Outing #1 – Day 1 – Agony on legs



Got out that god-forsaken caravan park and started moving at around midday, carrying this horribly heavy 90Ltr main pack, a 25Ltr daypack (crammed full of food), and a waterproof sack (containing my layers of warm clothes and sleeping-bag).

It’s straining my back, my legs are starting to really feel the extra weight and it’s simply agony for my shoulders already; yet all I’ve done is walk across the road to the bus stop out front of the caravan park. How the fuck am I meant to carry all this shit down the Giant Staircase, let alone up and down the mountain for days on end. Then again, people do this all the time, I’m told: camp down in the National Park. Won’t know till I give it a go.

Getting off the bus at Echo Point at approximately 1:00pm – back and shoulders hurting – I drag myself up to the kiosk for a pie and the last decent coffee I would see for several days. Pie and coffee purchased, I stand outside eating while quietly scoffing at the tourists: all flocking to the railings of the lookouts or taking selfies before quickly shuffling back into crammed little busses heading for the next sight on their brochures.

“Stupid tourists”, I think as I watch them daintily walk past, “they’d never do anything like this.”

Pie eaten and coffee drunk I take a step back, lean into my monster-size backpack and strap myself in – ready to walk the nine-hundred steps of this “Giant Staircase”…

…so long-story-short: I’ve reached the bottom of the staircase from hell, though walking down with over 25kgs across multiple bags damn near killed me.
My legs are like jelly, I’m completely out of breath and my clothes are drenched with sweat.
Despite spending all last week off-loading dead weight – putting stuff in plastic bags then dropping them off at Vinnies in town to hold for me – the fucken thing weights as much, if not more, than it did when I first got to Katoomba.

All the way down the Staircase I was the target of amused glances and reactions. Phrases in foreign languages I couldn’t completely understand but consistently containing words like “Australiana” and “loco”, sympathetic looks from many. I was even asked whether I was training for some kind of marathon event.

Despite all the reactions, questions and the occasional chuckle, I made it to the bottom, found the closest seat and have unclipped my bags harness: Now for a much needed rest. About an hours worth would be good.

Throughout the last hour resting here at the base of the staircase, several groups of people – both locals and tourists – have walked past, and a number stopped to ask me whether I needed any help, and was I alright. To my surprise, even pretty women walking alone stopped to try and help.

Having informed them I had just walked down the stairs to camp for a few days, before realising there was absolutely nowhere to pitch a tent, they’d furrow their eyebrows in sympathy, then ask me “What will you do?”.

“Nothing at all for a good while yet”, was the answer I recycled over and again, “I’m certainly not going back up any stairs today”. Of course, I was spot-on too: My legs were so ruined, walking anywhere was going to require motivation I was running low on, and walking back up the stairs was simply out of the question – not physically doable at this point.

Eventually, I climbed off the wooden seat having told myself that as much as I felt like just sitting here, I couldn’t stay at the base of the Staircase forever and needed to start making some kind of effort to scout around for a place to sleep for the night and so once again, sitting back into the pack I’d already grown to loathe, I snapped all the harness clips together, stood back up and started trudging north-east, towards Leura Forest.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment