It feels SO great to be on the road again! The feelings of liberation I've experienced walking across country like this are unlike anything I've experienced before. Still recovering from injury, I feel even more lucky to be able to take a slower pace as I warm up to longer distances. I knew walking would give me a chance to really observe and absorb my surroundings to an much greater degree than if I were driving, or even cycling through. But I can even notice how much more I able to absorb and appreciate when my target for the day is 20 km and not 35.
I think I've taken more photos than I've walked kilometres today. There's a little bit of poetry seemingly everywhere I look, from the single gnarly-branched Eucalypt silhouetted against a forest straight-trunked plantation timber, to the rusting farm machinery in field long-since abandoned, native saplings coming through as nature reclaims its space. I wish I could walk just 20 km every day.
Other than that, it has been quite an uneventful day. I can still feel the muscles in my left shin when going down hills. It's a good thing that I'm working up to bigger distances as I don't yet think it's fully healed. For that reason I've been walking on the grassy shoulder of the road when I can - the bitumen is just too damn hard.
I met Joe briefly today. As I was approaching the intersection of Mt Clay Rd and The Great Ocean Rd he was doing some sort of manual labour (interesting that I can't recall what) on the side of the road. "Where ya headed?" Came the introduction.
"You're f*cking crazy", he remarked, cheerily. "Go left".
We had a little yarn and I wandered off, amused by our short conversation. It's interactions like this that actually go a long way towards feeling supported along the journey. Thanks Joe.
At one point I came across a fence that was littered with used shoes. I thought it was pretty neat, and quite relevant! So I took a photo.
Then I was lucky enough to be stopped by Marcus, who had pulled over to have a chat. I realised quickly that I was talking to quite a special person, who had lived many experiences and had much wisdom to share. A local to the Portland area, he has worked in a variety of areas, from being a tradie to running a surf school for at-risk youth and now supporting people who have left incarceration. He is such an experience-rich guy, and he just oozes integrity and enthusiasm. I feel very fortunate that our paths crossed. I hope we meet again.
Now I'm tucked up behind a local CFA, counting my lucky stars that I continue to have these incredible experiences, all in the name of conservation.