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Mount Kosciuszko Pilgrimage

As part of my rest and recuperation, between Easter and ANZAC Day I went walking to the top of Australia. No, I did not go to the Northern Territory, I climbed to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak on the Australian mainland. In world terms it is not very high at 2228 metres but it was a good days walk, going from Charlotte Pass, via Main Range to the top and then back down the fire trail to our starting point, in all about 23 Km. I can assure you that there were lots of ups and downs with even some snow on the high points, but what made it worth the effort were the views which were spectacular.

Pondering this journey I was reminded of the fact that life is just like that. It is all too easy to opt for the status quo, to stay in the valley where you are comfortable, to accept mediocrity and other people’s visions rather than doing the hard work of walking it yourself. This was the hardest walk I have done in a long time, but I am glad that I made the effort, even with the weariness and sore muscles I had afterwards. Are there some mountains that you have longed to climb, but never got round to? Don’t put it off!

We met many people at the top who had taken the short cut via the chairlift at Thredbo and the much easier walk along the ridge. Not everyone is called to walk the same road, and sometimes this is a smart option, or at least a stepping stone which will prepare you for greater things in the future. What is important is that you have stretched yourself, gone to new heights and become stronger in the process.

There were many who passed us on the trail, like some young people who ran the whole track! Yet in this journey, as in life, speed was not as important as consistency and perseverance, finishing the distance. Some people who are in too much of a hurry are often the ones who get injured! Those who lack confidence are also at risk. One girl trying to cross the creek at a crucial point hesitated, refused the help of others around, and ended up completely drenched in the icy waters! We need to admit that we are not lone rangers – we need each other – and should have the confidence to ask for help when we need it, and not allow our pride to get in the way.

One final lesson which I learnt at OTS (RAAF Officer Training School) was the six P’s – “prior preparation prevents poor performance”. If you are going to do a walk like this you need to be prepared for a whole range of contingencies. I may have complained about the weight of my pack at the beginning, with all that food, water, extra clothing, wet weather gear and gloves… but we used most of it! Yes some things in life are hard, so find the positives and focus on these, as  it is those challenges that will build character and make life worthwhile!

Chaplain Ian S Whitley

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