With our Everest Base Camp trek just over 6 months away, Ash and I thought we should start getting in some training, not only to get our fitness up, but also to try out our gear to make sure everything is comfortable. To really get a feel for what we’ll be doing on the Everest trek, we filled up our water bladders and loaded them into our backpacks, along with what we thought would be a typical load to take in our day packs on the Everest trek (extra clothing layers, rain jacket, toiletries, journal, camera, etc).
We decided to start out small, given we haven’t done much hiking at all before (I don’t think walking around the city while shopping counts!), so we drove about 45 minutes out of the city to the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Our walk started out along Lloyds Track in the Sherbrooke Forest, from the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road just near the CFA (Country Fire Authority) building.
The first challenge was trying to work out how to use our fancy new inbuilt water bladders in our backpacks – try as we might we could not get any water to come out of the hose! I was trying to google the instructions with the tiny amount of mobile phone service I had left (something I probably should have thought of before we set out!), when Ash finally worked out that the nozzle needed to be pulled out for the water to come through the valve. Who would have thought getting a drink of water could be so difficult!
Trying to be as quiet as possible and peering into the undergrowth in the hopes of seeing some wildlife, we wound our way around the tracks. It was probably a futile exercise, as there were heaps of other people in the forest, but we tried! We did see a weird orange land yabby (which I originally thought was a scorpion from a distance) that freaked me out a bit as I’d never seen anything like it, and various birds such as kookaburras and crimson rosellas.
It was really nice weather, a little overcast, but mild and still. There was a lovely cool humidity in the lusher rainforest areas of the walk, which dropped when the rainforest opened up to majestic old eucalypts as far as the eye could see. Sounds of birds twittering merrily was the soundtrack to our boots crunching along the paths, punctuated every now and then by the hearty laugh of the many kookaburras in the forest.
We continued walking to the Sherbrooke Falls, where we stopped for a brief rest. I had to sit down and adjust my boots as they had started rubbing, which was making my hike less than enjoyable! The falls weren’t that spectacular as there hadn’t been very much rain recently (and they are a very small falls anyway), but it was still nice and tranquil down there for about 5 minutes until 3 other groups of people joined us.
Not quite finished with our walk yet, and with my feet feeling a little better, we kept moving away from where we had started, winding our way through the forest. We ended up coming out near the road at Grants Picnic Ground, where we utilised the facilities and then decided to start making our way back to the car. We did underestimate how far from the car we had actually walked, figuring we were only about 10 minutes away with the way we had looped around.
Meanwhile, my boots had started rubbing again, and I was definitely not a happy camper anymore. Ash was wondering why I was going slower and slower, when eventually I owned up and said that my feet were hurting. This ended up in a full whinge-fest by me on the way back, culminating in me saying to Ash “If I have to wear these boots on the way to Everest, I’ll burn them by the third day and walk the rest of the trek in my Birkenstocks!” Moral of the story: it’s an awesome idea to buy your hiking boots well in advance of a long trek and try them out first!
Around 45 minutes or so of walking along the road, with each of regularly thinking that we could see the CFA building “just up there”, starting to wonder if we were going the right way, and me trying to look where we were on Google maps, we were both super excited to finally reach the car! We then headed home for a celebratory beer to commemorate our first training hike, me vowing to buy new boots all the way!
All in all, we had a great afternoon in our hike around the Sherbrooke Forest, we’re lucky to have such beautiful bushland so close to the city. We’re aiming to do regular hikes in various places, increasing in length in the lead up to our Everest Base Camp Trek, so hopefully the trek won’t be too hard on us and we’ll just have the altitude to deal with!
Any walks or hikes close to Melbourne that you’d like to recommend?