How to keep exercising outdoors in the drought

“How CAN you keep exercising outdoors in the drought????”

I’m writing this blog post because over the past year lots of people have said they just don’t know how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. We typically think of nature as nurturing and health-giving, a place of solace and retreat. Being confronted by a shockingly dry environment with frequent bushfires, brown landscapes that used to be green, National Park closures, and dry waterways, it’s clear that nature has a shadow side as well.

flowers before the drought

“It’s REALLY tough!”

To be completely open, I’ve also questioned how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. The whole climatic situation has been tough. Really tough! The ripple effect of the drought has swept up farmers, wildlife, local businesses, ‘town’ people, and those in the cities. We’re all affected in various ways either directly or indirectly. There’s a pervasive and damaging sense of hopelessness, and like any emotion, it’s contagious. Yet a sense of hope is exactly what we need to survive difficult or traumatic situations. Where there’s hope, there’s life. Without it, we spiral into a self-fulfilling doom and gloom mentality.

Exercising outdoors has been very confronting. I can’t walk on my home trails without seeing or smelling death. The brown dust colours my view as if I’m looking through a sepia filter. Ticks are in plague proportions. Swarms of good ole slow country flies are driving me nuts. The heat is unbearable. And there’s not enough water for washing your hair after a workout.

My stress tank is overflowing! How about you?

My connection with nature runs very deep, as does my yearning to be active. But in this tough time, I also came down with shingles. My stress tank began to overflow. I had to do something differently. Bushwalking and bike riding whilst constantly thinking about the drought and feeling unwell was contributing to the stress.

So what CAN you do when being in nature is SO stressful?

You have to put your creative thinking hat on to find a solution when things get tough. What worked before is no longer effective. The questions people keep asking me (and that I wanted solutions for too) are:

  • How can I reconnect with the side of nature that heals and nurtures and teaches?
  • How can I enjoy my time outdoors without feeling overwhelmed?
  • What mindset shift do I need?
  • What actions do I need to take?
  • How can I keep exercising everyday?
exercising in the drought
Exercising in the drought has it’s challenges

So I set you to explore this new territory and experiment with the possibilities!

Here are 6 solutions that I’ve discovered. I hope they work for you too!

1. Podcasts

If you haven’t got on the bandwagon yet, then you really need to! Podcasts are audio shows, a bit like a radio show, that you can either stream from the Internet or download onto a device to listen to later. I download episodes from my favourite shows onto my phone, plug my ear phones in, and listen to inspiring, energising interviews while I walk. Instead of focusing my attention on my surroundings, I lose myself in the show and arrive back home with excitement for life and new ideas to put into action. Watch out for a future blog post about my favourite podcasts suitable for Android or Apple.

2. Set an Intention

Before heading out on a walk or ride, I often choose an intention – something I want to focus on or get out of my experience. This is a personal choice, so it can be anything at all. Some of the intentions I’ve set for myself go like this:
“Today I will notice new growth”
“Today I will focus on the sensations in my legs”
“Today I will find fun”
“Today I will discover colour”
“Today I will notice sounds”

3. Mindful Walking

With mindful walks I like to focus on one sense at a time and when I notice my mind has wandered away from my body, I gently bring it back to rest on my senses. I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on my sense of hearing – noticing the many different bird calls, the sounds of the breeze in the trees, my footsteps on the ground, insects buzzing around, wallabies bounding along. I usually focus on one sense for a few minutes, then move onto another one. With my sense of touch, I focus on how it feels to have clothes on my skin, feet in my shoes as I take a step, muscle movement, sunscreen on my face, leaves brushing my skin. When I focus on my sense of sight, I challenge myself to find colours and light and patterns that I don’t normally notice. You can also use a meditation app with a guided practice for mindfulness of walking.

4. Photography

I’ve discovered that taking photos along the way really helps me to bring my attention to the beautiful things. Sometimes I combine photography with an intention or a mindful walk so that I can collect images that bring me joy, and at the same time it helps my brain to collect evidence that there is hope.

5. Make it Social

Walking or riding with other people can be really helpful because the focus is on that invisible connection between myself and someone else. Give me a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend any day, plenty of laughs, a chance to debrief the stuff of life that drives me crazy, and to celebrate the rest. Sometimes, too, there’s a sneaky competitive edge that sees me running or riding faster when I’m with others. Inevitably that ends up in a heap of laughs too, gasping for air, heart pounding out of my chest, and the satisfaction that I’ve done my weekly interval training.

6. Mix it up

I’ve always said “I’m not a gym person”. I’ve built a business and identity around my outdoor adventures. BUT, being unwell and being in the drought has helped me re-set my rigid thinking about exercise. Instead of going outdoors everyday, I went to an aqua class with a friend, did loops of the river walk in town where it’s a bit greener, and took up an irresistible offer to join a gym. I’ve extended the variety of exercise I get which is a fantastic thing! It will help me enjoy and have greater success with my outdoor adventuring which I’m still doing at least a couple of times a week. Going to the gym also gets me focusing on my sadly neglected strength training (one of those things I really ‘should’ be doing at my age!), all whilst staying out of the flies and heat. I get to make new friends and pace myself sensibly (sort of) as I recuperate. At home I’ve also begun a more regular yoga practice – something I’ve been wanting to do but it’s been a lower priority until now.

To Sum Up: Choose Your Focus!

It’s really all about CHOOSING WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. When we feel like we have What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?no control or influence over a situation (like the drought), it’s important to push the pause button, think about it creatively, and choose your focus. Like many people, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors in the drought. The ideas I’ve shared in this article have made a huge difference to me, my mental state and my physical health. My hope is that they help you too.

Let me know what works for you! Have you got some other ideas to share with our readers?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Bushwalking in Goomburra, Main Range National Park

Regardless of your level of fitness there are plenty of options for bushwalking in the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park on the Southern Downs. As with many National Parks, it is a privilege to be able to share in the natural wonders and history of the area. There are varying stories about the meaning of the word “Goomburra” taken from the local Aboriginal language. The European history of the Darling Downs area relates to transport routes between the east and west, the logging industry, and frequently violent conflict with the Traditional Custodians of the land.

About Main Range National Park

Main Range National Park covers over 30 000 hectares in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area in south east Queensland. With an amazing diversity of plants and animals and unique terrain, Main Range is a popular place for people to picnic, bushwalk, camp and venture into the more remote areas of the Park.

Main Range National Park is divided into 3 sections including Queens Mary Falls, Cunningham’s Gap, and Goomburra. Let’s take a closer look at the Goomburra section. 

Are you new to bushwalking? Read some tips and hints on how to get started bushwalking.

Goomburra Section

bushwalking Goomburra 3
Explore the wide variety of habitats when you go bushwalking in Goomburra

The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park is about 170kms south west of Brisbane by road or about 55kms north east of Warwick. The Park offers spectacular scenery with rugged mountains, scenic lookouts, open dry forest, and rainforest. The Park habitats provide shelter to a variety of Australian flora and fauna including some endangered species.

Accommodation

Camp sites with composting toilets are provided in this section of the Park, and other private camp grounds and accommodation options are located nearby.

Access

Hidden away from the highway, access to the Goomburra section of the Park is along Inverramsay Road. Travelling along here reminds you of where your food comes from. The road meanders along the beautiful Goomburra Valley, home to grazing, dairying, vegetable and crop farms, as well as recreational enterprises such as 4WD parks and private campgrounds – very popular destinations for long weekends and school holidays.

The final approach to the Park is unfenced and unpaved so be aware of cattle wandering across the road. At times you may need a high clearance vehicle to navigate the unpaved sections. After rain there can be several water crossings as you enter the Park.

Kurrajong Picnic Area is on your left near the intersection with Lookout Road and a nearby information sign. Driving straight ahead you’ll discover two campgrounds with toilets and access to some of the walks from the car park where the road terminates.

Driving along Lookout Road you’ll wind your way up a narrow unpaved road which gives access to more walking tracks.

Bushwalking Tracks

There is a variety of walking tracks in the Park ranging from short and easy walks to steeper and more

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Rock pool on The Cascades track

challenging half-day walks.

Dalrymple Circuit (1.2kms return) is a Class 3 walk with interpretative signs which winds through the forest and creeks. This walk is suitable for families or anyone looking for a short walk that gives you a taste of what Goomburra has to offer.

Cascades Circuit (6.5kms return) is a Class 4 track that’s a bit longer and more challenging. Wind your way up through the rainforest crossing the creek numerous times to sit by the rocky pools at the upper reaches.

The Ridge Track (5kms return) is a Class 4 track that takes you through quite steep terrain with dry forest and rainforest. Take care on the steep fire road and walking tracks as the gravel can be quite slippery whichever direction you go.

North Branch Track (7kms return) is a Class 4 track that begins off Lookout Drive near the Kurrajong

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Lush ferns growing on the Ridge Walk track

picnic area. From the picnic area, walk to the other side of Lookout Drive and cross the creek. On your left you’ll see the start of the North Branch Track which takes you through mostly dry open forest until it reaches the edge of the rainforest which is a perfect spot to rest and have a snack before returning the same way you came.

Araucaria Falls (3.6kms return) is a Class 4 track that takes you through rainforest to the base of the falls. Access to this walk is along Lookout Road.

Sylvesters Lookout (940m return) is a short and beautiful Class 3 track that can be accessed from Lookout Road. The walk takes you to a spectacular lookout.

Mount Castle Lookout (960m return) is another short, beautiful Class 3 track that can be accessed from Lookout Road. Walk through rainforest and be rewarded with amazing views below.

Winder Track (12 kms return) is a Class 4 track that goes out-and-back from the end of Lookout Road. This track is vehicle-width leading you through the forest to ‘the winder’ which was used in the bygone days of logging and timber cutting in the area. Although listed as a Class 4 track, the walk undulates fairly gently and does not generally have much in the way of obstacles. At the start of the walk keep an eye open on your right for views across the valley.

The art of not-bushwalking

If you’re not feeling up to the challenge of bushwalking in Goomburra, or maybe you have young children to care for, simply have a wander or a quiet sit-down in the campgrounds or picnic area. There’s always so much to see right on the edge of the forest, with birds flitting in and out, echidnas, wallabies and kangaroos, reptiles, and frogs and other water-based creatures along the creek. Take a book or some binoculars or a pack of cards and enjoy the peaceful surrounds as you reconnect with the natural world around you.

Things to watch out for

There are the usual things to watch out for whilst bushwalking in Goomburra including snakes, ticks, leeches, flies and mosquitoes. You may also see some stinging trees depending where you walk, so be careful not to touch these. Check the parks site for ‘alerts’ of bushfires and park closures. As always the recommendation is to be prepared with first aid knowledge, a snake bandage, sun and insect protection, wear long sleeves and trousers, slip on a hat, and take plenty of water with you as it can be quite hot and humid on the walks. Let someone else know where you are planning to go and let them know when you’ve returned so they don’t unnecessarily send out a search party. Mobile service is very poor throughout the area.     

It’s time to stop dreaming and start bushwalking in Goomburra!

bushwalkingSo….. enough reading and dreaming about it! It’s time to get organised and get out there for real!

WHICH TRACK WILL YOU BE BUSHWALKING IN GOOMBURRA?

Walking Track Classifications

This article refers to the Australian Standard for classifying the level of difficulty of walking tracks. The Goomburra Section of Main Range National Park has Class 3 and 4 walking tracks which are defined below:

Class 3 Walking Tracks

  • Well-defined, distinct tracks, variable in width. Muddy sections, steep grades and steps may be encountered. Some exposed roots and rocks.
  • All junctions signposted and may include interpretive signs.
  • May be partially overgrown; hazards such as fallen trees and rockfalls may be present.
  • No formed creek crossings; cliff edges and lookouts generally not fenced; appropriate caution required.
  • Reasonable level of fitness required and ankle-supporting footwear recommended.

Class 4 Walking Tracks

  • Distinct tracks, surface likely to be rough with exposed roots and rocks.
  • All junctions signposted. Markers may be used where necessary (e.g. at creek crossings).
  • Variable in width; muddy sections, steep grades and extensive steps likely to be encountered.
  • May be overgrown; hazards such as fallen trees and rockfalls likely to be present.
  • No formed creek crossings; no fences on cliff edges or lookouts; high level of caution required.
  • Moderate fitness level and ankle-supporting footwear strongly recommended.
Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to get started bushwalking

I meet many people who would like to take themselves or their family on outdoor adventures, but they’re not sure how to get started bushwalking. In this article, I’ll outline some simple steps you can take to get started, stay safe, and have loads of fun! Keep your eyes open for a whole series of articles on places you can bushwalk across South East Queensland and beyond.

What equipment do I need to go for a bushwalk?

The basic equipment is really quite simple:bushwalking boots
  • a comfortable and sturdy pair of covered shoes
  • a drink bottle,
  • a hat, and
  • some sun protection such as sunscreen and sun-safe clothes
  • basic first aid and medical supplies for yourself or your group such as an asthma puffer and snake bandage – I slip a snake bandage into my pocket or backpack even on short walks
If you’re bushwalking in cold or alpine areas, you’ll also need:
  • warm layers of clothing eg jacket, beanie.
And if the weather is damp, you might like to have:
  • a rain coat or poncho
What else do I need to think about for longer or more challenging walks?

As you become more experienced, you might like to go on longer or more challenging bushwalks, so it’s important to have:

  • well-fitting shoes and socks suitable for the terrain and the climate
  • a small backpack that can hold all the gear you’ll need for an awesome day out – snacks, water, extra layers of clothing, raincoat, maps, emergency devices, and a camera,
  • some people like to wear gaiters to protect against snake bites and prickly plants
What about overnight hikes and camps?

If you plan on a multi-day bushwalk you’ll also need to have:bushwalking and camping

  • a well fitting backpack large enough to hold your gear, especially if you plan to be self-sufficient,
  • a shelter such as a tent,
  • food for the duration of your expedition
  • enough water plus a bit extra to get you to your next water supply – this includes water for drinking, cooking and cleaning,
  • a water purification system if you plan to collect water from untreated water supplies,
  • a sleeping mat,
  • sleeping bag,
  • toiletry items,
  • a trowel and toilet paper,
  • extra clothes to sleep in or if you want a clean set of clothes for your second day,
  • a stove and cooking equipment,
  • maps and navigation equipment such as a compass and / GPS, and
  • emergency communication equipment such as an emergency beacon, EPIRB, or GPS communication

We’ll cover equipment for overnight hikes in more detail in a future article.

How much water will I need?

The amount of water you need to take depends on lots of things including how far and how long you’ll be bushwalking as well as the temperature and humidity, whether there is drinking water available along the way, how strenuous your walk is, and how much you as an individual need to drink. A very rough guide is usually a minimum of 2 litres per day, however I’d recommend more than that especially if the weather is hot, and just in case you stay out longer than planned. If you’re planning to cook, you’ll need extra as well.

How much food should I take on a bushwalk?

If you’re going for a short walk (less than an hour), you generally won’t need to take food. bushwalking foodHowever, I think every walk is much more fun when you stop for a little picnic along the way. Choose food that won’t easily spoil or be squashed. It also pays to think about how heavy your snacks are and take a bag or container to transport your scraps back home.

Where can I go bushwalking?

Popular public walking spaces in Australia can be found in regional or council parks, state reserves and forestry, and in national parks. There also some privately owned land holdings that are open to the public. You can search the Internet for what’s available in your local area. Regional tourist information sites and centres also provide this information. Australian walking trails are often classified according to levels of difficulty from Class 1 to Class 5. This makes it easier for you to plan the right type of walk for your group.

In future articles I’ll share some of my favourite places with you.

How much does it cost to go bushwalking?

Most walking trails in Australia are free, however there are some parklands that require you to purchase a permit for vehicle entry (such as some national parks in some states). And you need to book ahead and pay an entry fee for some multi-day walks which assists with managing and maintaining the trails and surrounding environment.

Is it safe to go bushwalking alone?

Walking solo can be a great experience if you are properly prepared. I’d recommend:

  • Tell someone where you are planning to go and when you expect to be back, and then make sure you let them know you’ve arrived home safely afterwards.
  • Be extra careful about preparing and packing for your walk because you only have yourself to bushwalking equipmentrely on.
  • Take some extra water and food, as well as first aid supplies.
  • Stick to trails that are within your level of expertise.
  • Take a phone but don’t rely on having mobile coverage everywhere. (Remember you can use your phone’s GPS to help you work out where you are even if you don’t have phone coverage. The GPS function uses a satellite system not a mobile phone system.)
  • Download navigation and emergency services apps and practise using them before you go! Some suggestions include:
    • Orux Maps
    • GPS to SMS
    • Emergency+

How can I meet other people to bushwalk with?

Here are a few ways to meet other people who like to bushwalk:

  • join a bushwalking club
  • look on Facebook and MeetUp for bushwalking groups and activities
  • find a professional guide who can lead you on an organised walk
  • ask about walking groups and organised activities at tourist information centres and national parks offices
  • say hello and strike up a conversation with other people you meet along the trails – you’ll be surprised how much information other people have!

So there you have it – a brief introduction on how to get started bushwalking. Join me for future articles where we’ll explore more details about the amazing places you can go no matter your level of fitness or experience. And send me a message if there’s a particular question or topic about bushwalking that you’d like answered.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

Goals, Outcomes and Benchmarks

There is too much emphasis these days on outcomes. If you work for a government or corporate organisation, you’ll likely have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to aim for. Even if you work for yourself, you’ll be required at some point to reach targets related to income, funding for a project, or your client’s benchmarks. Perhaps you set specific markers for yourself in your work or personal life. Whatever label you slap on them, they’re simply ‘goals’. And success is all about reaching your goal. But have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

The Benefits of Having a Goal

Not everyone is a fan of goal-setting. Personally and professionally I love them. However I’m very choosy about what goals I commit to, as well as the finer detail that goes with them (that is, the who, how, why, when, where, what and how of the goal). I believe that having a goal to aim for can give you purpose, focus, motivation, structure, and a feeling of success when you’ve reached it.

Failing to Reach Your Goal

I also know what it’s like to NOT reach a goal. In fact there are many goals I haven’t reached. Do I consider myself a failure because I haven’t reached those goals? Definitely not. There’s much more to a goal than the final outcome (despite what business model you might be working under!)

Goals include the nitty gritty mentioned above – the who, how, why, when, where, what and how. If you only look at the ‘what’ factor (that is, the desired outcome), then you’re selling your goal short.

Real-life Examples of Failing to Reach a Goal

Overnight Expedition Fail #1

Last year I set off on an overnight backpacking trip to reach a remote bush camp on an escarpment with a small group. We knew that others had been there before. We even had some trail maps of where they’d been although we found very little other information about the area. We began our trip on an established footpad then veered uphill very steeply off track as we navigated along a ridge line. The going was very tough. There was huffing and puffing; tears; and many self-proclaimed moments of “I can’t do this!” After hours of sweating it out we realised we were simply not going to make it. The route we’d taken was described somewhere as ‘moderate’ but it was nothing like my idea of moderate at all! My new grippy-soled Merrill’s were no match for the steepness of the terrain and I couldn’t get the image of myself sliding uncontrollably down the mountain out of my mind. As dusk arrived and we were still miles away from our destination, we chose to retrace our steps back to a small saddle and set up camp for the night.

As it turned out, camping here in the middle of nowhere was the most magical experience! Stars and night sounds accompanied our tired bodies and minds as we settled down to rest after one of the most gruelling walks I’d ever done. Disappointment called loudly, but I put it in the background, completely mesmerised by what was before me.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I failed to reach the destination at the time I planned, but I did not fail in every other aspect of the goal. I tried my hardest on this walk, gathered more information about the terrain, discovered that having a rope would have been handy to navigate some of the steep sections, and I accidentally uncovered the world’s most amazing remote camping spot!

Remote camping
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathryn Walton (author)

Overnight Expedition Fail #2

So gruelling was this trip that I wasn’t interested in making another attempt of this same route. However last week the opportunity arose to try a different route …. to the same destination. Hmmm ….. this could be interesting! So with backpacks on, new maps and routes, a conversation with the Park Ranger to gather more local knowledge, some added confidence, and we were off. We even organised a small water cache for ourselves about 6kms from where we left our car in case we needed it on our return trip. Lesson learned from previous trip!

This time the terrain was not steep and slippery. It was rugged in a different way. Following old logging roads through rainforest proved so slow that it was almost impossible. Our planned route was entirely overgrown with woody vines, weeds, stinging trees and thickets. Navigating using map and compass seemed impossible in the thick rainforest, and using GPS was also haphazard with the dense canopy disrupting satellite communication. Progress was terribly slow. Climbing and untangling, diverting and problem-solving, re-calibrating and double-checking. We gradually made our way through the jungle.

Once again as the sun dropped low in the western sky, we acknowledged we’d failed to reach our destination once again. We’d need at least one more full day of navigating and pushing through scrub and forest to get there at this pace.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I did not reach the destination in the allotted timeframe, but in every other aspect I experienced success. I’d tried something new, hadn’t given up, approached each problem that arose with calmness (well, almost!), deeply appreciated the majesty of the rainforest around me, and felt connected with all who had been here before me, and all who would come after me.

Not reaching your goal does NOT equal failure!

So in my opinion, if you set a goal and don’t achieve it in the way you planned or in the time frame you set, that does NOT mean you’ve failed. It simply means you haven’t arrived there yet. It’s an opportunity to learn, re-assess, and redesign. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to say “Actually, that goal isn’t what I want after all. I’m going to change the goal post to suit me, rather than changing myself to suit the goal post.” If you don’t reach your goal, it’s not an indication of failure at all. It’s an opportunity. Go grab it!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to exercise on a budget: what about walking?

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How DO you exercise on a budget?

There are so many pressures to spend your hard-earned money on, well, ummmm ….. basically everything! Including exercise. If you tune into the world around you or if you’re easily hooked into comparing yourself to others, you’ll probably believe that you HAVE to pay for a gym membership, you HAVE to buy fancy equipment to get fit, and that you HAVE to have the latest super-tech clothes if you intend to work up a sweat (which kind of goes along with exercise!).

Well I’m telling you that all these have-to’s are simply not true. Sure, some of those fancy clothes or equipment can enhance your exercise, but for aeons humans have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. I mean, exercise is basically improving your strength and aerobic health through activity that puts a load on your body. It doesn’t HAVE to cost anything, and crying poor is never a reason to stay on the sofa.

Back in my day …..

Ask your grandparents or great grandparents (if they’re still around) and they’ll tellfirewood you what it was like back in their day. I bet they’d say no one needed any gyms or fancy schmancy pants in the olden days: exercise consisted of a hard day’s work out on the farm fixing fences, collecting and chopping wood for the kitchen fire, walking to the shop and doing the laundry in a boiler!

You don’t need a big budget!

Yes, times have changed and it’s a different world we live in, but there are some things that have stayed the same. To exercise on a budget, you simply get back to the basics – focus on your daily dose of physical activity instead of the frills-and-all approach that can suck you in. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes, pull on some comfy clothes and a hat. Slap on some sunscreen. Grab a bottle of water. And you’re all good to go walking, one of the best and most accessible types of exercise we have.

Why is walking ideal? Oh my goodness, let me count the ways!

  1. You can set your own pace
  2. It’s convenient – slip on your shoes and get out the door no matter where walking in bootsyou live or work or travel
  3. You can do it alone or in a group
  4. You’ve probably already got everything you need to go walking
  5. If you don’t have everything, you still don’t HAVE to spend a lot to get started
  6. No special equipment needed
  7. It’s free in general – to tell you the truth, there are a few places I’ve been to that charge a small fee such as a day entry fee to some National Parks or car parking fees in busy tourist or urban spaces, but that’s the exception not the rule. Walking is one of the cheapest ways to exercise on a budget.

Walking ….. “BORING!”

Walking is boring, you say? Well, anything’s boring if you repeatedly do the same thing day after day, in the same place, and in the same way.

Never be bored again!

Here are some ideas to vary up your workout so you’ll never be bored again, even if you need to exercise on a budget (and that’s most of us)!

  1. Mix it up – walk in different placeswalking on the beach
  2. Choose different length walks – some days go long, and other days go short
  3. Go solo, or meet up with a buddy
  4. Join a walking group
  5. Have a go at Park Run
  6. Change up which direction you go on your usual route
  7. Challenge yourself to an uphill climb
  8. Relax with a downhill walk
  9. See the city sights on an urban walk
  10. Climb those stairs – repeatedly!
  11. Go exploring on a water walk – river, dam, ocean
  12. Treat yourself to a bushwalk – check out National Parks, State Forests, reserves
  13. Wander along the beach, feel the sand between your toes
  14. Walk with a purpose: walk to work, school, a friend’s place, bus or train station, shops
  15. Swap your usual routine and enjoy the sights at a different time of day
  16. Grab a map and compass and give orienteering a go
  17. Use a navigation app or device to pre-plan your walk – you can even be really creative by designing a funky picture that overlays the streets and then follow that on your walk
  18. Pace the paddock or local park
  19. Walk with a backpack for added load, or take some light hand weights
  20. Walking meetings are all the rage!
  21. Have a walking break at lunch time or after work to wind down and de-stress
  22. Leave your car a few kilometres from work or the train / bus station and walk the rest of the way
  23. Earn as you walk – deliver newspapers or pamphlets house-to-house
  24. Go window shopping
  25. Take your kids for a walk after school while everyone chats about their day

Walking can be your go-to exercise too!

Walking has always been my go-to exercise because I can do it almost anywhere, any time, with little equipment, no expense, and all the benefits of feeling great and knowing I’m giving my future health an awesome boost! And you can too! Start with any of the ideas above and let me know how you go, or share your other ideas with me on how to exercise on a budget. 

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

My First Overnight Hiking Adventure!

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Here is Episode 2 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle – GIRRAWEEN HERE WE COME!

My year of adventure

Being a year that I’ve devoted to adventure, I’ve been consciously seeking opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone and expand my inner world. A life of adventure is so much more inviting than a life of being limited by fears and self-imposed routines. So I found myself, rather surprisingly, publicly announcing my intention to have a go at overnight hiking, an activity that in the past has always brought the question to my mind “Why?” I mean, backpacking never really made much sense to me – deliberately burdening yourself with a heavy weight on your back, being completely self-reliant in every aspect, and ….. (and this is a big issue …..) not having access to showers and toilets! Honestly, why would you do this? Where is the fun factor in that?

Backpacking equipment

Looking for my next big challenge

Well, funnily enough, on my life-long journey of self-discovery I’ve come to see that it’s very often the really tough stuff that gives me that sense of being fully alive, an elated feeling that comes with achievement and pushing my limits, rising to a challenge and then reflecting on how I’ve grown because of it, and bringing about a sense of fun. Was backpacking the next big challenge I needed in life to learn to let go of the excess physical and mental stuff that I’ve become attached to, and develop independence and self-confidence in who I am? I started to realise that the stories I’d been telling myself about backpacking, were simply stories; not factual stories at all – simply fiction, made up in my mind keeping me small and stopping me from having a go at something that might turn out to be fun after all.

Don't believe everything you think

 

The value of goal-setting

And so with my public announcement of my overnight hiking goal, I began to get myself organised. I decided to share my experience here because I want people to know how valuable goal-setting can be; that we can learn so much more beyond what we expect; and that sometimes goals are uncomfortable, sometimes we lose our way, sometimes we change direction or even miss our target altogether. With goal-setting comes a fear of failure, of not being good enough, a fear of giving up – issues I’ve been working on for myself over the past few years, and now here is my perfect chance to put it all together and see what I can do!

best things in life start with a dream

1st Step – Research!

First started the research – reading and watching books, blogs, vlogs and videos. I began asking questions of others, looking in hiking stores, talking with family and friends about the idea. And pretty soon my goal began to take root and blossom. Yes there have been many doubts and worries along the way, but I knew I was doing this for me. To be the best me I can be, to learn from going through the process even if I didn’t like it and even if I decided not to go through it again. I never said I had to like overnight hiking or keep doing it. I simply said I wanted to try it on for size and see how it fitted for me.

Well actually, yes I can!

2nd Step – Skills Development!

Secondly I embarked on a project to prepare myself with skills to become more bush-savvy. I participated in an introductory and then an intermediate level navigation and trekking workshop for women. Wow, this was amazing! So many other women of all ages, immersing themselves in a lifestyle of outdoor adventure, choosing to skill themselves up and push their limits! Knowing I was not alone was as important as the actual navigation skills I gained from the workshops.

Compass, maps and navigation equipment

Girraween, here we come!

Finally, with all the right conditions in place – fine mid-season weather, a committed crew of family, a convenient vacancy at the dog boarding kennels for little Tommy, no bushfires, no sickness or injury that would prevent us from going (although it was definitely touch and go for a while!), school assignments done and dusted for the term – we set off for Girraween National Park. This is one of my favourite places to retreat to. Being not far from home it’s kind of like my other backyard.

granite formations

Planning for minimal risk

We had planned our adventure to be a gentle introduction to overnight hiking. We chose marked trails in a National Park we were familiar with so we knew we wouldn’t get lost and would have easy access to help if we needed it. With minimal travel time, low chance of rain and a fairly short distance to walk, we were pretty sure we’d survive the weekend and be home in time for dinner on the Sunday!

Backpacking in national park

What have I got myself into?

Hauling our packs onto our backs at our starting point on Saturday was pretty daunting. I was having serious doubts about my very sore foot that had been under treatment but it had flared up again. I groaned under the weight of my pack and secretly feeling nauseous at the idea of what I’d gotten myself into. But we set off, slowly plodding along the established trails stopping regularly to soak in the beauty all round us. Only a few minutes into our adventure we saw a big shiny red-bellied black snake slithering gracefully through the undergrowth – a reminder to stay alert at all times.

Stone Cottage, Girraween

The first day

We walked 14 kilometres on Saturday at a leisurely pace, munching on homemade protein balls, trail mix and wraps whenever we were hungry. From Underground Creek past West Bald Rock and onto the Stone Cottage, we felt like we were in our own little world. We set up camp in the late afternoon feeling somewhat weary but cheerful. I had pre-cooked our dinner, a result of choosing not to invest just yet in a lightweight stove. It always amazes me how good the most basic food can taste when you’ve been physically active all day.

tents set up in the remote bush camp

Watching the sun set and the moon rise was a perfect end to our day as we crawled into our tents to sleep. But oh! the fun and games of getting those inflatable pillows ‘just right’!

The second day

Morning brought us slowly to our feet, still aching from the day before. With time to potter around the campsite exploring our surroundings we gradually wound ourselves up for more walking. Having consumed most of our food and much of our water, we were relieved to haul our packs on our backs again and find the weight much more agreeable. As we walked along the Peak and Creek Trails we were fascinated to see how different everything appeared compared to when we’d ridden our mountain bikes through here. We chatted with some other walkers along the way and arrived back at Underground Creek for lunch, a pretty easy 10 kilometre stroll along gently undulating terrain with spectacular views of Mt Norman, other granite structures and an array of spring wildflowers.

Mt Norman

I’d read stories about crows and currawongs pilfering bushwalkers’ backpacks, and was astonished to be caught out myself when I put my pack down to explore the marvellous formations of a granite outcrop. My trail mix was the object of its fascination, tearing into the ziplock bag through the side mesh pocket on my pack. A pretty obvious lesson learned!

The crow got my trail mix!

What! Is it already time to go home?

Our weekend adventure seemed to be over all too soon. We couldn’t bear to think we’d have to get back into the car and drive off when it felt like we had only just begun! So we sauntered down to Dr Robert’s Waterhole and gazed at the reflections in the water for some time, extending our time as long as possible. I wonder what adventures the First Nations People have had in this stunning landscape, and what adventures other hikers, landowners and picnickers have had here throughout time as well.

Dr Robert's Waterhole

A new series of adventures begins

We knew right then that our overnight hiking adventure was just the first episode in a whole new series of adventures for us. The doubts, the lack of toilets and showers, the physical and emotional challenges were not going to keep us living a small life. Bring on the next adventure I say!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Adventures In the Great Outdoors

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle.

My best memories and my best learning about life have come from spending weekends and holidays in the great outdoors. As a child my parents whisked us away for family holidays in our caravan or tent, taking in wonderful adventures as we immersed ourselves in some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. We took walks in the grandeur of rainforested mountains enthralled by stories of our ancestors’ pioneering days. On secret secluded beaches we discovered ocean life washed upon the shore – evidence of another world we could barely begin to imagine. Across the deserts we drove, soaking in the wonder of the sunrises and sunsets, a land of extremes in myriad ways.

Family Beach Camping

My teenage years brought the opportunity to go camping with my Girl Guide and Ranger crews. As a restless sleeper, I knew then that my best sleeps came after a day in the outdoors, hiking, learning woodcraft skills, cooking over a campfire, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, riding bikes and simply being with others who loved the adventure as much as I did.

Beach Adventures

It was no surprise then that at uni I met and married a kindred spirit of the outdoors. We spent our leisure time exploring all the usual National Parks trails within a few hours drive of the city, playing frisbee in the park, cycling the local roads and pathways, paddling on the bay and local creeks, and filling our lives with regular camping trips near and far.

Rainforest Adventures

As our children arrived on the scene, they too were included in our adventures which were modified to accommodate their growing needs. Nurturing their love of the outdoors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. To see their little faces eagerly joining in on walks, creek paddling and bike rides has been completely heartwarming. And to hear their excited voices asking questions, always asking questions, soaking it all in, enthusiastic about nature and adventure, curious about their world and seeing themselves as a valuable and integral part of it has been a spirited journey.

Trop[ical Rainforest Adventures with Children

Through family illness and injury, study stresses and sporting commitments, work pressures and ties to family, friends and farm animals, we’ve kept up our habit of spending much of our leisure time in the great outdoors. Sometimes our adventures have been confined to the backyard (albeit a sizeable acreage of dry bushland) because that’s all we could do at the time. However sometimes our adventures have taken us to amazing far off places – interstate road trips with the trailer packed to the brim with camping gear. We’ve camped and hiked in awe-inspiring places like the The Warrumbungles, Mt Kaputar, the Blue Mountains, Carnarvon Gorge, Atherton Tableland, Central Australia, Birdsville, Innamincka, Gibraltar Range and Sturt National Park. By the time Miss E reached high school, she’d spent more birthdays in our tent than she had at home.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

And now this year I sensed I was ready to take on a new challenge. A challenge that would combine my much-loved experiences of camping with the physical challenge of bushwalking – I decided that this year I was going to have a go at backpacking! Something I was never interested in at all until now. I mean, why would you want to carry a heavy weight on your back for hours to a campsite when you can so easily tow a trailer with everything you could possibly need (and more), and pull up right beside a campsite to unpack, in easy walking distance of the bathrooms, and with plenty of walking trails to choose from right where you are! But the inner self doesn’t always operate on logic, and I’ve learned to trust myself when I sense that I’m ready for something new. Back-flipping my thinking didn’t come easily though. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and asking myself “why?” and I don’t really have that answer yet. But what I do have is a strong pull towards challenging myself, stretching my abilities and coping skills, and discovering new possibilities for myself, not limiting myself. Surprising as it may seem, even to me, the life learning in this backpacking adventure has only just begun!

The beginning of navigation and trekking adventures

Stay tuned for my next episode of My Great Backpacking Adventure as I take off on my first overnight hiking expedition!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Make it Happen! Actions to take you from surviving to thriving

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From thriving to surviving and back again

For most of my life I’ve enjoyed the challenge of setting goals and making them happen. I’ve learned that the actions I choose can take me from surviving to thriving. I love to have a go at something new, especially adventurous activities. For a few years this seemed to slow down a bit. Perhaps it was my added commitment to my young family, our relocation to a rural area, or maybe even a simple ‘rut’ I got myself into. When life was more about surviving the usual (and not so usual) childhood illnesses, school assignments, getting the bills paid, and retrenchments, I often felt a long way from thriving.

Maybe it was my approaching middle age that brought along a renewed urge to live life as fully as possible. I know that I function at my best when I have a goal to aim for, and so when I began to focus on this aspect of myself again, I rediscovered my passion for adventure. Here I will share with you the actions that took me from surviving to thriving – you can do it too!

Goal-setting and problem-solving are key skills to success

The skills of setting goals and creatively problem-solving are key factors to success. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to create it, to action it, and to problem-solve it. It doesn’t always come easily, and we often shy away from the actions we need to take. We secretly keep our inner dreams to ourselves out of fear of failure.

Get your goal out there!

best things in life start with a dreamI’m sharing with you one of my goals that I’ve had floating about in my head for a long time. Putting it out there in the public arena is definitely not easy. I have a lot of doubts about whether I’ll succeed, but if I keep suppressing my dream, there won’t be any chance of success.  

Getting clear on my goal

I’m using the post 9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals to help me get clear on just what it is I want to achieve, and why. This clarity will give me direction and motivation.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY AN AREA FOR CHANGE

I want my life to be filled with adventurous activities instead of ho-hum routine.

STEP 2 – STAY FOCUSED ON THE CHANGE, DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY PROBLEMATIC THOUGHTS

There are plenty of problems associated with spending more time in adventurous activities. But when I’ve overcome them I’ll be living the life I want – full of activity, travel, inspiration, energy, feeling great! I’ll focus my attention on how I want it to be instead of what the problems are.

STEP 3 – SELECT YOUR SMART GOAL

I WILL GO ON AN OVERNIGHT HIKE  – something I haven’t done before!

Is it specific? YesAre my expectations realistic?

Is it measurable? Yes

Is it achievable? Yes, I’m comfortable and competent with bushwalking and camping, so the new challenge combines this with carrying my supplies.

Is it realistic? Yes, I’m reasonably fit, healthy, strong, sensible and organised. I’ll research and access resources and networks, borrow or buy equipment that I need.

Does it have a timeframe? I’ll avoid extreme weather conditions and give myself enough lead-in time to gather and test out equipment, do my research, and train to carry the weight of my pack. Spring will be an ideal season and I can select a date closer to the time based on weather and what suits my fellow hiker/s.

STEP 4 – WRITE IT DOWN!

Yep – here it is! In the public arena too! (Talk about pressure now!) But you don’t have to go public with your goal. There’s power in simply writing it down for your own reference.

STEP 5 – KNOW YOUR WHY! COMMITMENT NOT MOTIVATION!

I want to challenge the fears that limit me. I want to connect more closely with nature and discover my part in the world, learn to trust myself and stretch my limits, tap into my inner strength, develop self-reliance, and I want to finally use the backpack I bought years ago! When I feel unmotivated, I can look back at my “why” and stay committed to my goal.

STEP 6 – BREAK IT DOWN into steps
  • Research places, people, information, equipment
  • Talk to others who might like to share the adventure with me
  • Identify and collect equipment 
  • Trial various hiking foods and equipment
  • Go on training hikes with increasing distance and weight in back pack
  • Select a date (and a couple of back-up dates in case of adverse weather, sickness etc) and book campsites if necessary
STEP 7 – STEP INTO YOUR GOAL

I’ll take each step one at a time and gradually work my way towards an overnight hike.

STEP 8 – CREATIVELY PROBLEM-SOLVE ISSUES THAT ARISE

There are some predictable problems, and other new ones might arise. But I won’t give up – I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train (keep reading).

With any obstacle quote

STEP 9 – REWARD YOURSELF!

External rewards can be a blast, but that feeling of success I’ll have when I’ve achieved this goal – yeah, that – that’ll be my reward 🙂

6 steps to smash my goal usingThe Problem-solving Train’

Before I even get started, I’m thinking of all the ways that I could fail! So here I’m using the Problem-solving Train to anticipate and manage the obstacles.

STEP 1 – Probable, possible and unlikely problems

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?Probable problems: no toilets or showers, snakes, sore back and shoulders

Possible problems: hot weather, cold weather, rain, leeches, bush ticks, insufficient drinking water, equipment too heavy or too expensive, no child care, fire danger

Unlikely problems: I might be miserable, difficulty finding a suitable hiking buddy, sickness

STEP 2- choose one probable problem and brainstorm solutions

Probable problem #1: No toilets or showers

Brainstormed solutions: Hike near, and camp overnight at a site with facilities, read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene, read stories of overnight hikers, hold on and avoid toileting as much as possible,  take a porta-loo, find out about toileting aids for bushwalkers, have a wash down or swim instead of a shower, avoid extremely hot weather, talk to experienced hikers about bush hygiene, remind myself that if others can do it so can I, think about how clean I’ll feel when I get to shower afterwards – WOW! There sure is a lot of possibilities here!

STEP 3 – pros and cons

Most of my brainstormed solutions are quite useful and viable, although I don’t think I’ll take a porta-loo (too heavy, smelly, awkward, embarrassing) and I don’t think it’s a good idea to avoid toileting (hmmm, that could be uncomfortable and bring on health problems).

STEP 4THE BEST OPTION/S

I think it’s best to deal with this problem from multiple angles so I’m going to include several action-based and mind-based strategies in my Plan of Action to deal with this problem.

STEP 5 – PLAN OF ACTION

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?Choose a route and campsite for my first overnight hike that has facilities

Read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene – this could come in handy someday even if I don’t need it this time!

Talk to experienced hikers about my plans including managing bush hygiene

Read stories written by overnight hikers

Find out about lightweight toileting aids for bushwalkers

Remind myself that if others can do it, so can I!

STEP 6 – REVIEW

Once I’ve actioned my plan I can review it, even before I go on my first overnight hike. Am IWell actually, yes I can! feeling more comfortable about the issue of toileting and showering on my overnight hike? Are there any new problems I need to address? I can go back to my other brainstormed solutions, or come up with new ones. I can flex my plans to help me achieve my goal instead of simply giving up. I can push through the discomfort of the plan not working out perfectly, and tap into my determined attitude to succeed.

Keep on solving!

Once I’ve got my plans in place for all the probable and possible problems I’ve identified, it’s full steam ahead. I’m already most of the way there! It’s in this phase of identifying and then creatively solving the problems that most people get stuck. It’s this process that makes the difference on the road to success. And for me personally, it’s an exciting ride moving from surviving to thriving, making my goal of living an adventurous life a reality instead of leaving it as a whimsical dream. Stay tuned for future updates as I smash this goal!

SMART Goals WorksheetFREE GIFT! To help you clarify and action YOUR goal (whether it’s big or small or anywhere in between), download your FREE printable Create Success With SMART Goals. This handy worksheet will step you through a simplified process to identify your S.M.A.R.T. goal, your “why”, the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, any problems that might get in the way of success, and creative solutions that will propel you towards success.

Click here to download your FREE printable “Create Success With SMART Goals” from the RESOURCES tab on my website, and check out the other printables and resources while you’re there!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.