Not to take anything away from little Puffles and Jay’s grand hiking adventure, but their experience is not exactly typical of those who hike the Scenic Rim. And not just because nobody else climbed trees 🙂
To be clear, this was luxury hiking, which is why little Puffles and Jay went on this adventure, but the luxury came at the end of the day, after some serious hiking. We had no problem understanding the luxury aspects of the adventure 🙂 but it turns out we had no idea what the hiking part of the adventure entailed. My good intentions about my fitness level did not translate into sufficient action on the matter, but at least I managed to prepare with the right gear. Although my idea of wearing in my hiking boots was to wear them to the office for a couple of days. Well, it worked! But I don’t recommned this approach. Too much reliance on sheer damn luck that it will all work out.
Over the three days we hiked around 35km, hiked up about 1100m the first day and 1200m on the third day (in total we climbed the equivalent of over three times the Empire State Building – that is 102 floors three times over!), and we hiked over rocks and trees and everything else that got in the way. While carrying a backpack!
The first two days went by somehow with awe at the stunning views of the Scenic Rim, getting to know fellow hikers and our two amazing guides and with Puffles and Jay providing a suitable distraction with their antics 🙂 At the end of the two days we enjoyed the comforts of Spicers Canopy and the wonderful cooking of Rachel and Josh. In the meantime the temperature was dropping steadily and the wind was increasing just as steadily and exponentially! The first night at Spicers Canopy there were fleeting thoughts of the tents being blown away and this joke came to mind: “I wake up staring at the stars and wondering – Where the heck is my tent?” At this point I must mention that despite the freezing temperatures, we did not feel cold at night. The bed was simply wonderful and wonderfully warm, also helped by the hot water bottles from the hot water bottle fairy 🙂
Before long the third day arrived, and the biggest challenge of the hike. By now all illusions of lush rolling hills and pleasant walks (think Julie Andrews in the hills in the Sound of Music) had well and truly been crashed by reality. All muscles between my toes, now with a few blisters, and my gluteus maximus were sore like they had never been before. On a side note, I went to a fitness boot-camp a few years back, and it was a walk in the park compared to this hike. The temperature had dropped to somewhere around freezing and the wind was blowing at gale force speeds.
So when we left on the third day at the bright and early time of 8am, I was quite apprehensive, and dressed for a blizard. And I was still cold! Around 10am we checked the temperature and the wind, and it was 8°C that felt like 5°C and the wind speed was 41km/h!
Incredibly, there was one advantage to being that cold. I could no longer feel my legs! I lost count of how many times I thought I was not going to make it on that third day. But then options were seriously limited. As in only one available, to take a deep breath and keep going forward, one step at a time. It’s just over one day later and I am already asking myself if it ever happened. But five other brave adventurers, two amazing guides and a whole lot of photos all say that it did happen. Not to mention an impressive collection of bruises (and that’s just the ones I can see!), a tender right ankle (from overflexing) and all the hiking gear in my suitcase!
If like Honey and Isabelle you are asking “What did you do that for?” the answer is, the only way to stay at Spicers Canopy is to do the hike. The only other way is to hire the entire site. I know, I asked! With short-cuts not available, we joined the hike. Would I have done it if I had known how hard it was going to be? I would like to think so, but hopefully I would have prepared better. Although as it was pointed out, we all made it despite being surprised by the level of the challenge! The limiting factor turned out to be not my leg muscles, but the ability of my heart to pump blood fast enough to the working muscles and of my lungs to oxygenate the blood to the level required by the effort involved. With no control over involuntary and cardiac muscle, the only way to manage was to stop and wait until breathing and heart rate came down a bit before taking off again. Right now the experience feels surreal.
Spicers Peak Lodge is a luxury retreat for adults, quiet and dignified. The arrival of six euphoric hikers and two little bears 🙂 totally shattered the silence and the formality of the atmosphere. The formality was further shattered by four little bears running around the lodge 🙂 checking everything out. While Puffles, Honey, Isabelle and Jay were sitting on the couch in the lounge all dressed up for dinner, some other guests arrived, looked at them and said to some of the staff, there are teddy bears on the couch! I did not hear the response.
Now that it’s over I am certainly glad I did it. It was an amazing experience, exhilarating, thrilling, intoxicating! Yes, I know, they are all synonyms. And I am talking about the hike, not just the special treatment at Spicers Canopy and Spicers Peak Lodge. The icing on the cake (and we do like cake!) was all the people we met on this adventure. They made the experience a truly unforgettable adventure.
We’ll talk about the dense rainforest of Spicers Peak, with giant ferns and awe-inspiring 1,000-year-old hoop pines, about the panoramic views of Spicers Gap and the Great Dividing Range in a future post. Right now we are going to celebrate little Puffles big day with a royal high tea. Stay tuned for photos 🙂