Point to Pinnacle part 1

A backlog of posts about my Point to Pinnacle experience, being a not overly fit, desk-bound, not-getting-any-younger casual walker. 

27 July 2018

I like to walk. I go for a 20-minute walk every morning and aim to walk at least 12,000 steps every day.

Occasionally, I sign up for organised walks like the City to Casino Fun Run (and Walk) and have participated in CARE Australia’s Walk in Her Shoes challenge, which is a walking challenge to raise funds for CARE’s work with women in developing countries.

These have all been reasonably gentle events that haven’t been overly physically challenging for me.

However, there is one event that I’ve thought about participating in for several years and never made the commitment to because it’s beyond the next level for me.

The Point to Pinnacle is described as:

the toughest half-marathon in the world, and for good reason, with just over 1270m of ascending, gradients above 10% and extreme changes in climate and weather conditions. The event is a challenge of the human spirit and allows people of all ages and abilities to be involved through our walk or run. It is now one of Tasmania’s iconic events that draws many people from interstate and internationally each year. (2018 Point to Pinnacle Event Book)

The course starts at Wrest Point Car Park and goes for 21.1 km to the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

I was walking with a friend in the City to Casino earlier this year and mentioned I was considering entering this event. I said that I’d thought about it but never done it. She said something along the lines of, you don’t do it by thinking about it. She had a point, and I thought maybe this would be the year I’d do it. But I wasn’t sure.

Fast forward to today and I had to see the HR guy who had coordinated my work’s participation in the City to Casino. I had to return a shirt that my sister had refused to wear. (I don’t blame her; they were most unflattering). I handed the shirt back, he thanked me and I wondered for a brief second if I should go back to my desk or if I should say something about how much I had enjoyed participating in the race and how good it was for work to be supporting things like this.

I did neither.

“I’m going to do the Point to Pinnacle,” I blurted out.

Brain-mouth disconnect. Why would I tell anyone that?

He looked at me in what I can only describe as horror*.

“I could never do that,” he said. This from a guy who is, I imagine, because he ran the City to Casino, fairly fit.

Instant fear struck my heart. If a fit, young(er than me) guy said he wouldn’t attempt it, what in hell made me think I could do it? Up until then, I’d imagined it would be difficult (because hills) but not overly impossible for someone with my level of fitness to do. I know people who have done it and haven’t died, so I know it’s possible. I semi-regularly do 10 km walks so I know I’m not entirely unfit. However, this is double that distance and involves a mountain. It’s not exactly the same thing.

“I’m walking it,” I said.

I don’t think that needed to be said. A quick glance at my physique would tell anyone I’m not a runner, let alone a runner who runs 20 km up mountains.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well I look at it like this,” I continued because I’d got myself into this conversation and now I had to end it. “It’s in about three months, so if I sign up, I’ve committed and I have to do it so I’ll have to train for it. There won’t be any getting out of it.”

“Yeah,” he said, looking less than convinced.

I am now doubting myself bigtime. Is it going to be a hell of a lot harder than I had thought? Am I completely crazy to think I can do this?

Registrations open next week. I have set a reminder to sign up. Am I going to do this? Am I going to let someone else’s reaction stop me?

No, I am not. I’ll never know if I can do it unless I try. I have enough time to prepare. I’m committed and I’m doing it.

 

*HR guy’s reaction may be slightly overstated for dramatic effect.

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A journey to freedom

After Friday’s visit to TMAG with Kramstable, I said I was going to go back to take in A Journey to Freedom more fully.

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A Journey to Freedom

I often say I’m going to revisit something and never end up doing it but this time I felt I really had to. I don’t know if it was the lure of the virtual reality “Orbital vanitas” exhibit that I didn’t see on Friday because Kramstable was too young or whether I wanted to get more fully absorbed in the works by Jhafis Quintero and Ali Kazma in the Bond Store, but this time I went back and took my time.

I’m glad I did.

I went to the Bond Store first and was the only person there.

As I noted on Friday, the low ceilings of the basement gallery added to the feeling of being imprisoned. The ten videos by Jhafis Quintero were looping so I could hear different parts of them at different times as I was watching them. This time I watched all of them. I was especially moved by the video “All the way” which depicts a journey from prison to a hospital and is one of the only ways a prisoner could get to see the outside world.

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Bond Store

Being alone in here with these videos felt very creepy and, adding to this claustrophobic atmosphere, I could hear footsteps from the people in the gallery above me, as well as the music from Janet Biggs’ piece “Carpe Diem”.

I don’t know if this was deliberate, to be able to hear the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon alongside Jhafis Quintero’s pain at being incarcerated, but I found it very moving and it added a different perspective to the videos.

Janet Biggs’ piece, juxtapositioning a tethered eagle against an American football team, was interesting and the vision of the eagle was one of the most disturbing pieces for me. It clearly wanted to fly away.

The remainder of the exhibits were in the main museum building, which I had seen on Friday but this time I had the chance to take my time. I experienced the “Orbital vanitas” virtual reality exhibit, which was very cool but kids under 13 weren’t allowed to see it so we hadn’t done it on Friday. The artist, Shaun Gladwell, says, “You are placed inside an enormous human skull that is orbiting above the earth. The atmosphere reflects my current mood in both political and philosophical terms — which is very dark indeed.” The content wasn’t anything that I’d consider unsuitable for an under-13 year old so there must be some technical reason younger kids can’t see it.

I watched the 11-minute video “A Guard’s Story: at work inside our detention centres” by Sam Wallman, which is the story told by a former Serco employee at a detention centre. It sounded horrific.

“It is still nightfall” (C’est encore la nuit) by Mounir Fatmi was a series of photographs of the underground Qara Prison in Morocco. The photos were of the ground-level air vents that were the only source of light in the prison. It was disturbing to think that such a complex held thousands of slaves in the 18th century who were shackled and forced to work on building projects.

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It is still nightfall

Closer to home was the “Prison cell” exhibit by Jean-Marcel Pancin, which was a cell door from Risdon Prison mounted on a concrete slab the same dimensions as the original cells. Jean-Marcel Pancin has made other versions of this work in other places, and its aim is to “draw attention to injustice and suffering caused by confining people behind prison walls”.

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Prison cell

It was positioned alongside Sam Wallman’s wall of drawing, which included commentary on detention centres, convicts and prisoners, as well as the statistic that imprisonment rates have increased by 39 per cent in the last ten years. “Some people,” it says, “consider prisons holding cells for the poor.”

Ricky Maynard made his series of photos of Aboriginal men in prison, “No more than what you think” in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which noted, among other things, that Aboriginal people are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginal people. He says the photographs “carry messages of our survival, not only of man’s inhumanity to man, but a feeling of what it’s like to be born black”.

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A journey to freedom by Rachel Labastie

It was very thought-provoking. The exhibits were moving and powerful and made me reflect on how fortunate I am to live where I do and not be in a situation where I’m likely to have my freedom taken from me. I’m glad to have taken the time to go back and revisit it.

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What becomes of the broken-hearted by Robert Montgomery

The exhibition is open until 29 July so you still have a few days to see it. I highly recommend it.

what to do with the photos

Last year I started a photo challenge on my Instagram account to post a black and white photo every day. It stemmed from a seven-day challenge on Facebook where the idea was to post a black and white image from your life with no people in the photo and no explanation.

I decided to keep doing it after the seven days was over and posted the images here on my blog.

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Once was tree

At the end of 2017, I knew I wanted to continue with the project but I wasn’t sure if this blog was the right place for it. As you can see from my description, stepping on the cracks is all about finding my way out of my comfort zone. Most of my posts on here are writing about the steps I’m taking and they don’t always have photos because often there isn’t a photo that’s relevant.

The black & white project is part of what I’m doing to explore the boundaries of my comfort zone, but the photos themselves aren’t related to the things I write about. They didn’t seem to belong on the blog. It felt like everything was mixed up and incoherent. A bit like my brain in January.

It finally occurred to me that it would make more sense to make a new blog devoted to the photo project—plus a couple of other projects that I’m working on—and to keep the writing here.

So in between going out and actually taking photos, stuffing around with processing apps and Photoshop, working, and doing school holiday stuff, that’s what I’ve been doing. And here it is straighlinesgirl images. Thank you to my sneak-peekers who gave me feedback and encouragement to go live.

The not such a good day

This morning, after I had watched the sun slip over the horizon, I wrote:

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I was feeling great about everything I was doing until yesterday when a few curve balls stopped me in my tracks and I no longer felt like I was in a good place.

So today I need to be kind to myself and do good things for myself and not give in to the temptation to go off the rails and start drinking and staying up late and eating crap food. Because I’ve only just started to reel that in from New Year.

And I have to remind myself that it will get better.

I need to remind myself that the first thing that’s upset me will happen no matter how I feel about it and there is nothing I can do or could have done to change that. I need to accept that and acknowledge my feelings, but not dwell on them. If I let myself get too upset by this, I’m going to end up miserable about something I can’t do anything about and I don’t think that’s a good use of my energy.

The second thing is in the past and I can’t change that either. I need to remind myself that I did the best I could with what I had at the time, that I’m older and wiser now and past me would not want now me to hold myself back because of things that happened years ago.

The third thing hasn’t even happened, and might not, and worrying about it now will not make a bit of difference to whether it happens or not. Arming myself, talking, and learning to recognise signs that it might be happening are practical things I can do, but worrying serves no one. Least of all me.

The fourth thing might be nothing so, again, worrying doesn’t help. It will most likely be sorted out today and that should be the end of it. It was just unexpected and it threw me right out when I was already feeling miserable, so of course, I latched onto the worst case scenario instead of looking at it realistically.

Now all I have to do is to convince myself this is all true and that the best thing I can do is . . . well, I’m not sure what to do. I’m still learning to deal with days like today. I can’t out-logic my feelings, so maybe I just sit with them a bit, have a cup of tea and read a good book. And stay away from any news sources.

So what did I do?

I already had the day off work, and I had been looking forward to doing some activities with Kramstable, but one of the things that happened put a stop to that and I had to change my plans.

This meant I hung around at home all morning, sorting some papers and tidying my desk. The floor looked appealing and I was tired and I lay down and went to sleep. I’m sure my osteopath wouldn’t have approved and I’m not sure that the money I’m spending to get my back fixed is being well-served by me doing this. However, what’s done is done and I needed the sleep.

I could have done lots of things today. I could have had that cup of tea and read a book. (I don’t actually drink tea. But liquorice spice, that’s my thing.) I didn’t. I could have got out the drawing exercises I want to go over again and practised. I didn’t. I could have started work on one of my photo projects I have a hankering to do. I didn’t.

I didn’t do anything that would’ve had any impact on anything I really want to do. I basically wasted the day. It was hot and, by the time Kramstable and I got back from the appointment about the thing (which is all fine, by the way, nothing to worry about), I was exhausted. I watched him do some acting. I went through some emails that have been sitting around for weeks. I fell asleep on the couch. I really felt like all I wanted to do today was sleep.

Part of me is saying, “Good. You obviously needed rest. You had a day off and you had some rest. Good for you.” And part of me is saying, “You’ve wasted an entire precious day off. What were you thinking? Think of all the things you could have done today. You can never get that time back again.”

So now I feel half-good and half-bad and I don’t know if I feel any better than I did this morning, just that I’m another day closer to having to go back to work.

Only sitting here now on the deck, as the air cools down and the sky starts to darken, listening to the wind in the trees and the occasional cluck from a chicken (or whatever the hell sound it is the Dorkings make), I can’t help thinking I’m being a real sook. I have so many good things in my life. I mean, I have a deck with water views that I can sit on in almost silence and think and write. How great is that!

Last year was, for the most part, brilliant and I think I started things that I will have opportunities to explore more, things I will learn more from and things that will create more adventure in my life. This year is going to be exciting.

Some things will always upset me. Some things I will always worry about. Some things I won’t know how to handle. Life’s like that. It has its good days and its bad days. Today was a bad day, or perhaps just not such a good day, and that’s okay. I’ll have those days. And you know what, I’ll get through them. There might be tears and there might be napping, but I will get through those days.

I hope that, next time I feel like I do now, I’ll remember sitting out here looking at the clouds and the water, hearing the birds and thinking how lucky I am, how grateful I am, to be exactly where I am. And I hope that if I do remember, it will help me to get through that time, just like it’s helping me right now.

I’d been hoping for a glorious sunset photo to round off this post, like the one I missed last night, but it wasn’t to be. So, this instead.

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Here’s to a better tomorrow.

The new year

I posted a different version of this post on instagram this morning with a non-sunrise picture of the beach. You can see a bird if you really look.

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I was going to do it a couple of days ago, before the end of 2017, but I’m not good on this type of deadline and ran out of time to think everything through and write it down. Actually, I do that a lot because I always overthink things, start to write it all down and never finish it. But now I have actually finished it so I can check this one off the list.

2017.

I moved to a different suburb after almost 12 years living in the Derwent Valley. This was a huge change, but one I have no regrets about at all.

We got two new chickens and my favourite chicken, Isabelle, died.

I discovered that loss in one area can lead to positive things somewhere else in my life.

I had to let go of something I enjoyed doing very much (I wrote about this all the way back in May), which made me cry, but after thinking it all through I realised it has started to open up new opportunities to explore what I really want to do and to learn more about myself.

I have found new ways of looking at the world, discovered beauty in unexpected places and have started to sing with a group that has just started up. (It’s true. It’s on YouTube.)

I have gotten to know some passionate, inspirational people who make beautiful art.

I left a job of 12 years, which was scary, but which I needed to do because I was feeling stuck and uninspired where I was. I’m still slightly terrified and bewildered about the new job, but it’s all good.

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I am grateful for everything that happened in 2017 and the experiences I had because I have learned and grown so much.

I’m grateful for the support from my little online community, whether I originally knew you IRL, or if I only know you online, or whether you’re an online friend who has become a real-life friend. Thank you all for being there. I said at the start of the year I was going to try to be okay with how I was feeling, to not squash my feelings, and to accept that not being okay is okay. I think I’ve made progress there.

Thank you for the lessons, experiences and new perspectives, 2017, and welcome 2018.

I know I say this every January, but I do want to write on the blog more regularly. I think the black & white photo challenge will help with that. I’m posting most of those photos on instagram, and when I get enough I repost them all here. I also made a separate page (here) where I’m putting my favourite black & whites so they’re all in one place.

 

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Not actually B&W but I like to break the rules. They’re my rules and I can break them if I want to.

 

I didn’t find using the blog as accountability for my health habits was working particularly well because it kind of relies on people calling me out if I don’t stick to what I said I was going to do. And it wasn’t very interesting reading. So I think I’ll consign that to the bin for now.

I’m not sure if I want the blog to focus more on photos or more on writing, or if it’s capable of being about both, so my intention is to post at least three times a week with one or the other or both and see what happens. It might become obvious over time, or I might have to make a decision, but for now, I’m just going with the flow.

I’m excited about 2018 and the possibilities for me to have new adventures in my everyday life. I want to focus on learning something new and finding something to be grateful for every day, making more photos, writing more, staying active and seeking out and appreciating the beauty that is around me. I also want to become clearer on what I really want to do and to let go of things I don’t want to do but am doing because I think I should want to do them or that I wished I wanted to do. (Gretchen Rubin puts it like this: “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do”.)

Happy New Year and may the coming year be good to you and your loved ones.

Sunrise

Yesterday morning Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, I watched the sun rise over the beach.

The first hint of colour in this sky.

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And I watched the colours change as the sun came up. It was magickal. I could see the colours spreading out across the clouds like there was an invisible painter. Or my eyes were playing tricks on me. I prefer to believe the former.

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I felt so grateful to have been able to sit there and watch it. It was awesome, and I might have got something in my eye.

It was a wonderful way to start the morning.

This morning I went back. Before the sun starts to paint the sky with its glorious colours that dazzle and overwhelm, there is this special quiet time where everything is mostly dark, the rocks, the water, the clouds. And there is just a hint of light on the horizon, reflected in the water.

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This is my favourite time, not the showy sky painting time.

I just sit on a rock, watching, listening and thinking. I am grateful to have this time at this time of year. It’s one of the parts of summer that I actually like.

And then after the show, the tree.

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Silence

Today I picked up a copy of the free magazine published by Penguin Books, underline, which had a feature on a book called Silence: In the Age of Noise by the Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge. I had never heard of Mr Kagge before today, but according to the magazine, he is the first person to walk to the South Pole alone and has also climbed Mt Everest and travelled to the North Pole.

20171126 SilenceI was most fascinated to read that he had explored the underground sewers of New York and he had walked from one end of Los Angeles to the other in four days – slowly, staying in hotels along the way – attracting the attention of the police as he went. In another article I read, he said that the police thought it was really suspicious for someone to be walking around because the only people they saw walking were “crackheads, prostitutes, and crazy people”.

That really blew me away. I cannot imagine a place where walking around was so unusual that the cops would think you were up to something. I love walking and exploring on foot. It’s what I do. It’s part of my identity. A journey like that would have been fascinating. To have taken four days to explore 35 kilometres.

The magazine had an extract from Mr Kagge’s book, which had me captivated from the first word. I need to read this book. I will be going to the bookshop on Monday to see if they have it. The whole extract spoke to me, but two passages really stood out.

“The secret to walking to the South Pole is to put one foot in front of the other, and to do this enough times. On a purely technical scale this is quite simple. Even a mouse can eat an elephant if it takes small enough bites. The challenge lies in the desire.”

As I was reading, I thought that this summed up exactly the struggle I have every day to try and ingrain the good habits I want to have in my life. Technically, it’s simple. Do the thing enough times, day after day, consistently and you build a habit that sticks. But until you’ve done it enough times to make it stick (and the 21-days theory is complete bullshit in my experience) you have to have the desire. And when the desire for another whisky outweighs the desire for a 10pm bedtime, you’re (I’m) in trouble, and the bad habit, rather than the good one, is reinforced.

“On the 27th day I wrote: ‘Antarctica is still distance and unknown for most people. As I walk along I hope it will remain so. Not because I begrudge many people experiencing it, but because Antartica has a mission as an unknown land.’ I believe that we need places that have not been fully explored and normalised. There is still a continent that is mysterious and practically untouched, ‘that can be a state within one’s fantasy’. This may be the greatest value of Antarctica for my three daughters and generations to come.”

This made me think of the desire within Tasmania to “unlock” more of this precious state to commercial ventures that would allow more people to experience our wild places but at the cost of the pristineness of those places. It’s a practical example of the observer principle. Observing something changes its nature. To open up these places to more people changes the fundamental thing that makes them worth seeing in the first place.

(You know I gave in to the desire for another whisky, right?)

I can’t wait to read the book. Silence is something that I crave, and learning to find it as Mr Kagge did “beneath the cacophony of traffic noise and thoughts, music and machinery, iPhones and snowploughs” (maybe not snowploughs) is something I would love to explore more.