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Hiking the Walking Trails in Cairns
Friday 25th March 2011 – Cairns, Australia
I have always fully embraced the idea of not knowing what the day ahead will bring whilst travelling, and often find myself doing the unexpected. This very often means doing something that I have not fully prepared for, and today was no different.
The day began with my decision to decline the offer of working in a nearby hostel due to the realisation that money was not on offer, but only food and accommodation in return for a day’s cleaning. The fact is I needed money, and this was not the way to go about it. Instead, I applied for a handful of picking jobs nearby and hoped for a speedy reply from at least one of them.
Knowing that I had spent most of the morning looking for work, and conscious of the fact it was a gloriously sunny day outside, I opted for a walk up to the Botanical gardens again, but this time to a set of walking tracks I had glanced at the previous day. I wondered if I would be able to complete a walk in my thongs (flip flops), given that the ground was probably a little wet from the overnight rain. I chanced it, and was soon faced with the choice of 3 walks of varying lengths. I decided I may as well go the distance, and selected the longest walk.
I hadn’t really given the day much thought, as is often the case, and wasn’t really prepared for the walk in any way. The path was heavily used by other walkers and joggers, most of whom were dressed for the occasion, and had the appropriate footwear, which made me feel a little concerned for my lack of appropriate attire. This wasn’t enough to dissuade me from continuing though, and I was soon negotiating the forest walkways, trying hard not to step in the puddles of wet mud. I was thinking I might regret this walk. A sign lay before me detailing of the dangers of wandering off the path after dark, and how nobody should attempt the walk after 4pm. It was now 3:45pm, so in my book I am free to continue, but only just.
Later on in the afternoon I became aware that nobody else was on the path I was on now. I guessed most people had chosen the more sensible option of the smaller walking tracks. Oh well, I was here now so I might as well press on. At this point I became more aware also of the fact the mosquito population in the forest were targeting me. I hadn’t put any mosquito repellent on myself before setting out – another big mistake. If I stood still for just a second my arms and legs became engulfed in a sea of the creatures, all fighting for the best spot to drain me of my blood. I adopted a technique of walking at pace whilst slapping my arms and legs in a frantic manner. I must have looked like something out of ‘Monty Python’ and the ‘Ministry of Funny Walks’ for anybody who did happen to be walking nearby.
There were times during the walk where I felt I might be lost, or that I was deviating from the main walkway, but soon found the pathway again. Lots of the grass and bush were overgrown, and I ended up walking through grass taller than myself at one point. I worried I might step on a snake in my open shoes, which would be extremely bad seeing as I was out alone. I rode my luck and kept going onwards.
At various parts of the walk there was a smaller path deviating from the main path, which always led to a lookout point over the city below, and over the airport. It was easy to tell these paths were not used very often as the ground was loose and breaking away in parts, often when the hill was at its steepest, which gave me many scary moments. The views themselves were worth all the struggle though, and I could have stayed for a long while in each place I found. Time was pressing though and I had no idea how far away I was to completing the walk, so I had to press on.
There was one strange moment when I was passed by a jogger in the depths of the forest, having been walking for about 3 hours over rough and muddy terrain, and I wondered if he had ran the path I had just walked. Surely he couldn’t have. But as he ran off into the distance at pace over rocky ground, seemingly without any real effort, I imagined he probably had. Apart from this, no other soul did I see until I finally reached the end of the walk, some 4 hours after setting off.
My legs were achy and my limbs red for all the bites received, and my water bottle had been empty for some time. My hat was dripping like a loose tap for all the sweat I had expelled, and being a straw hat, it was probably useless now. Once I had returned to the hostel I wasted no time in jumping into the shower to wash away the mud and sweat, and once fully refreshed I joined the others in the hostel. Tonight was wine and cheese night, and upon my arrival it appeared all the food and wine had been hastily devoured by the lucky guests. I took myself away for a pizza take away and enjoyed a game of rugby on the hostel television with some of the guys. It was a nice way to relax after a lengthy and tiresome walk. I have said it before and I will say it again, next time I will prepare myself properly, which I am sure I will not.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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