H is for Hiking
I have a ‘Life List’. My Life List is a list of everything I want to do while I am still young enough to enjoy it. In that respect, it is very different to a Bucket List – which is essentially a list of everything you want to do before you die. Personally, as a 53 year old woman, I’m not prepared to wait that long – I want to do awesome stuff right now.
In terms of my A-Z Life List, ‘H is for Hiking’.
I have set myself the challenge to go on at least one epic hike a year. I plan to mix up the locations, the length of the hike, the amount of weight I carry, the level of support provided by the trekking company, and the level of the challenge. Some hikes will be luxurious, some will be fully supported, some partially supported and some will involve going it alone with a hiking buddy or two, a map and a compass. My target locations include:
- The Larapinta (completed in May 2022)
- The 3 Capes (completed in October 2022)
- The Overland (completed in November 2022)
- The Great Ocean Walk
- Fraser Island
- Cape to Cape WA
- The Bungle Bungles
- The Inca Trail
- Fitz Roy Trek
- Orres Del Paine Circuit
- The Annapurna Circuit
- The Arctic Circle Trail
- Camino Primitivo, Camino de Santiago, Spain
- Dolomite High Route, Italy
- Lycian Way, Turkey
- Iceland Trail, Iceland
My first epic hiking challenge was to walk 130 km of the 223 km Larapinta Trail, which runs from Alice Springs along the spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. The experience was without question a million times harder than I could possibly have imagined or prepared for — physically, emotionally and mentally. For mine, it was a cross between Survivor, SAS and The Hunger Games.
But here’s the thing — just like experiencing childbirth, the more time that passes since a gruelling hike, the more value I seem to gain from the experience and the more inclined I am to go back for more. Go figure. I call this ‘latent enjoyment’ – one of my hiking buddies calls it ‘Type 2 Fun’.
And to make sure I get the most out of each hike (and to be honest, every single goal on my Life List), I spend time after completing a goal to acknowledge my growth and lessons and to express my gratitude for the experience. Here are my lessons from The Larapinta trek:
- The Larapinta trail is rocky. Very rocky. Pretty much 85% of what you walk on, look at, sit on, scramble up, trip over and fall on is….rock. The rocks are spectacular and amongst the oldest on earth at old 2000 million years old.
- When I hike I fall over. Every single time. Seriously, WTAF?
- Don’t sleep under the stars unless you want mice to run across your face.
- A trek rated ‘epic’ on its website is not for the faint hearted or chicks who are worried about falling over or for people hoping not to trip and die.
- Shake your sleeping bag out every single night because spiders love to snuggle.
- Don’t squat over spinifex grass when you need to do a ‘bush wee’ – this stuff is not soft and wispy so much as spiky, hard as nails, arrow tipped barbs that, if you get one imbedded in your bum cheek, hurt a bloody lot and are very hard to extract. Trust me on this one.
- Commencing a hike at 1.30am (after going to bed at about 8pm) wearing a head torch and climbing a mountain for four hours in the dark is definitely worth it for the most stunningly spectacular sunrise on earth.
- I now know without a doubt that I can do absolutely anything — anything — that I set my mind to. I am powerful and I am strong. I really am.
- It was supremely wonderful to take an extended break from the constant, incessant accessibility of my mobile phone and laptop. I spent a good part of the week in my brain on my own and I have decided it’s a pretty good place to hang out. And while I was reluctant to reconnect to wifi, the afternoon the hike ended the pull of making sure my kids were still alive and sharing with them the news that their mum is a hardcore SAS rockstar was too strong. I called home and revelled in their admiration and cried when they told me how proud they were of me.
- And most importantly — it is very, very okay to prioritise myself and my needs and my Life List without any sense of guilt. I absolutely deserve to live an exceptional, stupendous life without limits — a life that is a little more selfish — and that’s what I plan to do.
How about you? What’s on your Life List?
This is an edited extract from Kate Christie’s The Life List: Master Every Moment and Live an Audacious Life. Published with the permission of the author and Wiley.