the over­land track

Michelle’s jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery.

Adventure - - Contents -

There are many peo­ple you meet in life with a story to tell. Michelle and Glenn are one such cou­ple. Michelle’s is jour­ney of self-dis­cover y and hard work. A mo­ment in her life was proof that just be­cause some­thing seemed daunt­ing, it wasn’t im­pos­si­ble. Rather than con­tin­u­ing to be a spec­ta­tor in her own life she sought to un­cover her for­mer self and put her­self back to­gether again. She and Glenn worked hard from then on to be healthy and ac­tive. Their jour­ney to­wards health has been an ad­ven­ture all on its own open­ing up many op­por­tu­ni­ties to see and do things that they never imag­ined pos­si­ble. The Over­land Track was one of these things.

The Over­land Track is no doubt one of Aus­tralia’s finest walks, and will take you through spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­falls, do­lerite moun­tains, lakes, tarns and di­verse ecosys­tems in pris­tine Tas­ma­nian wilder­ness World Her­itage ar­eas. Michele and her hus­band Glenn re­cently com­pleted the walk as part of their six-month ad­ven­ture trav­el­ling the world. We asked Michele about the high­lights of her trip, what in­spired her to do The Over­land Track and tips for oth­ers com­plet­ing the track.

What made you de­cide to walk the Over­land Track? My hus­band and I were in the mid­dle of an amaz­ing six-month round-the-world type trip – but some­thing was miss­ing. We were look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to get out into na­ture in a more in­ti­mate way. A visit to Tas­ma­nia was part of our travel itin­er­ary, so I started do­ing some on­line re­search and found The Over­land Track trip. It was ex­actly what we needed. The hike promised to be chal­leng­ing, we’d be on the trail for sev­eral days (6 days, 5 nights), all of the camp­ing and back­pack­ing gear was pro­vided, and the lo­gis­tics (food, trans­port to/from the trail) were taken care of. Per­fect!

What kind of train­ing did you do lead­ing up to the walk? I used to weigh nearly 140 ki­los (over 300 pounds) and could barely walk up a flight of stairs. A few years ago my hus­band and I started fo­cus­ing on get­ting healthy, in­clud­ing adding more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity into our daily lives. I’ve lost 59 ki­los (130 pounds) since then and my life has been trans­formed. Hiking the Over­land Track is a phys­i­cal feat that was once on my “I’ll never be able to do that” list and moved to the “I’ll give that a try” list. I didn’t do any­thing spe­cific to train for the walk other than main­tain­ing my cur­rent level of phys­i­cal fit­ness through daily ac­tiv­i­ties such as walk­ing, biking and run­ning. I’m not a fast hiker, but I can gen­er­ally go the dis­tance. Part of the fun of some­thing like the Over­land Track was put­ting my body to the test and be­ing amazed at what I could ac­com­plish (like reach­ing the sum­mit of Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa). What were your top 3 high­lights of the walk? 1. The ever-chang­ing scenery. I’ve never seen a land­scape like that along the Over­land Track. The craggy moun­tains pok­ing up on the horizon, the golden spikes of the but­ton grass, the tow­er­ing eu­ca­lyp­tus forests and

the bright blue skies. I can’t count the num­ber of times I stum­bled be­cause I was so busy watch­ing the scenery and not the trail. 2. Sum­mit­ing both Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa. In ad­di­tion to the wonders that can be found along the main track, there was time to take in sev­eral side­trips. I joined a few fel­low hik­ers to sum­mit two of the trail’s most im­pos­ing and iconic moun­tains – Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa (Tas­ma­nia’s tallest moun­tain). Con­quer­ing the phys­i­cal chal­lenge was re­ward enough, but the views from the top were un­for­get­table. 3. See­ing oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence hiking and camp­ing for the first time. There were sev­eral mem­bers of our group that had never gone back­pack­ing be­fore. Never set up a tent, much less slept in one. Never gone six days with­out a shower. It was a spe­cial treat to see their trans­for­ma­tion into true out­door ad­ven­tur­ers as the days went by – and to see the huge grins on their faces at the end of the trail as they be­gan mak­ing plans for their next hiking ad­ven­ture. What was the food and the camp­sites like? I’ve done multi-day back­pack­ing trips in the past and the food has al­most al­ways con­sisted of some flavour­less de­hy­drated store-bought con­coc­tion in a foil packet. The food on this trip was the op­po­site. I was amazed at how fresh ev­ery­thing was (e.g. lots of fresh veg­gies for lunch ev­ery day) and at our guides’ tal­ent at mak­ing de­li­cious meals out of seem­ingly sim­ple in­gre­di­ents – in­clud­ing amaz­ing home­made desserts in the evening. We camped on nice wooden plat­forms in group camp­ing sites, which made great seats on which to gather around with our fel­low hik­ers over the evening meal and to rest our weary legs. Our camp­ing ar­eas were usu­ally off the beaten path in more se­cluded ar­eas. Al­though that meant a bit of a longer walk to the bath­rooms, we en­joyed the peace and quiet of be­ing away from the other hik­ers. You’ve been trav­el­ling for six months, where does it rate in your other ex­pe­ri­ences? I’ve had count­less ad­ven­tures dur­ing the past six months: float­ing down a river in the Ama­zon Jun­gle, trekking through the Atacama Desert in Chile, biking Bo­livia’s death road, hiking the Inca Trail, hang glid­ing in New Zealand and com­ing face-to­face with po­lar bears in the wild…to name but a few. And I’d say that hiking The Over­land Track is def­i­nitely in the top five of my ex­pe­ri­ences so far be­cause: • The land­scape was so stun­ning and so un­like any­thing I have ever seen be­fore. • The peo­ple I met in our hiking group were so funny, kind and in­ter­est­ing. • Spend­ing six full days on the trail meant I had the time and space to truly ex­pe­ri­ence the won­der and splen­dour of the nat­u­ral world. • I saw sights that are only ac­ces­si­ble on foot and that few oth­ers can say they’ve seen. What was some­thing you learnt on the track you didn’t know be­fore? Oddly enough around the camp­site I learned the fine art of the “Tim Tam Slam.” It seems that ev­ery Aus­tralian can school you in the proper way to do a Tim Tam Slam….based on hours of ex­haus­tive child­hood re­search. In this case I was in­structed to bite two op­pos­ing cor­ners off the Tim Tam and then suck my hot tea through the cookie like a straw. You have to be quick be­cause the tea turns the in­side of the cookie into a warm gooey yummy mess and if you don’t get it into your mouth soon af­ter it starts melt­ing it will be a sticky pile in your lap. Prac­tice makes per­fect! I also learnt about Wom­bat poop. Rid­dle me this…how does some­thing square come out of a round hole? I was fas­ci­nated by wom­bat poop and my fel­low hik­ers were on con­stant alert to point out good spec­i­mens for me to pho­to­graph. Are there any tips you would rec­om­mend for those who are think­ing of do­ing the Over­land Track? • Do it! It is amaz­ing. • Bring qual­ity hiking shoes that are well bro­ken in. Sev­eral of our fel­low hik­ers suf­fered from blis­ters which made for painful days of walk­ing. • You don’t need to be a finely toned ath­lete to do this hike, but hav­ing a rel­a­tively good level of phys­i­cal fit­ness and be­ing com­fort­able walk­ing for sev­eral hours a day will go a long ways to­ward mak­ing the trip more en­joy­able. • Do the op­tional side-trips along the trail if you’re able. From sum­mit­ing moun­tains to view­ing breath­tak­ing wa­ter­falls, or even tak­ing a dip in a moun­tain lake, some of my favourite mem­o­ries of the trail are from the side-trips. Read more about Michele’s Over­land Track ex­pe­ri­ence as well as count­less other ad­ven­tures – in­clud­ing her jour­ney to­ward a health­ier life – on her blog at www. al­ifemore­ex­traor­di­nary.net

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