Whilst others have often doubted, I have always trusted the concept of instinct and woman’s intuition, but in my quest to achieve my self-imposed ‘new year’s resolution’ of completing all the walks in my walk book, I discover that I have reason to take note of my failure to recognise my own ability in this area, and slap myself across the proverbial metaphorical face.
Last week, despite my chosen walk having been decided a couple of days in advance, I didn’t actually bother to organise my daypack until the morning of the said adventure. The obvious things were packed; water, sunscreen, guidebook. However, there were a few usual culprits that failed to make it in. The Epirb, a usual mainstay, stared at me from atop the wardrobe shelf. I actually had a conversation with it (one-sided, of course). “Surely, I won’t need you. I am following guide notes. I can’t possibly get lost.” So it stayed where it was. And a cursory look for the small first aid kit revealed nothing either, so this too didn’t get packed.
I also didn’t have a topographic map of the chosen track, which is usually, for risk-averse me, an essential. When I have them, I carry my topographic maps in a map case, within which permanently live a lead pencil and a compass. Not having the topo map, meant I didn’t have the map case and therefore, didn’t have the compass. For a bushwalker, the compass is probably close to the most important piece of equipment to have with you! Again I had a one-sided conversation. “I wont get lost. The guidebook will be all I need. At the door, I briefly reconsidered, and then ignored, an internal warning thought. I left the compass behind.
After stopping to buy nuts and chocolate for energy snacks, I reached the start of the walk around 11am, and smothering myself with sunscreen, confidently left the car looking forward to an eventful day.
Sometimes it is very easy to misinterpret guidebooks, especially if there are many animal tracks around, and ignoring a very obvious orange triangle track marker because of an (mis)interpretation of the mud map in my hands, I found myself following a track that reasonably followed the book’s track description. I had no way of knowing at the time, however, that I was heading in completely the wrong direction. It has been proven in experiments that we walk in circles even if we think we are walking in a straight line. In this case when we thought we were walking north, we were actually walking south, even using our (not so at the time) common sense looking at the bush around us. We arrived, 2 hours in, by the narrowest of luckiest margins, on a track that met a junction with our original path; a location we’d been at a couple of hours before. If only I had listened to my gut and grabbed that compass……
So it was with the above experience in my mind, I spent more time, and more thought, in packing for last Sunday’s adventure.
Again I had the conversation with the Epirb and decided, again, to leave it behind. The walk was to Fort Nepean; a popular walk where the tracks are monitored by the Rangers and if you don’t want to walk back, for a mere $10 you can get a lift back, via a main road, in a 40 seater coach.
I don’t have a topographic map of this area either but for the reasons stated above, there was no need from a safety or navigation point of view (And there are mud maps available from the Visitor Information Centre). Mobile telephone reception is readily available at this location, so whilst we didn’t take a traditional compass, the modern technology of mobile phone applications gave us a compass we could use.
When it came to look for the first aid kit, this time I searched for longer. I looked in the nooks and crannies of my overnight hiking pack, the green shopping bag that has the odds and ends of hiking gear and the big plastic bucket that contains most of the usual hiking bits and pieces. I didn’t find it. But whilst digging around in the tub, amongst a mix of items, I noted the head net for a hiking hat. I picked it up, turned it over and considered packing it. It really would be a good idea. But, I reasoned, on the last walk the flies weren’t really a problem, and that was in the bush. This walk was in a coastal area. Sea breezes should move the flies along. I considered it again and put the head net back in the box.
And I was correct, in the main. The sea breezes did keep the flies at bay. But when I wasn’t moving they were all over me. Seeing someone else safe within her own head net, I rued leaving my head net behind. And the ultimate kick that I’d made the wrong decision: after several near misses with the pesky flies, I managed to swallow two of them!
For the second week in a row, I had ignored my instincts and rejected an item that my instincts had clearly been trying to tell me I should have with me. Next time, I’ll try to be more attentive and listen!