Day 4 started like any other day, our Trek leader Rowan woke us up with his strong Aussie, ex-army voice telling us that it’s close enough to 5.15am, time to pack up the tent, check on the people next to you and then head to breakfast. Most mornings I woke up earlier so that I had time to do my movement practice, not this morning. As I sat up, I’d hit my head against the top of the tent, roll up my sleeping bag and mattress as quickly as possible, pack my porters bag and finally, pack my bag with everything I’d need for the days walk. By then it was almost light and I’d move slowly towards breakfast.

We were warned the previous night, this mornings walk is the steepest part of the trek and following that was another few hours of slightly less steep, but still steep walking. The first section is called ‘The Wall’ and for good reason. Any steeper and it would have been completely vertical. Many times it felt more like rock climbing than walking, Rani’s favourite, my nightmare. I started 15 minutes behind everyone else to complete my movement practice. I knew I’d need the extra stability and lightness that it unfailingly gave me. From where I did my practice I could see “The Wall” across the river, the team slowly made their way up and over. I knew that today was going to test all of us.

Time to get going, the start, particularly the first hour was always tough for me but today would be even more so because it went straight into a wall, literally. As I walked through the river, my porter (Oscar) casually waited for me. As he saw me a very slight, cheeky grin came over his face, he knows what I’m up against. Over the last few days we’ve bonded and built a foundation of trust. I know he’s there when I need him every step of the way. More important than that, I can feel that he believes in me and when times get tough, that helps me believe in myself, more than he’ll ever know.

Describing the first couple of hours of walking that day isn’t easy, it took such intense focus for every step that there were very few thoughts going through my mind. When there was a thought it was usually “oh shit, how am I going to make that” or “phew, I’m glad that part’s over”. There were many times that I had to hand my walking poles to Oscar so that I could scramble up on my hands and feet. Other times I couldn’t physically lift my right leg high enough to step up. Those times, on the edge of “The Wall” in a very small space I had to shimmy around with my left foot to create space for my right foot. Once my right foot was planted, along with my two walking poles, only then could I step up with my left leg. It was like a dance, an incredibly steep and slippery, vertical dance.

No picture or video could ever do justice to walking up The Wall and as I’m writing this blog I’m even finding words hard to come by. What remains strong when I think about that section is the fear that I felt. I remember questioning whether today will be the day that I break. This is followed by intense pride and courage for not only making it, but smashing it. At the top of The Wall I caught up to the group just as they were leaving the rest area. The rest area entailed a couple of logs to either sit on or sit next to and lean on. I had a good long rest and ate one of my snacks, an Eclipse Organics Paleo bar, such a treat. I knew there was a long day of walking ahead so I took my time and it was nice walking by myself, at my own pace.

When I started walking again, I put my earphones in and started listening to a motivational audio composer on Spotify called Fearless Motivation. It got me pumped and I found “the zone”. The next section of walking, I entered into the deepest flow state I’ve ever been in. If you don’t know about flow states, it’s a state of consciousness that happens as a result of your skill level directly meeting the level of challenge in front of you, combined with a centred presence and conscious breathing. Basically, your thoughts drop away and every movement becomes almost effortless. Your senses become sharper and there’s stillness within, despite whatever is happening externally.

All that existed in my awareness was my breath, everything else – the music, right foot here, left foot there were blended into the background, moving synchronistically with ease and grace. Almost as if I was being walked, rather than doing the walking. After an hour or so I caught up to the group on a rest break, but I didn’t want to stop. Our Trek leader gave us the nod so Dad and I, with our porters, went ahead. When you enter a flow state, you don’t want anything to get in your way. The next few hours of walking breezed past with only one quick rest break for another snack.

When we got to the top of Brigade Hill, the view made it all worthwhile. Doing it in style and with dad, was the cherry on top. It was the tastiest lunch of the entire trek. It was encouraging and gave me momentum that carried me the next couple of days. It also showed me just how much my training paid off.

On the top of Brigade Hill there’s a small memorial for the men that we lost in war. One team member, Tony Stewart recited an incredible poem called ‘The Gift of Years’ by Eric Bogle, which had all of us in tears. It was a very humbling moment after being on such a high and an incredible reminder of the very reasons I was there. While this was an incredibly beautiful adventure and achievement, it’s important never to forget and to give thanks to those that lost their lives for our freedom.

Inspiration through action.

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