I could actually find the track I came up on?

Anyway, I set off in the general direction of down, hit a few hurdles, in the way of impassable routes and fences that needed climbing over, but eventually chanced upon a track that looked familiar and was heading in the right direction. I had survived my own little drama.

It was on the way down that I was really able to appreciate the views and the wildflowers. It’s the perfect time of the year to see the wildflowers at their best here in Western Australia. I’m no expert and I haven’t got a clue what they’re called but these looked lovely.

I finally made it back down to the river, none the worse for the experience and quite proud of the fact that I had done it by myself and not panicked. Let’s face it, panic gets us nowhere.

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