Monday, March 3, 2008

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go HO!

The good news is, surely I have lost 4kg. Let me explain.

I went for my morning walk this morning. I started out just after 6:30am, deciding to take a slightly longer route than usual. There are sets of stairs dotting the foothills around here, some only the locals know about and others visible from kilometers away and so making them easy to spot. One day, walking down around the streets in the valley here, I saw a steep local road. The road dwindled to a track and the track turned into stairs. Vertical stairs, going straight up into the trees, or so it looked.

After I found out from my neighbour that there is an excellent set of about 100 steps, leading from a lower crescent road to another, winding higher up the ridge - handy! - I decided to set myself the challenge. By the time I reached the top I was wheezier than a 78 year-old chain smoker. But I'd done it. Trekking back down the narrow sealed road, I was able to take in the view from up there, the roof of our house included. It's an awesome little pocket, that's for sure.

So that whole walk takes around thirty minutes. It's not too easy, but I wanted slightly more of a challenge. And today, boy did I get it.

I did my usual circuit, but at the top of the stairs, instead of wussing out and going left (the way I normally go) and heading down the steep hill, I decided to try my luck going right. The road was just as narrow - literally edge to edge is one car's width, there are no gutters - and it took me slightly higher up and curled around the ridge - God knows how those homes are up there and how much they cost to build, the views are a-mazing, even from the road - then down the other side. I was now on the opposite side of this peak to what I normally am. I knew where I was going. Oh yeah, I'd studied the Google map. All I needed to do was follow this road straight and then I'd see the stairs that would lead me back near the local landmark I had seen from the streets below a few weeks ago.

As with every map, though, it never quite looks the same if you haven't got many things to go by... including a copy of the map right there in front of you. I came across a triangular sort of intersection with a park in the middle (strange little oasis, considering the surroundings, I thought). But on I clomped, hoping I would see something obvious to trigger the right way to head. My thighs were slowly releasing the lactic acid build-up from the earlier set of stairs I came up and were gradually stopping their screaming at me. The road meandered back to the top of the ridge and now I was walking along the top of it. Another walker came up another road, straight up from the direction of the shops, this seemed to be also a wussy way out, I was determined to find these stairs - just so I could always say I did them. I asked her in passing where they were and she said cryptically, "They're tricky to find, you have to walk down a driveway towards a house.... up that way. Good luck!" Uh, yeah, thanks for that bland description of where they are. I thought, I'll be right, they can't be that hard to spot. And on I walked.

The sealed road ran out eventually. It was uphill all the way. Now I was still on a single lane road but dodging potholes and tyre ruts. Up and up and up. Every time I looked up, there seemed to be a crest or a promising looking "driveway" which could very well lead back down to steps on the left. And each time I came to the crest, there was just more road beyond. And going .... up.

Eventually, the road started to wind back down. A slight ease in the hill. And in my breathing, mercifully. I had my water bottle with me, I'd drunk three quarters of it by now. A thought crossed my mind that Steve might soon grab the LGBB, get in my car with her and come looking for me. The sun was up now. Ooops, he'd be shitty because he wanted to get to work. Did he think I was now like this? Because I was getting there at this point.

When I saw a break in the bush, I looked through to my left, saw a train going past waaaay below and quite fast, so I knew that I was well away from the station - between stations, actually - and that I was probably closer to the next town than my own. Oh dear. I never was that good with directions. Taking them or studying them.

So I turned back. I was bitterly disappointed in myself for not finding those blasted stairs though. I had really wanted to find them and go that way, now moreso because it was surely going to get me home faster than retracing my steps. Thankfully, at least it was downhill from here. I came across a school girl - "great, is it THAT late" I thought to myself - and she dutifully blinked her big Amber Dempsey eyes at me from under peroxided pink-streaked hair and said "Oh, they're a long way from here!" in reply to my question about where the *$&#^ing stairs were. She gave me directions, just as unclear and amiguous as the first lot, but I did pick up just enough to keep a look out for when the road went back to bitumen.

Ok then. So I kept retracing my steps and eventually got to the *ahem* sealed section and off the tyre-pocked dirt road, the ruts on which I was using as very short-spaced stairs of sorts, though it was really jarring my legs, and then I spotted this t-intersection I had missed on the way up. Figuring I had nothing - except 10kg - to lose, I started down it. It was a steep downhill run this one. Everything up there was either fecking steep up or steep down. Gah. But about 10 metres along, I saw that there was a driveway running parallel with the road I was on. And beyond that was a path suspiciously looking like it might be public access (it was hard to tell because all the houses on the hill appeared to have their own very well engineered paths and steps from their carports to their homes and yards). So I went back up the hill and thought, "Bah, I've got adrenalin on my side if I'm wrong and now trespassing down some strange driveway".

But it was the right one. The top of the precarious vertical stairs down greeted me with a groan - they need to fix that old wood! - and down I went. Not sure if the knees thanked me, but it felt like such a good work-out, the entire trip.

When I finally made it back to our street, I started to muse if I was going to walk in the door to hear Steve on the phone, akin to Ellen Griswold, explaining to someone that "I don't know her exact height and weight, all I know is that she was a genius with food additives and a saint with children and ... and ... Clarke!" It took me almost two hours. Not bad for a twenty minute "I'll be back before Lolly gets up" morning walk, huh?

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