Because Bushwalking is ‘Fun’
Every year around this time, the weather starts to get nice and I start to think, “I should go BUSHWALKING!”
For some reason, I ALWAYS forget that mixing me and the wild is like mixing oil and water, chalk and cheese, fluffy kittens and beloved fish – it might seem like a good idea, but it never ends well.
This year, however, I won’t be making the same mistake again… hopefully. Then again, that’s what I said last year, and THIS is what happened:
I was living with my sister at the time, and we had spent the previous week watching back-to-back episodes of Buffy (no, you can’t watch it too many times, and no, you can’t watch too much of it in a row). On completion of the seventh series, and feeling somewhat depressed about the ending that we had seen a number of times previously, we MIGHT have been a little out of sorts. Certainly, SOMETHING must explain our actions when, on waking to discover a beautiful day outside, we decided to go bushwalking.
First things first, we rang our enviro-hippy father to find out an appropriate ‘day walk’.
“Pardon?” was his initial response to this request. To be fair, I think he simply didn’t understand the concept of his daughters voluntarily stepping into the wild. It certainly hadn’t happened since he had maintained the ability to force us as children.
After confirming that, yes, we were his daughters, and no, we weren’t on drugs, he suggested that we drive for about 30 minutes out of the city to begin a walk that would take us to a set of waterfalls.
“It’s beautiful,” he cheered, “You’ll love the falls.”
Excited (for some reason), we began to prepare for our adventure. Primarily, this involved shopping for hiking appropriate gear. Neither of us had previously owned shorts, and, yeah, we might have also bought a few other accessories required to look ‘authentic’ – it really is unimportant whether you can read a compass, so long as you have one when hiking. We also needed food supplies (gummi bears, chips, chocolate, etc) and new drink bottles, in order to survive the three hour round trip.
We were exhilarated as we finally climbed into the car, ready for our adventure to begin. SOME of the exhilaration wore off as we drove the wrong way (a few times) and it took us nearly two and a half hours just to make it to the beginning of the walking path, and yet SOME MORE exhilaration wore off as we realised our father’s definition of an ‘easy’ walk.
The path was ALL up hill, but worse than that, much of it was made up of actual CLIFFS that required ‘scaling’ in order to continue. As a result, we were somewhat confused when we passed a woman, on her way back down, who appeared to have achieved the hike using walking crutches (she was also about eighty). Despite this anomaly, the walk was NOT ‘easy’. To put it mildly, I pretty much thought I was going to die at about the mid way point.
It felt like about a billion hours later when we finally reached what appeared to be the end point look out. But a ‘look out’ to what?
My sister and I stared out, confused, exhausted and dismayed at a huge sharp cliff that plummeted into a deep abyss.
Where was the waterfall?!
Picking up her phone, my sister frantically, although despondently, dialled our father.
“Dad, we’ve followed the whole path, it’s taken hours, but there’s just a cliff. Where’s the waterfall?” my sister asked desperately.
“That IS the waterfall,” he responded seriously.
“Pardon?” my sister asked.
“That IS the waterfall,” he repeated, “and THAT’s the result of GLOBAL WARMING and THAT’S why you should stop WASTING energy!
Neither of us could believe our ears. All that walking and all we got was a lesson in environmentalism.
We would have been mad, but, to be honest, we were just too tired and too demoralised. And so we began the walk back down to the car (by the way, it’s considerably easier to scale UP cliffs than DOWN them).
It was about a quarter of the way down that my sister suddenly froze.
“STOP!” she whispered/screamed (yes it’s possible), staring from me to a massive branch on the path.
But, of course, it wasn’t a branch. No, it was a massively, gigantically humungous tiger snake, which she had just disrupted and which had then run onto the path in front of me.
To my right was a sharp cliff upwards with a few bushes and presumably the snakes back end hidden somewhere amongst the rocks. To my left was a sharp cliff downwards with only a large tree overhanging, just in front of the snake.
“FAAAAAAAAARRRRRRK!” I scream/whispered at Hannah, “WHAT DO I DO?!” to which she replied “Don’t move.”
The three of us then stood/lay there for about 20 minutes starring at each other. It was a stale mate. Hannah was the only one that could move without getting in someone’s path, so, being the caring, overly dramatic sister that I am, I declared “RUN! Save yourself!” I could tell she thought about it for the briefest of seconds, until she realised that she could ring Dad again. His response was “Don’t move” and Hannah hysterically hung up at the pointlessness of this repeated suggestion.
For those of you who don’t know, tiger snakes are deadly. Like, they bite you, and you die.
My sister and I WERE aware of this fact, our father having taken it upon himself to ‘educate’ us from a young age by declaring, on such fateful occasions, “This is what you DON’T do when you see a tiger snake,” and throwing a rock at the snake to make it come charging towards us. Yeah, awesome.
So, staring at my most recent snake-foe, I was well aware of the dangers and just about ready to FREAK OUT.
“Climb around the tree,” she said, and laughed at the ridiculousness of this plan, making it clear that she was joking – the tree quite clearly being unsecure and hanging over a deathly drop. But there wasn’t much of an alternative.
It was at this moment that I decided that I would rather fall to my death than be bitten by a tiger snake, and so, clinging to the tree, while half dangling off a cliff, I climbed around the snake to meet my sister, listening the whole time to her intermittently laughing/crying and muttering “Oh god oh god, you’re gonna die.”
SOMEHOW, however, I made it, mostly with my eyes closed, and, once on the other side, we RAN all the way back to the car, never to enter the wild again.
So, this summer, I’m planning to respond to urges of wild adventures with a trip to the beach, where I will enjoy the best aspects of nature from the security of my car.