Day 43 was actually quite intensely spiritual. A wet and rainy slog, sometimes I’d look up and see brilliant sunshine beaming through a crack in the crowds and think to myself – if there is a creator, then, like compassion, rainbows, an infant’s smile – those rays of sunlight were a flourish, a kind of ‘just showing off’ signature of God.
Religious, not religious, doesn’t matter, I think a spiritual approach to life is very important.
I think spirituality, ethics and purpose all wind in together, and whether you’re an athiest making a CHOICE about how to live, or religious and looking for that divine purpose – it’s a vital and worthwhile component to human life: that seeking (or injecting) of meaning.
I think that’s where my head is at because reflecting back on Day 43, I remember a moment where I had this intense surge of power and energy and it felt like it came from somewhere else.
(I’ll go into that later – and no it wasn’t endorphins)
I woke reasonably well rested despite the intense overnight rain. (The new tarp really was pretty good).
There we are, old fella raring and ready to go.
I remember having a really weird, almost prophetic dream that night. I usually forget my dreams, but when it’s especially vivid, it can stick and I can remember them years or even decades later.
In this one, I saw sitting over a tremendous cliff face, watching the sun hang low in the sky, over the ocean.
But somehow I knew, unlike all the times in my walk I’d been watching the sun rise, this was the sun SETTING. Maybe a glimpse of the future BIG LAP and a moment on the west coast ?
Once I was up and back on the road, I pretty soon came to a town called Warrawong, and spotted a McDonalds open for breakfast.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive fan of Maccas, but during the walk it was a great place to power up a bit. Even though I had a lot of juice (electricity, I mean), it was good to top up over breakfast, as my solar solution was next to useless with all the rain.
The plan today was: Gerringong
Thanks to Valhalla Outdoor & Tactical, I had a new pair of boots on the way, and over breakfast I was able to connect with a bloke “Andy High” to take delivery down further south around Ulladulla.
At this point he was just a name on the screen and I was operating on trust & faith, but turns out I could never go wrong with Andy, what a lovely, big hearted man.
But more on him down the track a bit.
The next stretch of walk through Shell Harbour, Lake Illawarra and Kiama was just a long, sometimes rainy – but mostly pleasant – walk.
Bumped into a bunch of people. One poignant encounter with a lady who had just lost her husband to cancer, and said my struggle was helping her cope with her grief, find a wider context and look at his life as the journey, not just it’s ending.
(I love that)
This weird surge of power happened when I was walking down this long stretch of busy highway.
(Firstly though – it wasn’t endorphins, I knew my body by then – I have no non-spiritual explanation for it, except maybe “auto-hypnosis or jedi mind trick”)
But I was plodding down the side of the road, and suddenly this ripple moved down the back of my neck & spine.
I felt lighter, the burden of my pack was suddenly NOTHING.
The pains in my feet from the failing boots .. evaporated .. just .. GONE.
All of a sudden I was marching briskly – intensely, down the side of the road, and honestly it felt a bit like floating. I was astonished and tried to measure my pace, I think suddenly it was up toward 7 or 8kmph
My breathing was deep, pure, no panting or gasping.
It’s like suddenly my body was a MACHINE and it had been designed by a bloody genius.
It lasted quite a while too – maybe close to an hour. It didn’t wear off with interruption, I stopped to talk to this couple (Rhet & Liz, I think)
After we parted ways, the feeling was still there, this .. there’s no other word for it .. this feeling of power, of lightness.
(And yeah, I know how it sounds)
From the very start, my goal has been to ‘talk true’, to try my best not to hide or distort anything. If it makes me look good, bad or stupid, approach it with equal good humour and try my best to share as transparently as I can (motivated largely because I’m talking to my sons in the future, when they are grown up men and look back on this).
(I loved you SO MUCH, guys, all I wished for in life was your health, happiness, prosperity and longevity)
The feeling only started to wear off when I left the highway and started to follow this hiking/biking trail, which I thought (but was never completely sure) would be a shortcut to Kiama.
Shortcut or not, it was gorgeous.
I tried to explain my power-experience in a livestream, and a few people were writing back with stuff like “The Lord Jesus Christ has lifted you up” things like that.
Me ? I’ll never know, but I like to keep an open mind.
It’s funny how my big walk for charity (with an underlying hope for person healing) turned into more of a Quest for personal healing (and if I, in any way, won your regard, please support the charity).
So many long hours, and almost all of it there’s this background spiritual musing, a kind of rebuilding of my personal ethics and beliefs.
It wasn’t always that way, the pendulum of priorities would swing back and forth, but Day 43 was very much a philosophical and spiritual day.
But it was also a LONG day, a day of tremendous toil. I met some lovely people, and had a lot of little roadside rests.
But yeah, once that sense of power wore off, a kind of heavy tiredness seeped into me, but I pushed on throughout that rainy afternoon.
It was a day of hard toil, but many joys, including meeting lovely people like the Voysey family pictured here.
I had to circumvent some pretty sketchy roads (no shoulder), but I was becoming pretty adept at minimising the risks.
And at about mid-afternoon, I ambled into Kiama.
Holy crap what a gorgeous place. Really, just plain gorgeous.
No time to dilly-dally though (an approach I regret), someone had written in with a caravan to sleep in a bit further south at Gerringong, so I wanted to try and get there by dark.
(At this point it was an endurance slog, I was tired, the pack was wet, and the strange strength and energy certainly hadn’t come back)
The next couple of hours was spent walking mountainous terrain, facing intermittent rain, and jaw-droppingly beautiful views.
And some min-adventures and obstacles.
See the picture of the highway ahead ? The shoulder all but disappears and my best/only option is to walk behind this chainlink fence along a small drainage culvert.
Thing is, after a short distance there’s this series of blockages including fallen rock, debris and tangled growth.
It doesn’t look too bad in the pictures, but I think I got a few new uniform tears navigating through that stuff.
This picture gives you a better understanding – you can see a bit of cliff face and thick green on the left, and dead tangled branches on the right.
But the old fella made it through .. somehow.
(There was a certain relentlessness to me, now, I never wanted to backtrack, no matter the obstacle I always wanted to press forward)
Other people had written from Gerringong, including local restaurant owners.
Again, like the worlds’ oldest toddler, I was taken under the wing of kind locals, and would have a safe, dry place to sleep, with access to food, a shower, and possibly even laundry.
But I needed to get there, first!
It was a long slog, but once I got up into the highlands the sky and ocean views were more than worth the toil.
The further south I got, the more the ocean looked like it was eager to kill me. But that didn’t make it any less beautiful.
Through that day and especially the afternoon, I had this intense, growing sense of gratitude.
I had survived my cancer.
My Quest to unburden myself of the grief and sorrow .. it was working.
I had the privilege to help this important charity, to help little people like my friend Archer.
I was surrounded by intense natural beauty and it was nourishing my soul in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
And then there was this unexpected lovely human beauty, a light and sweetness I never expected. It was lifting me up, this constant kindness and understanding from the people who were following and those I met on the road.
It all kind of hit me at once when I turned this corner and saw Gerringong from up on the mountainous overlook.
It was like being punched in the stomach, it was so beautiful I literally felt weak in the knees. Looking around, the sun through the clouds, the beauty of the ocean, the vista, the town. It just all hit me.
I was weeping a little when this lovely young shirtless bogan guy pulled up and asked if I was OK, if I needed him to drive me anywhere.
He didn’t know who I was, what I was doing. I could be crazy or dangerous.
He just saw an old man, looking distressed, by the side of the road, and immediately pulled over to ask “are you OK ? What can I do to help you ?”
I think he was a big gobsmacked when I explained my Quest, but what a lovely young man, I want to be more like him.
And I intend to try.
The Werri Beach Caravan Park was just bloody lovely. The restaurant people brought me some incredible food (see in the video) but were a bit shy and didn’t want to be shared – so I can’t show them to you.
But it was a day of tremendous kindness, light and healing, and I slept like a baby.