In some people, there is a piece their soul that drives them to roam. They are the vagabonds, gypsies, and backpackers of the world. People ask them, “How do you do it”? Other people tell them how lucky they are to do what they love. They are not lucky, they just have their priorities straight. They want to leave and they do. I fit into this category. Even when I am holding down a 9-5 (or 8:45-4:15 in my case) I find time to feed my inner wanderer. To be whole, I must feed this part of me. I have found that when he isn’t nourished, I become cranky, restless, and even depressed. It isn’t about buying multi-thousand dollar plane tickets to exotic places. It is about exploration.
When I can, I travel the world, but I have other goals and responsibilities. So, I can’t do this often. How do I feed my inner vagabond? I wander the neighbourhood or go into the city and act like a tourist. I can guarantee you have not seen everything there is to see locally. Sometimes, I just get out of the city for a day or two. If I don’t have the time, I explore a new subject or acquire a new skill. I can even just sit in the park and let my mind follow the paths it wants to take, exploring the thoughts that pop up. This keeps me healthy and sane.
Recently, I got ‘out’ and did an overnight hike with my friend Chris.
About 4 hours from Melbourne are the Grampian Ranges. The first night we stayed at Troopers Creek Campground, which is at the base of Mount Difficult. The next day we hiked up Mount Difficult. At the beginning of the trek there is a sign that reads “Strenuous Walking Involved”. Still, on the trip up we were shocked when we had to scramble up a rock faces, jump from boulder to boulder, and hike across the rocky ridges with winds strong enough to make you misstep and stumble, all in the open sunlight with our backpacks on, stuffed with camping gear. At the top, my water-pack broke and we lost a couple litres of water, leaving only 3-litres between us. When you only have a litre and a half of water to last you to the next day, in those conditions, you can become very dehydrated. So, we had to do a two-day hike in one day in hopes that at the end “Beehive Falls” was clean enough to drink. On the plateau, the air was dry and hot, and the wind was gusting enough to knock gear off my backpack. Though, It was beautiful. The sky was blue, the stones and dirt were red and grey, and all around me were rocky cliffs dropping to the eucalyptus forest below.
About 14 kilometres later, after scrambling down the other side of the mountain we found the little trickle of a waterfall. The water was clean and cold. We rested there to refresh, drink our fill, and soak our feet before we looked for a spot to camp. We followed the river about 500-metres and found a clearing to pitch the tent. Once we stopped moving, a pounding headache hit me like a freight train and nearly knocked me off my feet. With a few hours of light left, I took a nap in the tent. I woke up shortly after and stumbled to a fallen log to sit and eat my dinner of mixed nuts and kangaroo jerky, I drank some more of our Beehive Falls water and went back to sleep. Eventually the headache subsided and I woke up in the night to the sound of a wombat stomping around, sniffing at the tent, and chewing very loudly. In the morning, I was feeling pretty good. We packed up, had a handful of mixed nuts and some more roo jerky before hiking back the last eight-kilometres to the car-park where we left the car and camped the first night.
Having this little escape with all its challenges and excitement was a great way to break up the daily grind and reacquaint myself with the natural rhythms of life: getting up with the sun, sleeping when it went down, and eating when I saw fit. Even though I was only a handful of hours from home, I was able to get a little traveling fix, explore a new area, and overcome a challenge. That is really all it takes to keep me sane and focus on the goals at hand.
I haven’t been that many places, more than most, and not as many as some, but I’ve got the itch. Feeding the Hopeless Wanderer only takes a change of mindset. You don’t have to go far to get your fix.