In Collie we felt that motivation had gone down below sound levels. At first, we thought it was mostly the lack of sleep playing our minds, as 2 weeks of continuous little rest during the cold, freezing nights had been taking their toll. So we stayed an extra night to be able to catch up on some sleep. It was miserable outside anyways.
But neither of felt better when we woke up the next morning. Leaving the cosy Colliefields hotel became a big assignment. The topic of quitting briefly came up. PI nor I came up with a clear answer. In the end we concluded that we had already come this far, so we should keep going. We packed up and left.
Throughout the day we discussed why we both felt this way. Several things came forward. It wasn’t necessarily the cold or the fatigue, though that certainly had something to do with it. First off, we had not been super impressed by the scenery. Parts of the Darling Range and the Monadnocks were pretty, but overall it had simply been ‘nice’, end line. I’m guessing in part it is bad homework on our behalf, and in part some over-hyping by the Bibbulmun Foundation. Maybe New Zealand spoiled us badly, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it world class. Simply nice.
Second, it is harder to find the challenge. On Te Araroa the challenge wasn’t merely walking the length of the trail but also to cross a country, with all the obstacles that involves: tides, estuaries, rivers, dense bush, steep terrain, high weather dependence etc. Now, all we have to do is simply walk. There is nothing that puts a healthy fear in us as we slowly approach it. I’m sure that 4-5 moths ago I would have slapped myself in the face for this, but: I miss a good scramble.
Thinking and talking about it lightened the mood already. PJ literally almost stepped on 3 seperate pairs of kangaroos. They blended in so perfectly in their surroundings and didn’t move until he was right there with them. We both agreed that was quite cool.
But mostly, I think we lost track of the bigger image. We wanted to walk more and we are. We both know that if we wouldn’t have been able to do it we would be sitting somewhere else now pondering about it. We are approaching the 4000km mark since we left. And when it’s dry, we get to spend our evening in the quiet of the bush, sitting around a cosy campfire.
We just needed a challenge. So we decided to up our game and set higher goals for ourselves. It got too comfortable, and a bit boring, walking 20-something kilometers a day. We slept in until 8 or 9, walked for 4-5 hours and chilled the rest of the day. We needed to get out of this rhythm that created a drowsy, sleepy mood. We pulled up the mark to approximately 40km a day.
To reach that we needed an earlier start, though. The first two days we failed. Maybe we had to. We had to fail to feel disappointed in ourselves, to do something too easy that didn’t satisfy our capabilities. We kicked ourselves in the butt again and succeeded. Third time good time. 41km later we arrived at Blackwood campsite feeling very much alive, proud and accomplished. The next day we pulled another big one into Donnelly River Village.
As usual, it is more the mind than the body setting the limits. We’ve probably been fit enough for a while to do it, but in the drowsiness the mind did not want to. “41km? Hmm. Sounds like an awful lot to me.” The trick is to turn one’s own mindset around, I guess not only when it comes to hiking, but to find challenges when life’s routines start lacking excitement. And really, if you want to push limits, it’s all about the mind. Of course we got tired somewhere along the way. But we ignored it. “41km eh? Let’s get this party cracking.”
I find there is something beautiful about pushing the limits, about going beyond what you think you can do, far beyond where you actually got tired and would have called it quits if your mind wasn’t so set on pushing on. Things start appearing in a different light, while the body works on like a machine and the mind free floats next to it. I guess it’s one of the addictive things about through-hiking: to get into that state of being where the two don’t necessarily feel connected anymore.
The feeling of accomplishment and new-found adrenaline as we kept the challenge up brought motivation back. Maybe we’ll try and set a new all time day record. But first off try and conquer our fear of heights by climbing the Gloucester Tree here in Pemberton.