Pete Clark 0:01
Welcome to this week's edition of The Freedom Fridays podcast. With me, your host, Pete Clark, The Whispers Guy.
I thought I would do a solo podcast this week, and chat about and share some thoughts around what I've been writing about on my Weekly Whispers blog. The insights that I got from doing a hike in Tasmania, it's called the Overland Track. And it allowed space and reflection time with mates, with nature. And it got me thinking about a few things. And I thought, rather than me spending a little bit of time trying to articulate all of those thoughts into readable chunks, I thought I would just talk them out. And some of which are obvious, some of which are less obvious, some of which ironically are paradoxical.
And for a bit of back context, this was maybe a year ago, I met him and asked me if I wanted to join him and some other friends on hike in Tasmania. I said yes, without even knowing what it was. And then when he told me that all seemed good. I didn't quite realise what I was up for. So the the Overland Track is one of the highest rated treks in Australia, maybe even in the world, it's an overnight hike. So you have to hike if you're going to do the full Overland Track, which is about 70-80 kilometres in length, you can take off shoots and go up certain peaks, which adds to the distance. But it's about 5-6-7 nights, 5-6-7 days off tracking, the main challenge for me was carrying my own stuff. And so there are huts, and actually quite luxurious in hindsight huts, where you can stay dry and sleep, and it's warm, on the way there. And on the way to the next point, you're carrying 20-22 upwards kilogrammes on your back, as you trek 10-15-25 kilometres per day. So it was relatively challenging physically. But what I found, perhaps the most insightful was that space, that connection with nature is to ponder some reflections.
The first reflection that I pondered was actually quite paradoxical as in both of these insights are true, and they're both not true. And when they are true is for our own determination. And the first one was to stop, pause and look back and remember where we come from. However, the paradox is, to try and keep focused on what's in front of you. Now, the reason it's paradoxical is because I found myself at the back of the pack on occasions, which gave me the opportunity to actually stop not trying to follow the pace of the group, but to stop and pause, reflect on the landscape that we'd come from. And to appreciate the distance we've come the time I've taken the effort that I taken to get here. And yet there were many situations where if I was looking too far ahead, I would trip up on the path. And there was quite a few points where there was boardwalk and planks, and if you did trip, you probably going to hurt yourself, and you're probably then going to get absolutely soaked because it was quite wet and boggy in certain places.
So here's perhaps the first paradoxical thought, to find the time, the attention, the mindset to stop, pause, look back as often as appropriate, whilst, at the same time, or in parallel, making sure you focus on what's in front of you. And the reason, I think they're paradoxical because I had to find ways to do both. If I was too attentive to how far we had to go, or how far we'd come, I might lose my footing of what's in front of me. Whereas if that's the only thing I focused on, I wouldn't have been inspired to go wow, look where we've come from. So there was a number of moments where stopping along your back was appropriate. And there was a number of moments where focus more right on what's in front of you. And as you take your own journeys around, you know, any of these trips that you might do, or any of the aspects of life, it's that toggling between stopping and pausing and looking back, and being grateful and thankful as to what you have and where you've come from, but also then focusing on at the right time, what's in front of you what's right in front of your nose, this minute, this hour this day, this week, in the aspects of your life that are important, and to pay attention to that.
There was a second paradoxical insight for me and this was a little bit of a cliche, but it was certainly true for us in that don't go alone, yet go at your own pace. There's an old adage that if you want to go fast go alone. And if you want to go further go together. And that's certainly bore out for us that we certainly are different levels of fitness and capability. And so had we done it individually that have been very, very different times and experiences. And we all bought into doing it together, which meant the things we did were different, and probably wouldn't have experienced them on their own. And yet, as I said, I found myself at the back of the pack. On many occasions in the first few days, which I was fine with. I think others in the group were feeling bad for me. And I was actually fine with it, because it allowed me to stop and connect and take in my surroundings. I didn't feel like the need to just keep up with the person in front of me, I was actually able to and I quite enjoyed going up my my own pace. And one of the stories of us going further together. And we had a long, interesting debate over coffee. On the second day. I think it was we at the end of the that hike. There was a lake that was swimmable. And bear in mind, this is March, April. So coming into late autumn winter, in Australia, and you know, if you don't live in Australia, it might seem hard to believe. But in Tasmania, it's pretty far south and it gets pretty chilly. And so the water is pretty damn cold. And so there was a call, maybe four o'clock in the afternoon, just before it gets dark. Let's go for a swim. Of course. I wasn't that keen, to be honest, I not for any other reason than believe or not being a Scot I hate the cold. But I just wasn't that keen. But because of whether it was fo-mo, or whether it was peer group pressure, that's when we had a debate about we all went down to the lakeside stripped off into our undies. And we all head in shoulders in. And you know, not for long, let me tell you, but we all swam of sorts in the lake. And the reason had I been on my own. I don't think there's any way I would have done that. And did that experience add to my life? Not particularly however, what did I add to my life was the connection that we had the fun the chat to banter we had after before and afterwards about because we were together, that's probably why certainly me and I think maybe one or two others did it. Now, you know, we we didn't settle on whether that was fear of missing out or whether it was peer group pressure. And I'm not sure it really matters. The point being for us that because we work together in a group, there's obviously a bit of a blessing in that you're more likely to do things. And certainly over the course of the six nights seven days behind there were some times when we're all pretty tired. And yet somebody was inspired or wanted to go off on an off-shoot hike, which might have only been, you know, 8k and 8k back, maybe 1500 metres vertical, so not that strenuous. But at the end of the day, I'm not sure if I can be bothered. And yet being together. I can't think of an occasion maybe one but I'm pretty sure on most occasions, we all went anyway. And so it forced us to do things together. And yet, in that we all found our own pace at certain things. So that was another interesting thing for me is you know, going together we certainly went further than probably I would have gone on my own albiet I probably would have gone faster.
Another almost paradoxical thing for us was on day one, leaving from Cradle Mountain end of the track. Cradle Mountain I think is the most iconic part of the trip. When we got to the first summit where you could see Cradle Mountain what the advice we were given was if you can't see it don't go. Meaning if it's covered in cloud and mist and you know rain and fog, it's probably not wise to go because that means it's a little bit treacherous. A little bit unsafe and you know, we'd probably be okay. But again being good scouts we followed the advice and we didn't go and so we kind of missed out a little bit. And the Insight was you know, if you can't see it, don't go and is that true for all things. If you can't visualise if you can't see the outcome don't take part don't take the next step. No, because on I think it was day four we got to park on the track where the off hike was a walk and almost scramble, almost climb to the top of Mount Ossa, which is the highest peak in Tasmania. And when we got there, we couldn't see the top. We couldn't see it. That was partly because of the weather. But partly because there was some hidden summits. You know, we'd get to one summit and think we're there. And then you'd look up and go, oh, there's a bit more, those hidden, blind Summit. So again, the premise was, just because we couldn't see it. We didn't not go. And so here's the paradox for us, you know, this first insert around or if you can't see it, don't go. Can't visualise it, imagine it happening don't dare. Whereas the opposite was also true. We couldn't see it. And yet we went anyway. And both in hindsight, were probably I would say the right decisions. Certainly whether on day one, we couldn't see the Cradle Mountain summit was probably the right thing. And on day four or five, I think when we couldn't see the some of them also, but we knew it was up there and kind of probably two or three blind summits ahead, we went anyway. And it was a great experience. So I can't tell you when these insights will apply, I'm only referencing my own experience of it, you know, it applied in one context perfectly well, and applied in a lot of context, it might not work so well.
The track was first taken, or maybe I can't remember exactly 50/60/70 years ago, when there was no, none of the modern gear. None of the hearts none of the tracks were serviced or looked after there was no investment in the track. Now obviously, with all that investment, and all that care and attention. It's walkable for many, many people. And so we were really grateful for those that had gone before, that had built the huts that had laid down some stones and rocks and boulders to cross various wet lands. For some of the boardwalk for some of the planks that were there, that meant we didn't have to get as wet, as I'm sure the first few thousand people doing the track would have got. And so we're grateful that for those that came before us, but there was a little bit of adventure in being able to forge our own path anyway. Forging our own way around certain parts of the track and choosing to go on certain off hikes or not. And so whilst there was a very deep gratitude for those that had gone before, and laid the groundwork for us to do it, there was very much and working with take her on an adventure. Yeah, where do we choose our own adventure to go into resetting the young it was on day three, it was an off hike we did. That was pretty tough, almost vertical scramble to get the top of a summit, which had a spectacular look. And when we got to the top, the walk to the edge, was pretty much our own path. And that was quite interesting and inspiring to do. So that again, is paradoxical insight of be grateful for those that have gone before that I've laid the path for you, whatever that means. And yet, can you find your own path, which is entirely unique to you. And some of the other things that I wrote about, I put in this little, little green journal that I took with me. And whilst we're having our afternoon, tea and sugar and coffee and soup, I would take a moment and usually and company. And the lads often wondered what I was doing, obviously, I'd shared that. But I was just writing reflections and thoughts and questions, and trying to milk the experience, beyond just having the experience for potential metaphors and insights and thoughts that I could use in the work that I do. And so other other things that struck me were random things like when we were going up and down some of the more severe slopes, the health and safety premises to always have three points of contact. You know, one arm, one hand, two legs, or two arms, one leg, so always having three points of contact because that's more stable. I wonder if in our own lives, we've got three points of contact. And might we struggle sometimes with only one or two. So again, it's more of a metaphor here. What would three points of contact look like? For you to be able to see if they traverse up or down more challenging routes that life might throw at you Often when we're on the track, because of the way the countryside because of the slopes and because of the path, we could often see the end the hut, which was our store for warmth and food and dryness, we'd often find ourselves having it in sight, but then the track taking us off left and almost doubling back on ourselves. So whilst we were really, really close, there was many occasions when the path would take us back on ourselves and take us further away from our destination. So just because we could see the destination, doesn't mean to say the path is going to take you directly now. We found ourselves zigzagging and coming back and looking and doing all sorts of things like that, to finally make it towards the destination. And when you can finally see a clear path to the daily destination. It was there was a re energising, there was an energy picked up in our walking pace as we got closer and closer to the destination. But when we got distracted, or deterred or taken off that direct route, it was interesting how, how we responded to that. When we stopped each day, the temptation was to lay out our gear, get it dry, eat, you know, stick some sugar in our throat. So we could feel energised about what was gonna happen next. And what all of us experience was, sometimes we would do that. And sometimes we wouldn't do that. The most important thing we found was, you know, using the analogy of putting your own oxygen mask on first was to get comfortable first. So wet clothes off dry clothes on wet shoes off sandals on, you know, whatever we were going to be spending the rest of the afternoon and evening and sleeping in was to get comfortable, get dry, warm fed first before you did anything else. And certainly, whilst it wasn't, you know, a life or death hike, there was situations where it was pretty tricky. And coming in and not doing that meant you got colder and wetter and your body temperature didn't heat up. So it was quite a challenge sometimes to do that. First, when you really wanted to put the kettle on and have a cup of tea. We stayed in what I would call luxurious parts of the huts were pretty basic, you know, aluminium tabletops wooden benches to sleep on. But what we found was that that luxury was absolutely contextual, meaning at the end of a 15 kilometre hike on a wet day, with 20 kilogrammes of gear on your back, to be able to stop, take that off and be in relative dry and wind and rain. No nowhere near us because we were indoors with a fire on and be able to get the gas out and boil up some water. It absolutely was contextual. And it got me thinking about other aspects of our lives. That whether it's luxurious or not, it's it's contextual, depends on your circumstance. Wherever you live, the job you have the relationships you have the opportunities that are presented to you or not. It's all contextual. And that was interesting. Because the hardest part for me without a doubt, was the carrying of the pack. And it was a 70 litre rucksack with you know, sleeping bags, sleeping mat, cooking utensils, all the food for the week. And whilst obviously every meal you are taking food and using it. It made a measurable difference of the weight on your back. We had to carry a tent just in case in case the hops full. So it's 20 or 20 to 24 kilogrammes of weight on your back. The visceral relief that I had certainly because I found that the hardest when particularly when you're going up hill was we on the off tracks were with Pakistan
you know, uncover them so the rain didn't get in. But then we were just walking with a daypack which was you know, water in some Scroggin some nuts and chocolate and bits and pieces just to keep us energised. That was a very different experience. And I wonder just this metaphor of laying down What we're carrying, whether that be shame or embarrassment, or trauma, or the heaviness of our goals or the pressures of work, or the all the achievements that sit on our metaphorical mantelpiece, I wonder sometimes, I certainly find it valuable to take that stuff off. And you've I felt freer, I could move quicker. I felt lighter. Physically, yes. But I wonder how often emotionally we might feel lighter. If we were to not get rid of it, because it's quite hard, quite challenging to necessarily forget and get rid of it, just lay down for an hour, just take it off, you can pick it back up again, but take it off, just for the next day. Just for the next moment, just for the next experience. I thought that was insightful for me in terms of just the significance of being able to take that weight off. And certainly through, you know, what's become known as the, you know, BC before COVID. And AC after coffee, that kind of pandemic experience we had. People carried more than just weight. And I wonder how often that carrying of weight just gets harder and harder and harder, whilst for me, the weight got less and less and less literally, because of the food. And as we got to the end of the week, probably four or five kilogrammes less because of the food diet. For a lot of people we carry it, we carry the responsibility we carry the roles that we have, we carry unsurmountable challenges thinking that perhaps in the carrying of them, there'll be resolved. And so pondering that question, what what could you lay down for an hour and to feel lighter? Walk that'd be helpful for
one thing that was helpful for me in the preparation was this idea of hedonic calendaring, which is simply hedonic is pleasurable. calendaring, is having something in your diary ahead of time that you're looking forward to any of you with elderly parents or north of you know, coming to see you for the weekend, or that kind of see the grandkids. If there's something in the diary, it's worth looking forward to. And it was the same for me having something in my diary, you know, boy, time, mates time on something I hadn't done before, that was a physical mental challenge, it was a new experience. For the six months of prep that it was in my diary, before we went, I really look forward to that time, and almost pushed the experience, missed it a little bit missed having something in my diary to look forward to so become better at thinking about before the end of this experience arrives, is having something else, something else that's pleasurable, it's happier. So it's a it's a bucket list thing. It's something that I'm looking forward to having it in my diary. So, you know, at the end of the first adventure, there's another adventure coming up in a month or another adventure next year or another adventure, at some point in time. So that was very visceral. For me having that in my diary was, was a good thing.
There was many times on the walking part, we would take a break. And often the Insight was, we would take a break before we needed it. Meaning physiologically, if you are thirsty, you're probably a bit late. So we'd encourage each other to you know, near the lawn, you know, nuts, chocolate Scroggin. Not necessarily because you are hungry, but to constantly refuel, to constantly hydrate appropriately. And so this idea of taking a break, before you need a break, when you need it, it's maybe too late. Obviously, the break will help you. But I'm wondering if there's ways in which we can find ourselves refreshed re energised, that allows us to continue to keep going. But yes, we get to the burnout stage. You need to fix that and you need to do something about that. But on the way, could we find ways to avoid burnout? Can we find ways to re energise? Refresh, relax, rest, recover on the way because life's gonna throw many things at us. And just this idea of whatever The break means whether it's a hedonic break, whether it's a physical break, whether it's a sleep break, is to probably take the break before you need it. The Overland Track was a wonderful experience in nature. And I certainly found that nature nurtures meaning our immersion in nature pretty much 24/7 Most of the track is mobile unfriendly, meaning there was very, very few spots where the mobile providers could find us. And that was actually excellent. It was brilliant, challenging and or if you're closing on a house, or you've got kids on the way or, you know, parents are real, I appreciate there's lots of challenges with that. But I was fortunate enough to not need that circumstance. So it was actually after the first 24 hours, it was a relief. Because the nature, the grounding in nature, the swimming in the cold water, the circumstances, the trees, the clouds, the rain, the sunshine, the birds, the flowers, all of that stuff, it was just really good to reconnect with all of that. And we know the psychological benefits of connecting back to nature. So I was immersed in that for six days. And it was fantastic. And ironically, as we've got close to the end, as we're close to our destination, a number of the mobile services came in and you could hear the pinging, you know, the texts coming in the WhatsApp coming in the email notifications coming in. And it was a little bit of a hot, sick woman actually, where, oh, we're back, we're back into another reality. Or we're back on the work trail, we're back on the responding to family, friends, etc, etc. And they were prior to that it was, it was a lovely experience was not to do any of that. Other things that I enjoyed
other random thoughts I had was looking too far ahead. might scare you. But it's great in hindsight. And again, assuming you make progress. And so this idea that sometimes when we set ourselves, you know, huge, big, big goals, as they might be called, that can be scary. But in hindsight, what a great feeling is to know that you've overcome and navigated some really challenging circumstances. Efforts are worth it. Meaning the effort we put in, often on those off hikes to get to a particular summit. The effort that we put in to get an experience, the view and the experience and the perspective we got, maybe not every time, but certainly most times were worth it. So the effort we put in, usually is worth it. When we're Reclaiming my casa, it was a bit of a scramble, not nothing too tricky, really. But I'm scared of heights that really like heights. But interesting for me, and a couple of people recognise actually it was, I was very silent, growing up very silent. I was actually not coping too well with it. But growing up was a lot harder than coming down. Despite obviously, at the same height, there was something that my mind was doing to play tricks on itself. So scrambling over those rocks, going round corners, over gaps jumping between big rocks and big boulders, going up felt a lot scarier than actually doing the same journey. But just coming down even on the Wi Fi fell on either, it would have been the same consequence, pretty much. So there's something my mind was doing. It was it was playing tricks, on the consequence of me going up versus coming down. There's not really many ways to know what you'll do in certain certain circumstances unless you try unless you make an attempt unless you take a step. So yes, there's some banter around what we do in this scenario in that scenario, but you won't really know viscerally until it happens until you are forced to be challenged with whatever the weather conditions are, whatever the gear conditions are, whatever the terrain conditions are, unless you're actually there. It was very different. got very unrealistic to articulate academically, what it was going to be like was a much better experience as actually doing it. And then reflecting on that experience. You can find beauty anywhere. There was many moments. And the simplest things, fungi, flowers, birds, tree shapes, the light shades. Some of the photographs that we took just now obviously nothing like the naked eye, but just beautiful, beautiful capturing of a moment. And so despite the terrain and the challenge of it, and the wilderness and the remoteness, there was some absolutely stunning scenes of beauty. And we all reflected that, we'd all experienced that. And therefore, you could find those things, anywhere. If you're looking. The final thing I'll share with you was I get a little bit paradoxical in that, we found that our, our bodies were strengthening our mind, more than our mind was strengthening our body. Meaning our minds were saying things like, as we got close to the end, and we're tired, and we're hungry, I can only go so far. I hope it's not too dark. I hope I've got enough, whatever the mind was doing, as the body kept walking. Because literally in the group that was kind of one of the advantages. That was one of the things that strengthened our mind, to the body, just keeping going just one step after another, we're just going to climb up to the next thought Summit, we're going to climb down to the next corner, whatever it was just the body doing that actually strengthen their mind rather than or instead of what we often hear about, you know, the main you know, your mindset strength and your body. Keep going, keep going keep going. It was obviously a part of that. But for us on many occasions, it was the body strengthening the mind more than the mainstream thing, the body. So I'm gonna pause, I'm gonna leave it with you there. Hopefully that was insightful and interesting. I thoroughly recommend it as an experience. The planning was a great experience, the preparation and the practice of carrying and what gear you're going to take was a great experience. The hike itself was a great experience, not just for the hate, but from the camaraderie and all of the insights and the experience that we had, and certainly something I considered doing again, and maybe the same, maybe different. So that's it for this week's episode of The Freedom phase podcast, some ramblings as I was rambling on the Overland Track cheers
Transcribed by https://otter.ai