I considered this would be the first and last bushwalk I would undertake with a group of walkers.
Their approach, or more accurately, their attitude, was not for me. I only hoped I would still want to go bushwalking with my husband, but firstly, I had to get out of the mess I was in.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
Staring at the sign, my heart sank. “Car park via the Giant Stairs”. I’d read something about the Giant Stairs and knew there were lots of them. Nine hundred the next sign told me and with a heavy heart, and an equally heavy sigh, I began the climb out of the ravine, one giant step at a time.
Even though I’d struggled with the gradient of the other track, it was preferable to climbing these stairs. I could only manage 20 before I had to stop and steady my breathing. Gulping buckets of air, I dared not to think of what my heart rate was, but I’d allow it to slow before moving on.
Who in their right mind wants to climb these steps? Especially after bushwalking for five hours beforehand? Avoiding the steps was probably the only considerate decision made by the group leader all day.
I soon discovered the Giant Steps were several series of steps and not a never-ending stationary escalator straight up, as I had imagined they were.
Some steps were made of stone and before long my feet grew heavy and matched the steps in size and stature. I struggled to lift one foot after the other, and could feel my heart trying to escape my chest.
Other steps were metal with hand rails that allowed me to pull myself up as I raised my feet one after the other. At times there were no steps at all, just a steep inclined path, broken by man-made causeways built to divert water away from the track.
Sometimes the steps lead past huge boulders, cool walls for me to lean on, and twisted into and out of dark places I feared to enter. But my fear of remaining in the ravine was greater, so I kept going, stopping to force my breathing to slow, allowing my heart rate to steady, and then I’d move on.
Approaching the entrance of one dingy area, I thought I heard my name being spoken. “Clare” Ever so softly and gentle, barely audible.
I told myself I was imagining things, but then I heard it again, a little louder this time. “Clare”. Once again, tears stung my eyes as I recognised my husband’s voice. “Clare, where are you?”.
“I’m here.” I sobbed and almost stumbled quicken my pace, rushing to pass the boulders and emerge through to the other side. Dean called out again. “Can you hear me? Where are you?”
And there he was, racing towards me, hurtling down a group of steps to reach where I was standing. He wrapped me in a hug of love and comfort that only comes from years of familiarity. “I was so worried” he said. “Thank goodness you’re ok.”
I buried my head in his chest and my tears became those of relief. “It’s ok” he said. “I’m here now.”
We stood there like that long enough that I felt my energy revive. Perhaps I was stealing some of his, I don’t know, but before long, or sooner or later, I’m not sure which, Dean said “Let’s get out of here.”
Although I had not made great progress up those Giant Stairs, the rest of the climb was all the easier because I was not alone.
I had my husband at my side.