It was one of those shamefully delightful evenings. Early on a Saturday night I had retired to bed, with some trashy DVDs and a bottle of port. Yes sir, like a proper alcoholic. A friend touched base via SMS asking what I was up to. At this point, one could paint a picture. Was I having a quiet drink? Was I already out or heading out? Who was I kidding. I had my track pants on and a bottle of McLaren Vale “daddy long legs”. I fessed up and was delightfully pleased to find that he was drinking at home alone as well. And yes. Drinking alone together is less sad. So via the bottle shop to stock up with further supplies, I soon found myself exceedingly drunk watching the extended directors cut of the Lord of the Rings.
I knew my only commitment the following day was a leisurely dinner at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate a friends birthday, so my seedy walk home mid morning the next day thru the CBD wasn’t ringing any alarm bells.
The sun was viciously bright. I strolled on feeling greasy, tired and dehydrated, whilst trying to simultaneously not vomit and telephone my friend. The standard happy birthday greeting. And what have you got planned for today? I knew the plans. We would have a fabulous tapas dinner with a curious selection of foreign wines. Delightful.
And then it struck. They requested my company on the occasion of his birthday. For a bush walk.
How hard could this be?
They were older friends. We were probably going to stroll around some wheel chair accessible duck boarding and then retire to a quiet dinner. I dragged myself home – which granted, was already a considerable walk, had a quick shower and a coffee. I was set.
The first hint that this was not merely a quiet walk through the botanical gardens came when the arrival at our destination simply didn’t. We drove on. And on. Climbing and winding, out beyond the CBD and into a strange area that I had never set foot in before.
As we pulled up into the car park, yes indeed, we weren’t in Kansas any more Toto.
However, just as I had suspected, clear tracks, duckboards and picturesque look outs over water falls. How civilized. And yet, the track kept going. And so did we.
Now there was something that I, in my track-pants and runners, was not expecting. Curiously, it seemed that the faint traces of blood in my alcohol stream were insufficient to support the poor creatures, and for the entirety of the trip whilst many clung aboard, only one little sucker decided to have a go.
The elevation continued to increase, and the track became more abstract.
We walked on. I hadn’t eaten since 6:00pm the night before, so the stop for biscuits at morning tea time was ever so civilized. It was at this point that I
stupidly offered to carry one of the backpacks. I failed to recall prior to hoisting the pack onto my back that traveling with a Dutchman does have its advantages – they think of everything – as well as its disadvantages – I was carrying a small commercial kitchen and what appeared to be enough rations for a nuclear winter upon my back.
Further, we climbed.
The wet bush abruptly ended and as we rose above it we began to crawl through dry, twiggy and overgrown paths, winding ever further upwards. For what seemed a good half hour I had to hold my hands above my head as the track was so narrow the hedge like border did not permit you to leave your bare arms hanging by your sides.
This was no leisurely bush walk. We were casually climbing a “challenging” grade walking track to a summit of 1260m.
My legs were shaking, whilst my stomach seemed to be rotating itself – possibly lubricated by the immense amount of sweat I was now dispensing. Oh joyous moment when three hours later we finally reached a small hut, and luncheons were served.
No wonder the bloody backpack was heavy. Out came tea cups, cutlery and masses of all types of food. Whilst I do appreciate the finer selections of cheeses and cured meats, on this particular occasion I would have gladly suffered with tomatoe and ham had I not had to lug the contents of the larder three quarters of the way to the top of a mountain.
Thankfully, this food was exactly what I needed before embarking on the final survivor esque leg of the journey. The final ascent to the summit was primarily compiled of large borders for one to jump around and across like some kind of deranged mountain goat on two legs.
As we reached the summit, the truly touching moment came when the true connection to and significance of this mountain top was revealed, and how glad they were that I could share their special place with them.
So there we were. Looking out over the immense, wild west coast. My two dear friends in loving embrace, as I delicately spewed the precious little food I had eaten over the last 12 hours down the rock face into the valley below.
And dinner, you may ask?
By the time we arrived back in town, we had to suffice with a takeaway.
First world problems: having to share significant moments with your friends. On the top of a picturesque and stunning mountain, in the arse end of civilization as we know it.