I feel lucky to be living in a small country town, with a Parks Vic reserve in the gully below us, and endless opportunities for walking and MTB riding. It’s been a mild and gorgeous autumn so far, with a good bit of rain. I’m keeping in touch with friends, family and workmates (although feel that I now spend most of my life in Zoom meetings) and I feel grateful to have a safe place to be during the pandemic.
But cabin fever is setting in. Its Easter, but we need to stay home and not travel for adventures (and the alpine parks are closed). We really don’t know what will happen with ski season – will it happen at all, or will it start late? (There are growing conversations about a ‘delayed’ ski season rather than an outright cancellation). Will the national parks be open if the resorts are closed? What about backcountry huts? So many unknowns. All we can do is wait. Be patient. Watch some films and read some stuff, and be kind to each other.
Yet there is so much stress. I worry about my mum, who is very frail. I worry about friends whose businesses were hammered by summer fires and now mountain lock downs. I worry about the people on the fringes, who don’t have support or safe places. I worry about my friends working on the front lines of the health crisis. I’m deeply pissed off that Tasmania just handed over 350,000 hectares of forests to the logging industry, and that logging continues in Victoria in spite of the lock down. I worry about all the dodgy things governments will do while we’re all at home.
Being in the mountains keeps me sane. I am at my best above tree line. I feel at home. I can relate to snowboarder Jeremy Jones when he says “I’m a train wreck out of the mountains; the wheels come off’‘. So, with trips cancelled, winter unclear, and other plans on hold, I find myself day dreaming about the trips to come.
I often say that the joy of doing a good backcountry trip is 10% anticipation, 60% experience, and 30% reflection afterwards. Sometimes you dream about a trip for months, and when you finally get out there, the snow is crap or it doesn’t stop raining, or your hiking mate trashes their feet on day one. But that really doesn’t matter. That’s part of the adventure. I remember fine details from those magic moments on trips from decades ago. That feeling as you start the ski off the mountain you just spent a day climbing, the rumble of ice in a freezing river in Alaska, that perfect dawn above a lake in Tasmania.
That’s what I’m dreaming about now. The trips to come. And the trips enjoyed. Working on the list for when we finally receive the ‘get out of jail’ card (a slow wander into Mt Howitt is currently top of the list).
Hope it’s the same for you. Dream big. And in the meantime, stay safe.
The HEADER image is looking towards Ironstone Mountain on the Central Plateau of TAS. Got close a couple of times. Its definitely on the list.
If you haven’t followed Mark and Andy’s epic crossing of the AAWT a couple of winters ago, you must check this out. Day by day diaries and videos of walking/ skiing the track in incredible winter conditions.