trailwalker!

Sorry about Monday. That was a bit embarrassing! so many emotions…

Today after work I had volunteer training for the Oxfam Trailwalker event in 2 weeks — James and I have signed up to do a shift as Trail Sweeps, on Section 5 (Olinda to Ferntree Gully). Kerry is the one who told me about volunteering for this 100km walk, as she is doing a whole bunch of shifts herself, at what I learned today is Oxfam Australia’s biggest fundraising event of the year.

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I’ll be honest I was mostly excited about getting to hike 11km whilst picking up rubbish. I love hiking, but just like David Sedaris (who aside from being a brilliant author, has had a rubbish truck named after him for his efforts), I hate seeing rubbish on trails. It broke my heart in Nepal that you can stand on a Himalayan mountain, looking out to Mount Everest, and see plastic wrappers everywhere around you. Bhutan was relatively pristine in comparison, Taiwan was not quite as bad as Nepal but not great either. Of course an event organised by Oxfam in Australia is going to make sure they leave no trace behind!

It turns out that the Sweeps mostly just collect the trail markers, but there’s bound to be rubbish too, since there will be 3200 people (800 teams of 4!) walking the trail ahead of us. I saw advice somewhere to bring a trowel for burying “human waste” but I really hope I don’t actually have to bury other people’s poop. I’m a bit sad to find out I won’t have a spike on a stick… I guess there’s still time to coax James into making me one!

I’ve spent the evening booking guesthouses and AirBnB rooms for our Taiwan trip. I have been building it all in a nice gaudy spreadsheet. Here’s a teaser!

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And final note: this morning I did the 6am Bikram class. This allowed me to wake up at 5:45, grab my water bottle, roll straight into class, and discover I had purple wine-stained lips from dinner last night with Graham. I love living next door to the studio so much.

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icebreaker

I am writing this to break the ice — I was horrified to see it’s been two months since I last updated. I’m in that place where I have done so much that I haven’t had time to blog about it, and then time passes and I’ve missed the moment. I got back from Bhutan and Nepal on Thursday afternoon, and now it’s the wee early hours of Sunday morning and I’d love to write something about my trip, but I have over 4000 photos — and I’m still missing a load of James’ pics — and I am scared to even open up iPhoto to try and start sorting them so I can begin writing about them.

But even though there are thousands of incredible pictures I have just one I want to post now — when I went to open one picture at random from the folders on my desktop, this one of us in our traditional Bhutanese clothes was it, and I think it captures the best thing about my trip. Please try not to vom… but being with James is better than any hidden Himalayan destination.

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september-october-it’s-already-november

It’s been two months since the last update… and I really didn’t do anything very blog-worthy in that time. In the end my work persuaded me I could not leave them, and so September and October were filled with work and study, as I crammed an entire unit of university into my 50-hour work weeks. I spent my early mornings, evenings and weekends in a pile of readings and notes, and then 10-hour days going crazy at work, and it feels like the entire 8 or 9 weeks were spent gazing at computer screens and punching my brain to produce words. I survived… despite the exhaustion that comes with B12 and iron deficiencies, identified late in the winter but now being properly treated. 90% of my exercising has been restricted to cycling, and 90% of THAT has been restricted to commuting between work, uni, and my super-cute flat in St Kilda East where I now live by myself, in the company of a lot of reading on cultural heritage conservation.

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This is my new chair, with which I am extraordinarily happy. Previously I had to sit on that cardboard box and it tended to collapse a little too frequently for comfort.
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And now, finally, sunny day are here and school is over until the end of April and I have my evenings and weekends free once more! And James and I are meeting up in Nepal for Xmas and then going trekking in Bhutan because we’re badass like that. So I need to start training for my Himalayan trek, as my experiences on the Camino — most notably, the torture that was my sore feet — taught me you do not want to head off on a multi-day trek in the mountains unprepared. There have been MANY trips to the podiatrist, sports doctor, physio and various x-rays and MRIs all poking at my knees and shins and feet. Orthotics and new running shoes and new hiking boots oh my, but no actual hiking. Until yesterday, when at last I had a chance to go for a training hike with Grah, at the You Yangs. We intentionally chose something nice and tame, although there were a LOT of steps and it was very sunny.

We started out by having a roam around on Big Rock.
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Graham did that thing boys have to do when they poke at rocks with sticks.
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Panorama function on the iPhone means you can at least try (but fail) to capture the view.
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Then we started the hike to Flinders Peak, which was actually hundreds of steps, it reminded me a lot of Taiwan!
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We stopped at one point to point and laugh at how tiny and insignificant Melbourne appears on the skyline, surrounded by endless bush (if you zoom right in, you can see it on the horizon, above that second hill peak to the right of my shoulder). I had forgotten my hiking scarf (the one that carried me all the way from Roncesvalles to La Romieu last year) but I am never actually without scarf, so this one made do to protect me from the midday sun.
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Myspace picture right at the top!
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Obligatory “Hiker standing on a big rock” picture. I actually slightly lost my balance seconds before this picture was taken — more cardio.
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I had my running shoes in my backpack and switched after 5km, however I still ended up with slightly blistered toes and very sore calves. But it felt fantastic to be back out there hiking, and in fact the blisters were almost like old friends.

And we didn’t even get sunburnt! I had layered on the SPF30 pretty thick, and I always wear a scarf to protect my head and arms, despite the odd looks I sometimes get. I was quite excited when I saw two or three girls up ahead wearing headscarves, as it’s not something I’ve seen on other people, but when we got closer it turned out theirs were religious in purpose.

Proof of not only no sunburn, but my curls are returning! I’d given up all hope and was planning to just shave my head, obviously the lack of nutrients was the reason why my hair had gone all limp.
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And today, Sunday, is my day of rest. I might go to yoga this evening, but so far it’s 1pm and I am still in bed. I hope to be reporting back soon with more hikes!