I wake on 4 March knowing I have to start work at 9am and won’t finish until 4pm on 5 March. This will be followed with long days at work on 6 and 7 March so it will take dedication to get through these four 12km outings. It’s a luxury problem though – both because I have a regular income and because I am living in a peaceful country. By contrast, those for whom I am walking are fleeing the horrors of war and often are carrying everything they own with no hope of employment or income for many years into the future. So I get up and walk. Every day.
On 4 March I start my walk before the dawn. The suburbs are sleeping but there’s plenty of walkers, joggers and fishermen at the waterfront. It’s Saturday morning, so that probably explains it. These are the people who are up while I’m usually still sleeping. The people who run quickly and who have dogs to walk. Sunrise is pretty across the tidal flats and I enjoy the walk.
I come off my triple shift at 4pm on Sunday 5 March. It’s still hot and sunny when I start waking. But by the time I reach the 3km mark the sun is starting to set. The tide is out and families are exploring the tidal flats. These flats are a combination of mud and sand. They stretch a long way out into the bay. Mangroves cover large sections of the shore line while narrow white sand separates the tidal flats from the path in others. I am happy to be out here enjoying the evening.
6 March sees me at work from 6am to 3:30pm. I’m not one to get up at ridiculous o’clock unless there’s no choice so a 3:30pm start it is. I work in beautiful Redcliffe about 500m from the waterfront so it’s no hardship to set off on this walk. A strong breeze is blowing ripping up waves on the usually calm Moreton Bay. But it doesn’t stop people from swimming to cool off from the afternoon heat.
My legs are starting to feel the effort by the time I step out of bed on Tuesday 7 March. I have muscle soreness in my feet and fatigue in my calves. But I get up, eat breakfast and walk the 12km to work. I walk along busy roads clogged with commuter traffic. The sun doesn’t start to rise until I reach the 5km mark. I can’t help but wonder whether I look odd walking through this suburban landscape with hiking poles. I’m not about to give the poles up though because the reduced pressure on my legs and feet is worth it. I get my first blister today – on my right heel. It’s a sure sign that I’m dehydrated so I spend the day pumping water into my body to start to improve things.
Tomorrow I’ll be back out in the bush for my walk. I can’t wait.
Distances: 12km, 12.1km, 12.1km and 12.1km
Cumulative distance: 98km
If you would like to support me in my chllenge to raise money for the Australian Red Cross check out my profile at http://challenge.redcross.org.au/andrewgills