So why did l do a solo seven-day hike on the Great Ocean Walk?
Well, it’s a hard question to answer. l was meant to be on a multi-day group hike with a bunch of wonderful ladies in Tassie.
But l ended up pulling out, l wasn’t up to hiking with others; l needed to get away, to recharge, to find myself (yep l said it, to find myself).
l know it sounds silly to say that but when we are so busy in our lives we can lose who we are.
l am constantly putting on a mask for work, for strangers, for getting through each day but it’s not me.
I lose what is really me, but when I’m hiking, I’m me, happy, content, peaceful, relaxed and l slow down; life slows down.
It’s wonderful and so beautiful to be out in nature alone, to not think about the silly little worries of yesterday or tomorrow, to just be in the now.
I had planned to do the Great Ocean Walk in November but decided this was the perfect time to go.
l was ready, l knew l could do it fitness wise but mentally l was not so sure. I spoke to a few people who know me and whose advice I respect, and they gave me the strength l needed to go for it.
The Great Ocean Walk is a pretty good walk to do solo. It’s easy to follow, has great camping sites with drop toilets and a shelter to sit and have dinner.
Usually, you will not be alone on your hike as it’s very popular (l hardly saw many hikers but l would think summer time it would be busier).
Every campsite has two water tanks and you cross so many creeks and rivers so there’s no chance of running out of water.
The sites allocated for tents are well placed that you won’t feel like you are camping on top of other campers if you are not alone at the campsites.
You do need to take all your food and carry out all of your rubbish. I hiked for seven days so had to carry seven days worth of food, but you can do the hike in four days if all you want to do is keep walking all day.
But where is the enjoyment in rushing? l loved getting to camp at lunch and setting up my tent, exploring the area and then just finding a great spot to sit and read, watch the sun go down, listen to the birds and unwind.
Oh, and l kept a journal each day which was interesting to read back to how l was feeling each day on the Great Ocean Walk.
My pack weighed 17kgs and when l first started my hike l couldn’t get the pack onto my back without a ledge to put it on first and then get my arms in to lift it up onto my back.
Let’s just say it was a challenge for a few days until l got the strength to lift it.
I could have got the weight down by leaving a few things behind that l really didn’t need such as my book; a thick book, a heavy book but a book l wanted to read on this hike – My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn.
I totally recommend it. I could have maybe left a few other things at home but l used everything and ate everything.
But I wish l packed more food and food l wanted to eat, more flatbread, more vegemite, soups and hot chocolate not tea.
One thing l was glad l packed for the Great Ocean Walk was my bug spray. Oh my God, the mozzies at night were bad!
I was lucky enough to see koalas on my first night at Elliot Ridge. They are so cute and make the strangest noises.
l also got to see an echidna, lots of beautiful birds, wallabies and kangaroos but no snakes thank God.
A guy that passed me on my hike saw three snakes on that one day sunning themselves on the side of the track.
He waited for me at the top of a hill and then informed me that l just walked past a tiger snake. l was thankful l didn’t see it.
I wore my gaiters everyday l was walking and l made enough noise with my hiking poles to scare anything away so l felt pretty good about not seeing snakes.
In the end, l do hope l inspire other women to get out and hike, go slow and enjoy.
It’s not a race to the destination but a journey to enjoy, share your stories with others and be proud of who you are.
I started my journey in March of this year, and am totally loving life at the moment. I am challenging myself to do 52 hikes in one year but even when l finish that l will not stop.
l have so many plans in my head now, all because of women who have inspired me. l feel alive again, l feel young, beautiful and inspired.
This makes me smile every day and want to go on and do more.
My dad actually got me into hiking. He loved it. bushwalking he would call it.
He loved Australia and travelled all over it. He had a map of Australia on his wall at home with all the places he had been to and explored.
He passed away in December last year. It was hard to deal with not having him here no longer.
He was my rock; l was his little girl.
I felt l needed to find him and do something he loved, so l went on a 4km hike to hope it would help me.
It not only helped me but l found a passion that l love and with this l feel like he is walking with me.
Where to now? Well, l have a list of hikes l want to do in Australia.
Of course, right now, I’m enjoying exploring our beautiful country and maybe I’ll find a hike that will pull at my heartstrings to get me overseas.
But this is a pretty big country with a lot of beautiful amazing wonderful places to explore so leaving it to find anything more wonderful would be hard to do.
I’m even thinking of travelling in a van for a year around Australia. Maybe a dream right now but what a wonderful thing to dream about.
As you can tell, Deb is a passionate hiker and one who appears to found something special in her new chosen outdoor activity. Be sure to follow all her hiking adventures on Instagram: @debs_hiking_journey