I’m going to hike the Le Tour du Mont Blanc that lies in France, Italy and Switzerland this June 2016. As part of my training, I decided to do The Great North Walk of Sydney to Newcastle. Section by section and only the ones that are accessible by public transport on both ends of the route. Not camping, just an all day hike on most weekends. Mapping my tracks, taking photos and writing travel diaries along the way.
Day 1 – Teralba to Awaba
Well my initial ambitious plan was to hike from Teralba to Ellalong. But my shin splints, lack of fitness and inexperience with the terrain prevented me of making my goal. I have suffered shin splints from my previous weekend hike. My walking technique on that day was terrible, heel strike on a concrete pavement for more than 20KM was the cause of my shin splints and by the end of the day I was in pain. I literally can not walk because of the sharp tingling pain.
The pain subsided a little during the week and I decided to do this hike as I thought I can manage it. Big mistake! After alighting from Teralba train station at 5AM, I can already feel that sharp pain on my shins but I kept on walking. I downloaded Map My Hike phone app to record my tracks for progress management and further analysis. Annoying thing is I forgot my head torch and so I was walking in the dark for the first hour.
I didn’t like the first 8KM. You’re mainly walking along the main road. Some smart ass truck driver thought it would be funny to honk his horn. I got startled and almost lost my balance. I started listening to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Mainly because I was thinking of going to The Running Of The Bulls in July. I have been listening to audio books while I’m hiking. It gave me company, like a friend telling me stories while I’m hiking alone.
Finally made it to the forested area but the downside is, its the start of uphill walking. Along the way a person on a horse passed by. We chatted for a bit and commented that “It’s much easier if you have horse.” Yeah no doubt. A few trail runners passed by and it looks like they came all the way from Mount Sugarloaf.
After several hours of walking, my shins were hurting badly. I decided to abandon the walk when I got to the junction 200 metres from the Watagan Forest Motel. From when I cross the Pacific Highway to this junction, I have been walking uphill. So I wasn’t really looking forward to the arduous path of downhill walking. I hate this more than uphill to be honest. Loose rocks and dry leaves made it slippery. And yes, I did slip and fell on my ass a couple of times. The area has a lot Four Wheel Drive track and looking at the terrain, it will need an off road vehicle with a very extreme suspension to tackle this tracks.
The closest train station is Awaba and checking the timetable and my watch, I have about 1 hour to get there or else I will miss the train and wait for a couple of hours for the next one. I increased my walking speed and ignored the pain. Eventually I made it to main road and walked limply along the main road. After about 1km, someone stopped by and ask me if I wanted a ride. I looked inside the car and saw a little kid in the back and thought that it is safe enough. I suspiciously asked “Where you going?” and replied “I’m going to Newcastle.” “Thank God.”, I said to myself quietly. I graciously asked “Can you drop me off Broadmeadow Station?” in which he replied “No problem, Its along my way.”
First time riding in cars with a stranger and I never hitch hike before. While inside the car, we talked about bushwalking and his travels. He grew up in the area, hiked around in New Zealand and lived in Canada for a year in his younger years. Apparently you need to know French when living in Canada and expect minus 30°C in the winter. After about half an hour, we arrived to the train station and parted ways. Thanks mate.