Larapinta Trail

LESSONS LEARNT FROM 14 DAYS HIKING

Last June I tackled the 14-day, Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory. I like to keep a small diary every day that I am hiking, I won’t use up pack space for a journal, so I usually just scribble some thoughts down on some shreds of paper. These dusty scrolls end up covered in my spindly handwriting and are often forgotten about, sitting in drawers, collecting dust in cupboards, or, in the case of my diary from the Larapinta Trail, they remain in the bottom of my backpack.

I stumbled across my writing while preparing for a day hike around Melbourne. Once I had deciphered my scratchy hieroglyphic handwriting, I was able to look back on the 14-day hike with fresh eyes and a clear head and I found I had learnt some fairly prominent life lessons.

A GOOD HIKING PARTNER IS WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD

This was the first adventure I had taken with my girlfriend, just as the two of us. We usually end up hiking with friends, or family, particularly on overnight hikes. This time we were hiking as just the two of us.

I was a little nervous given that in the past I had lost friends over arguments and clashes out in the bush. We totally clicked together. When one of us one drained, the other one took on the role of decision-maker and morale booster. We did not have set roles, which made the hiking all the more flexible and enjoyable.

YOU CAN NEVER PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING

We had done plenty of day hikes, even covering some pretty lengthy distances each day, but still, we didn’t feel totally prepared for everything the trail could throw at us. By the second day, energy levels were depleted, but once we crashed through the wall of exhaustion on the third day, things became much easier.

PUT FRIENDLINESS OUT INTO THE WORLD WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING BACK

In my office job, I sometimes find myself avoiding certain people because I know they will have a million and one questions for me, even though I’m snowed under with my own work. This is absolutely not the attitude and the Larapinta Trail showed me this.

I helped carry the pack of a fellow hiker I had just met on one day, without expecting anything in return. I found myself opening up to people and starting conversations with everyone we stumbled across. I had incredibly satisfying conversations and learnt loads of outdoor tips. I found by putting friendliness out into the world, I got much more out of the hike than I ever expected.

DEAL WITH SMALL PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY GET OUT OF HAND

On day 3, I developed a small blister on my big toe. Rather than deal with the problem with a liberal application of duct tape the following day, out of pride, stupidity and foolishness, I left it. By the end of the following day, the pain was searing. I was limping and bloodied and it took a monumental effort to muster the courage to walk on day 5.

THERE IS NO RUSH

Don’t let the world pass you by in a blur. Take your time, enjoy the magic of it all. If you don’t get to where you need to be, there is no issue. You can pick up where you left off another time. Once I adopted this mentality, my hiking gave me new levels of enjoyment and satisfaction.

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.