Despite not completing the Australian Alpine Walking Track due to injury, Lucy ‘Bird’ Thorpe says the experience was a positive one where she learnt a lot of things about herself.
Unlike most who choose to do the Australian Alpine Walking Track from Walhalla to Canberra, Bird decided to do it in reverse.
Having spoken to Bird about the trek at the end of October, it was fantastic to hear all her stories and what occurred while she was away.
“(I learnt) mostly about the nature of plans and life in general…I think you can apply the things I learnt mostly to any situation,” she says.
“I had a bit of a plan at the start to take it as it came, and I knew where I was going and what I wanted to do.
“I had someone who was going to help me set out the food drops at the start.”
Unfortunately, for unforeseen reasons, that person was unable to help Bird with her food drops. This meant her start date didn’t occur when it was meant to.
She says the mishap taught her to readjust and rethink her entire plan. With that in mind, she went on a mission to do the food drops herself.
“I was very ambitious and still wanted to do it…so I decided I would drive all the way up to the first food drop I would come to (the last food drop going backwards),” she says.
After leaving her car a relative’s house on the coast, and making her way to Canberra via a lift, a bus, a taxi and some walking, she finally arrived at the start of the trek in the Namadji National Park on November 6th.
“So the first part of the walk was challenging…you start off climbing quite a lot,” she says.
“I found the beginning of the walk actually quite easy, and I was really happy with that as I expected that it was going to be quite hard.”
After a few days, a number of things happened that made the trek more challenging than it should have been.
Five weeks prior to the trek, Bird had hurt her ankle and hadn’t taken her rehabilitation seriously.
Furthermore, she got sick from drinking some water from a creek on day two.
Fast forward to day four and things were starting to move in a positive direction. With things looking up, she made the decision to hike 35-kilometres that day to get to another food drop.
She had originally had planned to get to said food drop location by day six.
“I got to where the food drop was in the evening and decided to hitch hike from this old town (Kyandra) to the nearest town which was about 50 kilometres away and stayed at a caravan park,” she says.
She thought this might be a good decision as it would help rid her body of the sickness that was still plaguing her.
From day five until day eight, Bird says she didn’t see anyone on the track and her ankle was progressively getting worse.
“I was really enjoying the walking but I wasn’t thinking about wanting to rest and I didn’t want to stop,” she says.
On day seven, she found herself in a hut and it was at this point that she made the decision to end her trek.
“My ankle was hurting quite a lot because the day before I did 38-kilometres and I was still feeling a bit unwell,” she says.
“I hadn’t seen many people and I kept having these moments of profound beauty and having a sense of wanting to share it with somebody.
“I wasn’t lonely but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I wanted to anymore.”
Bird says she may be at a point where she’s had enough alone time considering her lengthy solo hikes in Western Australia and now the Australian Alpine Walking Track.
Furthermore, she says she was about to enter a remote area where it would have been irresponsible of her to continue on with her bad ankle and put her family in a position of concern.
Bird reflects on her experience and labels it as positive because she feels like she achieved quite a bit despite not finishing the trek.
But that won’t prevent her from going back and trying again. In fact, she wants to attempt the other two-thirds of the trail separately and then complete the entire Australian Alpine Walking Track some day soon.