Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tasmania: Mt. Wellington, Hobart.

This is the first of many Tasmania photo stories I'll be posting on the blog over the next couple of weeks. November seems so far away now, especially since I've spent almost a month in an entirely different country since then, but I will never forget a day like this one: setting out to hike around Hobart's Kunanyi/Mt. Wellington (1271m above sea level), only to end up hiking all the way to the top and back down again.

This took Martin and I 8.5 hours, and in the end I think we walked something like 22 kilometers (but that's a guesstimate: I didn't record the hike on my phone so that's just a calculation we made after adding all the trail distances listed on Google Maps). We were, to put it mildly, wrecked. Talk about redefining the meaning of the word “holiday”.

Climbing this mountain together was, in many ways, symbolic: from 2013, Martin had two major leg operations within 6 months, followed by a year of unemployment. Even with a bad knee, Martin pushed on through the whole climb, never once complaining or wanting to turn around, even when I asked if he wanted to. I couldn't be prouder—I don't know many people with two healthy knees that would want to climb up a mountain that one could easily drive to the top of for a total of 20 minutes.

Going to Tasmania was our reward for making it through all that, but spontaneously climbing a mountain and making it without breaking down, breaking up, or breaking a limb was more rewarding than anything else I could have put in the itinerary.

There is something so special about experiencing nature in this way. It's one of the many things I loved about Borneo. Had we driven, rather than walked, we would never have been able to appreciate how the vegetation changed the higher up we got; or watch Hobart from above, as it got smaller and further away from us. We would never have admired how many different species of flora were in a single square metre, knowing that there were many more we couldn't even see. Most of all, we never would have had the bonding experience we shared as we encouraged each other whenever one of us felt like we couldn't possibly go on.

In the mountains, when things get rough and you're on your own, you're vulnerable to anything. Perhaps that's part of the thrill: the element of risk. You can really get to know nature in all its forms, depending on what mood she's in. We had limited water and only a few protein bars with us, because we hadn't intended on being out for as long as we did*. You're vulnerable in an emotional, mental way, too. It gets truly personal. You are forced not only to have a direct experience with your surroundings, but also with yourself. All your weaknesses and mental chatter come to the fore—but the reward when you get to the top (and then to the bottom) is knowing you overcame your own demons, some of them never to return.

*Note: we are normally pretty prepared travellers & hikers. We would never recommend hiking without bringing torches, extra clothing (waterproof/water-resistant clothing recommended), toilet paper (the biodegradable type), and extra food and water. We had none of those things with us, and we could have been in some serious, stranded trouble had one of us gotten injured or had the weather decided to change, so we are not by any means glorifying our lack of foresight and lack of planning!

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