After a long weekend filled with liver destroying quantities of alcohol one is crawling down the road to recovery, slowly but surely. I would be very disappointed with myself had I gone the whole weekend and achieved nothing but self-inflicted damage. After all, I’m usually the one to turn down a drink in return for a quiet night filled with lots of yummy food, good music and a great conversation. I’m up for lots to be honest, anything that doesn’t involve shouting at one another, the testosterone filled “women” talk, or throwing up in the back of a cab. This is old hat to me now, or so I seem to keep telling myself.
Off I went smiling joyfully en route to the train station after devouring three thickly cut sourdough slices topped with avocado, tomato, cucumber and baked beans. My bag packed with everything a man needs for a day hike; a couple of books, one serious, one not so much. Some warm clothing as the weather is turning that way, headphones for when the sound of nature disappears and reality kicks in. A couple of Bananas and an Apple. Oh, and of course, a big bag of my favourite kind of nature… Mary Jane!
At the start of Dandenong Ranges there is a historical climb which involves climbing 1000 steps to get a glimpse of the terrain that the Australian soldiers endured in the 1940’s. Which I found quite funny actually because upon summiting you shall find a large group of sweaty, tired and out of breathe tourists who, by the looks of things got more than just a glimpse of the terrain. Following this, you can walk around numerous routes or if you fancy an adventure, just walk! Don’t look at the map, don’t even question the direction of which you’re heading, just walk!
I spent the best part of five hours completely alone, surrounded by nothing but chirping birds, buzzing insects, dense green forest and a Wallaby or two. Considering it was a bank holiday and the 1000 steps were heaving, it goes to show, if you walk off the beaten track peace and tranquility can be found. To me there’s nothing quite like being alone with your thoughts, surrounded by nature, completely focusing on the present, forgetting all that seems to exist. Not a soul around besides the hidden eyes of those watching as I trample through the place they call home. Tall canopies towering over all forms of life creating an eerie lonesome feeling down on the ground, often interrupted by a mysterious jolt of a bush or the soaring flight of a bird cutting through my path letting me know her nest is nearby.
The network of forests amaze me, I wish we all took a leaf out of their book, I’m sure we could grow as a society if more people observed nature rather than a television. Watch how the trees connect and work together, how the lay out of the forest either vertically or horizontally is set in a way to help a neighbour. Even the fallen branches and debris create whole ecosystems of thriving life forms, providing areas of dense vegetation and mulch for the new comers to sprout with profound efficiency.
After hours of aimless strolling I decided to have a pit stop, rest the legs, roll up a Scooby snack and read a chapter or two of my new book. Embracing the surroundings, taking in the peaceful scenes and soaking up that Vitamin Nature. At this point the Bananas and Apples I had packed came in handy as the munchies kicked in. I choose not to eat any animal products so eating out is often very inconvenient. It’s only a little thing but taking a snack bag makes me feel more independent, more connected to the Earth rather than relying on a super store nearby. Time quickly passed and it soon hit me that I had no idea of where I actually was, all I knew is that I’d been walking South-East, and as I hadn’t followed any of the ‘Treks’ laid out, there was no signage sending me back the right way.
I found and followed a road for about forty-five minutes until I hit a sign saying ‘One Tree Hill Road’ and it was at that point I knew I’d safely return home in time for a late dinner. A long day of walking had spat me out at the top of the 1000 steps, which as expected had died off with sweating tourists, allowing me to fly down the steps in no time at all. Just as the sun was setting I jumped on the train and made my way back to civilization, and as reality kicked in the headphones came out.
A day out with mother nature always makes me feel a lot clearer, happier and connected to the important things in life.