I cannot believe they went ahead without me. I know the Golden Rule of Bushwalking:
“The group can only go as fast as the slowest walker.”
I was the slowest walker, and they’d left me behind.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
All too late, I realised an over 40’s bushwalking group was not for me. These people were fanatics out to seize any opportunity to improve their cardiovascular fitness; any chance to have a race against each other; to play a game to see who could get to the finish line first.
I’d struggled all day. From the moment we’d entered the track at 9:30 am, I’d fought to keep up and the members of the group seemed to be oblivious to my struggles. They’d stop for a break, take a drink and eat a snack, and be recovered before I arrived at the marker. As I’d go to sit down, suddenly they’d spring back into action leaving me to once again quicken my pace to try to keep up.
They’d taken an activity I enjoyed and ruined it, twisting it and turning it into something it was never meant to be.
Sadly, I realised, they’d forgotten the golden rule of bushwalking.
I’d had my chance to catch my breath over lunch. A mere 20 minutes sitting in the dirt, eating a sandwich and trying not to show how upset I was to be mocked for being so slow.
But lunch had been two hours ago and now adding to my exhaustion was the rain, increasing the weight of everything. Me, my backpack, my shoes. And we had commenced the climb out of the ravine. A segment of the walk that I had been dreading all day.
Trudging along, gasping for breath that seem to move just beyond my reach, I knew I couldn’t keep going. I’d lost sight of the walker in front of me ages ago and my husband had said he would go on ahead to ask the leader to slow down.
The tail-ender, the ‘senior’ walker assigned to the end of the group, wasn’t impressed with the slow pace I was setting. I could tell he was becoming impatient with me and now he seemed furious that I’d stopped moving altogether.
I barely heard him snap “Stay here!” as he trotted off seeking the rest of the group. My husband was somewhere ahead, up over the top of the hill, and I was here, alone, unable to maintain the gruelling pace up the incline.
Salty tears added to the water stinging my eyes.
It hurt to admit that I’d lost something at the bottom of the ravine. I patted my pocket. At least it wasn’t my glasses I’d lost, but I reminded myself to buy a waterproof hat for next time. Wearing wet glasses was worse than wearing no glasses at all.
No, I hadn’t lost my glasses, but I had lost something. A spark? A desire? Something I had carried with me at the beginning of the day was no longer there and suddenly, sadly, I thought why bother buying a waterproof hat?
There wasn’t going to be a next time. I just wanted to get back to the car, go home to a nice hot bath, and never bother going bushwalking ever again.
Fat drops of water began splashing everywhere and I became mesmerised watching a trickle of water as it sped past and grew with ferocity, running across the top of my shoes and seeking an entry, a gap to squeeze through and make my feet cold as well as wet.
As the water succeed it snapped me out of my trance and I realised I’d been sitting there too long. My raincoat wasn’t working and I was wet and shivering.
Where was everyone? Why hadn’t they come back for me?
As I stood up and looked around, panic set in. I couldn’t see the path ahead.