Tag Archives: life

I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore

It’s not my usual style. But at the same time I felt the need to share. Especially for those who also don’t have a clue who they are right now either.

The truth is, I am too tired to even know who I am anymore. The only thing I seem to enjoy in this world right now is sleep because I am so damn deprived of it. And even when I manage to get loads of sleep, I still feel like I am roaming around like a part of the zombie apocalypse that modern society is creating with its “work ethic”. I get up tired. I go to work tired. I deal with children all day who have behavioural issues and many of whom don’t want to learn. I sit through meetings asking us to do more. I get given more work and then I go home. Once I get home I am too tired to cook dinner so in goes the microwave dinner discounted from Sainsburys. I then sit like a vegetable, take in some semblance of a story line from Law and Order, churn out some more work, then attempt to sleep while my brain still stirs with stressful thoughts about work. After 6 or so shitty hours of tossing and turning and dreaming about stressful crap,  the whole thing resets itself and on goes the Groundhog Day. I get to the weekend and all I dream about is sleep to try and catch up on what I have missed.  The truth is a weekend is never enough. And if I do go out and try to socialise I feel even more exhausted for trying to have a normal life. I took some time to go home and rest and was confronted with a whole lot of things that weren’t great and quite emotionally confronting. It didn’t allow me to get the rest that I needed. I came back feeling numb and unable to process any of the feelings I had about anything.

And with that, I decided that something has to change. When all you do is the daily grind and you are too tired to even remember what you like anymore let alone do any of the things that you like then your life isn’t about you, it becomes about feeding into the system. A system that I always said was not as important as my quality of life. And yet somehow I find myself swallowed so deeply in this system that I am not entirely sure how to get out. It makes me question how society teaches us our value as a person and how to foster our self worth. Because everyone trying to make a buck on this earth will have you believe it is proportional to how hard you work for them. Which is a load of shit.

I know right now I am not the only person on the planet that feels this kind of exhaustion from being abused in a system that doesn’t love you and doesn’t want to help you. I have to remind myself constantly that nobody’s gravestone ever said “was awesome at their job and spent loads of time working”.  In the end of life people value who you were to others and whether you were a kind and good person. It’s hard to be these incredible things to others when you have no time for yourself. It is hard to be amazing and kind when you’ve given so much of yourself to your work that you have nothing left for yourself let alone others. It is hard to remember how to be excited and how to feel anything when all you feel is tired.

And with that I made my decision.  I quit. I gave my notice, I booked my bus to leave. Then I booked a flight to the place I dream of. And so I plan to go and find myself. To remember who I am. Remember what I like. Remember how to go and have fun. Remember how to be loved fiercely. Things I barely remember right now, but know deep down that these things are so very important. Because this life is short. And I choose to live it. For myself, and for those that can’t anymore. I’m taking back life.

 

Being the Edo Elf

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with this story, I found myself becoming somewhat of a Canadian celebrity of sorts. I wound up becoming the face of Edo Japan’s Christmas promotion to help out people and give back to the community. I am sitting at the hostel one day going through my emails for different promotions jobs and I get another email requesting for people to dress up as Elves and run around doing good deeds for people. They also wanted two people to do some photos and to do a small video showing off the good deeds for Youtube. Information wasn’t overly forthcoming but since I will literally give anything a try, I wrote back and said I would do it. They wrote me back and said. good work, you have been chosen. Meet us this day at the office and with hair and make up done and we will do the photos.

I arrive at the office and the usher me off to a professional photography studio with my friend Marco where we get fussed over to the max with heaps of direction and people playing with my clothes and hair and hat and it goes on and on. Massively professional photos to go on the webpage and in the restaurants. I am starting to get suspicious of the magnitude of this campaign….

Two days later and it is even more full on. There were hair and make up artists waiting for us with all of the camera crew at the Sunridge Mall and I am thinking, “Holy hell this is a production and a half!”. And it was. This is Marco and I hanging about waiting for the filming to begin and getting all doled up and elf like.


Marco and I spent all day filming different scenes of us helping out people that were set up and then they let us go about trying to get reactions from people in the mall. I call this phase ‘scaring the shit out of people’. We are skipping, clapping, singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs, scaring people as they come out of elevators and just being all round excessive. It was amazing fun, and come the end of the day we had our interview…. one problem however. “Ummm…. we thought you were a Canadian. We didn’t want an Australian elf…. Can you do a Canadian accent?’ And so I gave it my best…. The shoot wrapped and I didn’t hear anything else much of it until about a month later when I am working handing out samples of Almond Milk at the womens show and I ran into one of the producers who had gotten the video sent to her the day before and she showed me. I was hysterical. I had no idea how good it was going to be or what it was going to be like, but this wound up to be the final product….

Spot The Edo Elf Commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4RhYvVBtD8 


After going up on youtube, my friends thought this hilarious. People would play it, laugh at it, and play it again. It got to the point where that jingle song at the start of the clip became the sound track to my life I heard it so often.

About another week later I was working another promotion with a giant penguin at the airport when it happened. I found my first Edo Japan store since the photos got used in store. It was really strange and surreal at the same time. I kept staring at the jangly mobile thing on the ceiling as the workers stared at me and I said to them ‘That is me!’ and they said ‘No, it isn’t! It looks nothing like you!’ and so it continued. My first real trip into a proper store though was with Lisa and I was crazy. There were stickers of me on tables, trash cans, windows… it was mental! I did not imagine when I answered the email the magnitude of this campaign. I took cheesy pictures inside and even Elfed myself in Marco’s cardboard cut out 🙂


After this I got to do some of the street promotions. We spent another morning filming a segment for a news program to promote Edo Japan giving donations from their gift cards to the food bank over Christmas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ8oNsuXJfw


And then it began. The wonders of Stephen Avenue…. Stephen Avenue is full of the weird and wonderful. Marco and I all elfed up met a leprechaun, a man who told us he works for the Massad, a UPS guy who’s trolley we looked after, friends that came to point and laugh at us, and a whole array of homeless people or people who kept asking us what we were giving away for free and then told us to piss off when we said ‘help’. It was hilarious.


After a shift as the Edo Elf one afternoon I went to pick up my friend Lucas in the hospital after his surgery and he had been showing people the video when I roll in with my stick and sack full of costume. I got to meet and talk with some lovely people in the hospital and help to cheer them up. It was really nice to be able to give a gift card to some parents to go and have dinner courtesy of Edo Japan while they waited for their daughter to sleep in recovery. It was a super humbling job to help people doing things, but I have also discovered how little people like help these days. They always assume that you want something back in return for doing something nice, and maybe we as people can learn to give without expectation, but also how to be gracious in receiving.

Elfing people in the carpark by paying their parking meter fees!

Post this they gave me a whole bunch of stickers that I used to Elf people with around the hostel. I even tried to elf my friend while he was sleeping by putting stickers on his face. All around it was probably one of the funniest promotions jobs that I have had the pleasure of being a part of  and the best part is, nobody recognizes me or believes that is me! (Especially with the Canadian accent :P)

Woman vs Wild meets Murphy’s 1st Law – Dano vs Algonquin Provincial Park

Murphy’s 1st Law: “What can go wrong, will go wrong”.

Well I have to say that it appears that lately all good ideas start in Walmart…. sadly they also seem to end in Walmart. The original idea was to go there for cheap cereal and a $15 brie cheese wheel (850 grams, hell yeah, what a bargain!) Somehow, this wound up in the sporting isle staring up at a box on the top shelf containing the ‘Seahawk 2’, an ingenious vessel that was not only on sale for cheaper than you can hire a canoe for the weekend, but was destined to take us into the far reaches of the Algonquin Provincial Parks canoe routes for ‘the best and most adventurous weekend ever’. Or so we think……

Day one it starts hammering down with rain in the afternoon. So much for getting there early to set up, you can barely see the road in front of you trying to drive there and as such, we were delayed getting there until at least 8pm, just in time to set up right before dark.

So far, Nature 1, Woman 0.

Given that we were so late getting there, we did encounter some pretty spectacular things on the side of the road on the way. One of which was a turtle who had hiked his way up the side of the river bed and was starting to dig a hole in the sand in which to lay eggs. In the grand scheme of all things turtle/tortoise, he was named ‘Curtis the Turtoise’ (despite being a ‘she’ – as far as I am concerned, they are all named Curtis…. Jamie Lee Curtis is a girl…. anyway) and Curtis was just adorable.

“Curtis the Turtise 1, burying eggs in the sand”

We almost ran over another Curtis in the middle of the road. We literally scared the piss out of this little guy. He urinated the entire way off the road as we chased him away from the ‘squash zone’ and down the hill into friendlier territory.

Scared pissless – Curtis 2 crossing the road

After the Curtis hunt, we arrived at the park gate and tried to pick a campsites for the two nights we would be there. First night, easy. Second night on the paddling trip, we were like “yeah, we’re fit, we can row a blow up boat 10km down the stream to the Opulescent site out of the Barron Canyon! No problem!” It was the next day that this again proved to be a little optimistic, and the real ‘fun’ began.

Day Two of Dano vs Wild. We get up, pack the tent and all of the equipment we need into the blow up boat. It is at this point that things start to look dubious. To be honest, I don’t know how the hell we even decided that two people and a whole stack of food and camping gear for a night would fit comfortably in a blow up boat. Nonetheless, this is the outcome.

Covered under piles of gear in the boat. Cannot steer….

And after rowing no more than 2km down the way before realizing that not only is trying to row 10km in a Walmart blow up nearly impossible, but it is downright impossible when you have to portage through a stream of jagged rocks. In a kayak this would be possible. In a blow up Walmart boat, it is most certainly not. One may say this left me some what deflated…..

Reflecting on poor life choices….

Nature 2, Woman 0.

And so it was decided that the night would be spent at the last spot along the river before the rapids started and we dragged the boat up and set up home. The campsite was really awesome, very pretty and everything was set up fine and dandy. Then the dusk sets in and this is where woman vs nature really begins.

Let me firstly address the insects. Not only did I have Australian grade 40% DEET bug spray on me, but this seemed to no avail for some of these bitches. Whether it is the deer fly, the spiders or whatever supernatural mosquitoes, I managed to wind up with two golf ball sized swollen bites behind my ear and on the back of my neck, and one tennis ball sized swollen lump with two red fang marks in the side of my body.

Super venom kicking my arse… serious welting

Nature 3, Woman 0. 

And so then it starts getting on the dark side of life which then poses the question, what to do with the food and the scraps. It is bear country and I don’t particularly want to become bear food. So we took the tow line off the boat and tied a rock to one end in the hope of putting it over a tree to tie the food up. Then this happened……

The tow line of the boat stuck in a tree with a rock on the end of it….

Nature 4, Woman 0. 

I am pretty sure that by this stage Murphy is out there somewhere laughing his arse off. I sure was. For those of you whose eyes aren’t good enough to see, that is our rope stuck in the tree with the rock on the end of it. Which now poses the problem of what it is we are actually going to do with the food so that the animals and the bears don’t get it. So I come up with this amazingly inventive idea of burying the food and rubbish under a pile of very heavy rocks, which we finished building right as it got dark.

Can’t see our food? Awesome… totally hidden from bears and other animals…

The hope here was that there would be breakfast for tomorrow morning. But just in case a bear came, not that it would really have done anything much at all, we were equipped with bear fighting tools, ie. 1 big stick to poke him with, one biggish rock with which to throw at him, and one giant set of lungs with which to scream and yell and then run for your goddamn life.

Bear fighting tools

The sticks came courtesy of a beaver dam that had washed its way down the shore and this had landed just down the way from where we were camping. It made excellent firewood and so we burned this to stay warm despite the at times torrential downpour that we thought would hinder the process of making a fire whatsoever.


Nature 4, Woman 1.

And so it was time for bed. In the morning when waking up it was kinda like Christmas. Time to go and unwrap your rock wrapped presents to see if you can have breakfast this morning and much to my happiness, I found that despite the minor bite marks of the chippies through the rock crevasses, that food and garbage was all still intact and I got to eat my beef stew ration, chocolate milkshake and chocolate pudding desert for breakfast.

Yes! Still have food! Despite the tiny hole from the chippies

 

Nature 4, Woman 2. 

By this stage, despite Nature still having the upper hand in the situation, I felt like I was winning. How can you not be winning when you have food? So after a quick pack up it was back in the blow up boat and see you later to our home of a night as we let the current pretty much drift us half of the way back to the Achray lake entrance. It was a nice, workless float 🙂

Home on the hill

Nature 4, Woman 3.

So we made it back finally in our blow up boat, vowing never, ever again to attempt such a stupid thing in a blow up Walmart boat but to be non-stingy and invest in hiring a canoe next time. I also vouch to bring ten million cans of permethrin to kill any living insect (I am a nature lover, can’t you tell), and to also wear sunscreen on the way home in the boat. Nature had the last laugh you see by giving me sunburned thighs in retribution for my lack of paddling efforts on the way home. Not only that, but when I got home and took an antihistamine to make all my swollen bites go down, and all this achieved was in sending me into a drug-induced coma in which all I could mutter was ‘huh, whaaa, waaateerrr’. So in the end I think the final count was Nature 6, Woman 3. And despite Nature and Murphy having the last laugh, I was still also laughing because if you don’t laugh you cry right? That and the whole thing was just outright funny. I can say for sure though, I most likely haven’t learned my lesson, and that at some point in time, most probably in the near future, I will again embark on yet another bout of ‘YEAH!! That sounds like an AWESOME idea!” And if the past is anything to go by, it will be yet another hilarious disaster.

Til then x

 

Being A Human Guinea Pig

As promised from the previous article “Five Different Ways To Challenge Yourself Daily”, my experiences with the medical testing world.

So when work keeps telling you consistently ‘sorry there are just no hours this week’ (which to be honest is a crock of shit, but we are trying to keep this light and the topic of workplace rights and legislation in Canada makes me very angry), we resort to the only thing we know for more work…. Craigslist.

There is a marvel of things you can find in the ‘ETC.’ section of the Toronto Craigslist and so this is how my run as a human guinea pig began. ‘Oh you will pay me a couple of hundred dollars to do a PET scan and and MRI? No problem! You want to pay me to stick electrodes to my head and play me pulses to see how my brain responds? No problem! And so it goes on.

To clarify, there are specific types of testing that I am not willing to do. For one, I am not happy about being a guinea pig for drug trials. I don’t particularly feel that my ovaries or the rest of my body would be appreciative of me pumping it full something in it that is going to render my parts dysfunctional for a measly couple of hundred bucks. But if you want to look at how my body functions normally by doing a series of tests, then be my guest. As a scientist, I am more than happy to do my part for science.

So, here we go….

The other day I went to the geriatrics hospital. They do a lot of research for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain disorders and I have done multiple experiments for them. Of the most basic is the EEG, which is where you go in, they strap electrodes to your brain, put some earplugs in and they make you listen to semitone sounds on ‘ooh’ or ‘ahh’ and make you hit buttons to tell you if it is an ‘ooh’ or an ‘aah’. The best part about this is the second part where they make you listen to random sounds for an hour while you watch a kids movie on silent. For me it was a crazy movie about a raccoon that steals and destroys a bears stash of food for the winter and then sets about manipulating other animals into reacquiring what it is that he lost by stealing from the humans. Awesomely funny, even if it is on mute with subtitles. I did this twice before I started getting called in for different tests.

Other EEG tasks I have done have been musical tests where I listen to two sounds and decide if they are the same or different and then replicate the sounds singing later. I have also done tests where they give you 35 sets of 2 completely unrelated words and you have to try and develop a correlation between them in five seconds so that later when they flash you the first word, you have to remember the second word. Hugely frustrating as this is most difficult of the tasks I had ever been given. One time I also had to sit with an eye movement tracker on while I watched a series of video clips and pictures to see where I was looking at on the screen.

EEG
Smashing out some memory games with the electrode cap on

Two days ago they did a test on my memory and how the brain stores information. They sat me at a computer and they would flash a word at me like ‘giraffe’. I would then as quickly as possible determine whether it is living or non living using the buttons strapped to my fingers. From there I had to do this really quick mathematical addition in my head with numbers flashing up on the screen at me and then decide whether the number they showed me at the end was the correct answer to the addition. From there, you then have to recall the word. They do all of this while you are strapped into an MRI machine measuring the different activities of your brain in doing the sums and the recall. The hypothesis that they are testing is whether or not the long term memory is more effective when you focus more on the word that you have to remember or when you are busy with a distractor task, ie. the maths sums. Strangely enough, they have been finding that the words that you do the distractor task with are more likely to be remembered long term as the way that these words are processed in the brain is different. Really interesting study. Probably why I did so well at university studying with the TV on, the radio on, talking on the phone and trying to read at the same time! Me being as competitive as I am too, I had to try and beat my own scores and the scores of others with the decision making and the maths. I was killing it to a point. 85-90% 🙂 Not bad when the average is around 60-70% for the maths! Looks like all of the learning books and the brain training games are paying off!

1016 axial
MRI scan of my brain. I told people I have one, they didn’t believe me

Of the most lucrative and probably most uncomfortable of the medical tests that I have done was the PET scan. After doing a two hour screening of different IQ type tests with shapes and logic and a psychological evaluation, they sent me off to do the scan. They put me in a hospital gown, laid me onto the table and then started to put in the arterial line in my left wrist. Luckily they hit it the first time so it wasn’t too bad in the healing process. They put the radiotracer into my right arm and then I pretty much laid in the machine for 2 hours while they scanned my brain to see where the radiotracer was collecting and if it was more concentrated in specific areas of the brain or not for a specific enzyme that they are attributing to swelling in the brain that is related to depression.

They took different blood samples from my wrist throughout the experiment to look at the concentration of the radiotracer in my blood and I have to say it wasn’t the most comfortable of situations. What I didn’t realize was that they actually put a plaster cast thing over your face to lock it into place for the scan so that your head doesn’t move. So here I am, head locked in in a plaster cast, needles sticking out of my arms, the most ADHD I have ever been and all I wanted to do was go for a dance or move around or do something! The two hours were finally up, I had my arterial line out, went for a 20 minute MRI and took my cash for the day. More money than I would have earned in the space of a week and a half working for minimum wage in Toronto on half a day of being a guinea pig for the advancement of science. I will most certainly take that.

I do find all of these things quite interesting so in the grand scheme of travelling, it is something new and different to add to the resume and it pays quite well. And hey, it is just another thing to tell the grandkids right? Provided that my memory holds out in the long run. Hopefully my participation in research will help them find ways to overcome memory degeneration with age so that I can continue to achieve my million and one goals. And so I won’t have to be a drunk nana in a nursing home rocking chair on the porch enjoying the blissful ignorance of my existence.

 

5 Different Ways to Challenge Yourself Daily

“There is nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in man” – Sean Connery.

Most people reading this aren’t off in the grand world traveling and constantly having different challenges thrown at them everyday like I usually do. And I currently am not off gallivanting around the world with all the wonder that change and the road offers right now myself. But there are different things that I do at least one of everyday to challenge myself and keep the stagnant at bay! Try to incorporating these small things into your everyday lives to challenge you, keep the boredom at bay and help you feel great!

Experiment With New Food

One of the biggest things that I miss from the road is all of the incredible food that is on offer. That said, I came back from Europe with a huge list of foods I had eaten that I wanted to try and replicate at home. While some of these have been a disaster, I have managed to stumble on some amazing recipes for different foods such as Hungarian Paprika Chicken, Spanish Tortilla, Polish Bigos….. and so the list goes on. So I encourage you as a part of your daily challenge to once a week, pick a country, find a recipe for something you haven’t tried before and cook it. That simple! If you aren’t too much of a fan of different world foods, maybe try a new cook book or a different recipe for something you already cook. Variety is the spice of life! So start your week by challenging your taste buds and cooking skills!

Michele Poland 1
Trying my hand at beetroot soup in Poland.

Do A Puzzle

Everybody has heard of the saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. And so this is true of the neural connections in your brain. Scientists have discovered that when you are a small child, in the first five years you develop billions of neural connections that are designed to function for the rest of your life so that you are able to perform different tasks. Many of these neural connections will sever with age if you do not continue to stimulate these pathways as the brain attempts to conserve energy. Never fear though, with brain training and neuroplasticity, we can continue to stimulate our neural pathways, sometimes making new neural connections with the right kind of training. This is important, especially as we get older to ward off brain diseases such as Alzheimers’ and dementia. When I was living in Toronto, I used to go to The Centre for Brain Health at one of the hospitals and they used to pay me a little bit of money to do puzzles and other activities whilst wearing either an electrode cap to measure my brain waves or being on and MRI machine to detect the highest functioning areas of the brain whilst doing particular tasks. Some of the information they gained about memory, brain function and degeneration was incredible and I will write another post about my experiences with this at a later date (so follow me if you want a notification!)

Doing a puzzle or two a day will help to keep you sharp. The key to choosing your puzzles though is to choose different ones. Right now I have a small crossword puzzle book and I do a crossword each night before bed. These are great for stimulating recall pathways and associations. I also bought an IQ test book on the road with hundreds of different types of puzzles to challenge spatial awareness, mathematical skills, language skills, memory and logic. There are many different programs that you can find on the internet that help stimulate brain growth and neuroplasticity as well so get jump on them. Just don’t fall into the age old trap of doing sudoku after sudoku after sudoku. Once you have learned the techniques required for solving a sudoku, it no longer poses an adequate enough challenge to keep the brain growing. So keep it mixed up. Do different types of puzzles and crosswords to keep you thinking.

Exercise

Many people go to the gym and fall into the same standard routine of exercise every day they go. Exercise is about betterment of the self. And to get better, you need to set small goals and slowly work your way towards achieving them. Currently I do Crossfit, a constant daily challenge with yourself to be stronger, faster and fitter. The people I train with are super supportive and we will often compete against each other in a friendly way to help push each other to be better. It helps when you have a partner to train with. So if you train on your own, maybe try starting up a conversation with someone you see all the time at they gym and ask the train with them. They will keep you honest and make you work harder.

My current challenge is to get to be doing strict pull ups with my own body weight by the end of the year. In February when I started I was using twice as much resistance as I am using now, so I am working towards achieving that goal, slowly but surely. Everyday though is a small challenge within the larger challenge. Today I do one or two more reps than I did yesterday. I try stringing more together at once than I did yesterday. Eventually it gets easier, and you can move to the next small step within the push towards the greater goal.

Danni Tas 1
Lifting like a boss. Crossfit 14.5 Open Workout

Start up a conversation with a stranger

It is easy in this technology-driven world that we live in to get caught up with what is online and not what is in front of you. I challenge you every day to look up and put the phone away. When you go into a coffee shop and order your morning coffee, instead of texting/checking emails/standing around not speaking and waiting, start up a conversation with your barista or another person in the queue.  Ask them how their day is going and make a joke. Pay them a compliment. Trust me when I say that you will feel better about yourself and your day for having made a small effort to strike up a new conversation. That person will also most likely feel better about themselves if you can make the simple effort of saying something to make them smile. Who knows, with time you may even end up with a new friend. And it will certainly help you develop some awesome conversational skills.

Do A Kind Deed

We have covered challenges that are good for the body and good for the mind. It is also great to incorporate challenges for the soul. No matter how small or how insignificant it might seem to you, try and do at least one kind deed per day. This could be something as small as helping somebody pick up something that they have dropped on the ground. I am a grand believer in the idea of paying it forward. Over the years I have met many amazing people that have bestowed incredible generosity and kindness upon me during my travels and in life in general. I am so grateful for the amazing help and support that I have received that I feel it my duty as a human to pay this amazing kindness forward. Whilst I was walking the Overland Track, a six day, 90km hike in Tasmania, I met two guys who were transiting back through my home town. So I went out for dinner with them, showed them to a local pub with original music for the night and in the morning I picked them up and drove them around to see some of the sights before I dropped them off at the airport. Something I have had others that I barely know do for me and I have appreciated it hugely. That and I also find great enjoyment in meeting new people and helping them to enjoy my hometown. While your daily kindness doesn’t have to be of such a magnitude, every kind deed regardless of size is important.

I honestly believe that if people work towards being kinder to one another and towards being more grateful for the things they have in this life, then the human race together will be working towards being a better species. And it starts with you! So help someone. Make them smile. And then hope they too will pay it forward.

So venture forward into your week! Do something out of the ordinary, cook something new, do a puzzle, help a stranger and have a chat to them and push yourself when you exercise to be better. Be a better version of yourself! I challenge you….. 

The Overland Track Part Two – Mount Ossa, The Top of Tassie

So I had to Google Mount Ossa and what it actually looks like later when I had gotten home because it was so overcast and cloudy that I could barely see most of it on the day we decided to climb it….. I didn’t know where the summit was, I had no idea where I was going. All I knew, was that I WAS GOING……

Mount Ossa on a clear day. Source http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Mount_Ossa_Tasmania.jpg

Day Four

Day four started with me spending half an hour strapping my feet with bandaids and sports tape to try and protect them, a feat which I later discovered was futile. It was a two hour journey from the Pelion Hut up to the Pelion Gap. From here you can do two side trips. You can chose the path to the left which leads you up to the top of the stick pile on the hill that is Mount Pelion East, or you can choose to be bad ass and take the path on the right which leads to the summit of the tallest peak in Tasmania, Mount Ossa, standing at 1617m…. despite not being able to see it.

Overland Track 193
Mount Ossa somewhere in there…. obscured by quite a lot of low level cloud

So in the grand tradition of ‘don’t think, just do’, we took the path to the right. Firstly though, we had to cover our packs. Warning signs had been placed on the trails warning of the cunning currawongs, these glorious black birds that have evolved to learn how to undo zips on bags and go through all of your stuff. I put my pack cover over the top of my bag, put my bag down and started on my way.

Overland Track 095
Cheeky Bird Warning

Not being able to see what it is that you are climbing exactly makes things a little ambiguous. At first I thought we were going up Mount Doris. But then I realized that it was not high enough and going to be too easy, so around the side of Mount Doris we went and there we were, at the foot of Mount Ossa, ready to go.

Overland Track 199
Round The Side Of Mount Doris

About half way up, we started to encounter the snow and the low level cloud to the point where it became difficult to see anything more than the footprints in the snow in front of you, more snow and some rocks sticking out of it. The wind started roaring and it became difficult to climb. At one point I thought to myself, “I can’t do this. It is too dangerous. It is too windy. I can’t get up this channel that the wind is just beating down in”. Some of the girls we had been staying with in the hut came around the corner at the top and told us that the wind is not bad on the other side and all we had to do was to make it to the top of the narrow and windy alley. So we persisted. Slowly. Carefully. And eventually rounded the top of the wind tunnel into the haven of the wind-free other side of the mountain.

Overland Track 214
On the face heading towards the central channel. The infamous wind tunnel….

From here it was another half an hour of walking. As the days had progressed we had laughed about ‘going deep’, a term that we used every time somebody stepped into a puddle so deep that the muddy water seeped over the top of your boot and down into your shoes. This half an hour of walking took the term ‘going deep’ to a completely new level. At times the footing was so unstable you would find yourself ass deep in snow with your feet stuck and you would literally have to climb your way out.

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“Going Deep”

At some point, the footprints in the snow stopped. And after consultation with the GPS, we realized that we were indeed at the top. 1617m, and the top of Tasmania. The boys took part in customary underpants photos and we started our way back down the hill.

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At The Summit of Mount Ossa, 1617m

Given the downward momentum and that it was pretty hairy trying to walk down for fear of ‘going deep’ it was easier for the most part to slide down the snow on your butt trying to avoid rocks. It was actually really fun and in some places you could work up a bit of speed. We rounded the bend into the giant wind tunnel again, managed to get down safely and continued back down the hill.

An hour later, the rest of the world appeared out of the bottom of the clouds and the surreal feeling of being in the snow in a white out disappeared. It was back to business as usual, back to the packs, and back on the trail to get to the next hut, the Kia Ora hut.

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The world reappearing from the under the bottom of a cloud

Only one thing was problematic….. those cheeky Currawongs! They had managed to evolve further to chewing through elastic to remove my pack cover, open my top zip, disperse my phone, wallet, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and anything else they could get their grubby beaks on all over the platform. Despite not being the only one who had their pack broken into for the day (it happened to about five people), I would never hear the end of it. “Forget being smarter than a fifth grader, because you aren’t smarter than a bird”.

Stay tuned for the final installment of the Overland Track……