Hi. I’m Lou. When I started hiking I was a tired, chubby and forty something woman wanting to be a fit and forty something hiking goddess. And now I am! But now I’m fifty, stronger and more courageous than ever. How did this all come about? Well…..
I’ve always been fascinated by nature, the stars and all things sciencey. As kids we camped a lot and Mum showed us how to appreciate a sunset, an unusual cloud formation or an odd branch on a tree. But as I aged and became more focused on myself and material things, earning an income and climbing the corporate ladder, I became more of a five star kinda girl. Camping? Pffft. Only if the tent has air con and a hairdryer!
I dabbled in camping about once a year with an annual girls trip to Tamworth Music Festival with my sister, camping illegally on Peel Street, trying to evade the local council ranger but that was just too much slummin’ it for me. So for a good 10 years or so, I was not to be found anywhere in my leisure time other than a hotel room or resort with obligatory cocktail in hand. I still loved walking but only on nice paved paths by the beach in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney or Central Coast until about two years ago.
My husband Kane’s good mate and his wife asked us to go camping at Hat head on the NSW North Coast. I was far from keen but essentially guilted by Kane into being a good Mum and taking the kids on an adventure. I was expecting to hate it but I loved it! Bacon and egg sandwiches for breaky, watching the kids ride off on their bikes exploring, sitting around a campfire at night, standup paddling in the ocean, hiking. There had been talk of an Overland track holiday in Tassy that sounded nice in what were initially high level discussions.
My first thoughts were, oh that would be lovely, nice hot showers at the end of the day, gourmet meals, wines while admiring the views in the evening. They just laughed. This was more of a 6 day, 5 night trek into the alpine wilderness with everything on your back….. tent, clothes, food, water, poo shovel, bedding, one set of clothes for 6 days, toiletries (not including soap) and not much else. Umm…would my hairdryer fit?
Then out of the blue in January 2018, we got the call…”We are booking flights to Tassy now. You coming?” Kane and I looked at each other and thought, “WTF, why not.” And that’s where I literally started shitting myself.
I’m a control freak. That’s probably what makes me a good intensive care nurse. One of the ways I maintain control is by researching the sh!t out of everything. I need to know the in’s and out’s. My early research found that this hike was bloody hard. People train for this. I was 87kgs and unfit. I’m gonna hold them all up my friends or have to be choppered out of there! Is it too late to pull out? Probably. So I started the process of “finding my feet”.
Initially this entailed doing small hikes in my local national parks with weights in a crappy K-Mart backpack and, in overexcitment, purchasing very expensive, heavy and unnecessary gear from Kathmandu/Anaconda.
With more and more research I realised what a dickhead I was. This hiking business is all about being light. Every damn gram counts. Hiking gear is super technical. So I spent countless hours trawling hiking blogs and handing over yet more money for lighter gear, started cutting off the ends of combs and toothbrushes, trialled dehydrated foods, researched the right sleep system (yes I also wondered WTF that was too initially), created a lightweight cooking system, bought rain protection gear, dry bags etc.
Turns out I bloody loved this process. I met people on my local tracks who had done the Overland, who gave me great advice. I connected with nature, enjoying encounters with trees, snakes, whales, lizards and the very illusive Wyrrabalong wallaby. And in the process of preparing for the Overland, I rediscovered my love for nature and the outdoors.
Hiking, is the perfect fit for me, especially with my shift work. I started small, lost some weight, got fitter and stronger, kept it real and now I’m hooked. Even better than that, I nailed that Overland track in January 2019. Well nailed might be a stretch but I did it. Not bad for an otherwise lazy, Netflix watching, chocolate and wine loving overeater. I’ve had lots of adventures now and still can’t get enough. What’s next? A 12 day solo in Victoria’s south west and some multi day hikes in New Zealand with KK if we can ever get back. I hope I inspire you to find your feet too ❤
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