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Solo end-to-end restores health and happiness

Jan Price – Track Name “Jan”, WA

23 January 2012

Jan heads out from Hidden Valley campsite on the last day of her end-to-end.
Jan heads out from Hidden Valley campsite on the last day of her end-to-end.

My walk began on the 30th June, ending on 30th September 2009. The picture is of me setting off on my last day from Hidden Valley.

Essential advice to anyone doing this is to keep a diary of your journey. I have read mine a couple of times and despite only the short amount of time that has past, I have found I had forgotten some things… or ‘misremembered’ them.

I first did a section of the Track (Albany to Boat Harbour) with the inaugural walk group in 1998. I was to do the entire walk, but unfortunately had to pull out. I won my spot in a competition and was given a backpack along with the walking honours. I am now very happy to say that both the backpack and I have finally done the entire walk.

My pack weighed 20kg and I lost 18kg over the walk, so at the end, I was carrying my pack for free! When I started I was massively overweight, frighteningly unfit and totally unprepared – no pre-training, no pre-walk planning. I just packed up the gear and hit the Track. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for the campsites being only 10km apart at the beginning!  Kalamunda to Dwellingup was my preparation.

I did this walk as therapy. My husband of 30 years died in May 2009 after a long and painful illness. I laughed, I cried, I threw some major tantrums, but most of all I sung, was struck speechless and immobile by the absolute beauty and timelessness of our bush and altogether had the time of my life.

Because of my need for solitude, I walked solo and I highly recommend it. I had some wonderful experiences when I shared campsites (Hi to the Pirates), but I really treasured the nights alone. I didn’t share a campsite in the entire Dwellingup to Pemberton section, and only passed three other walkers going in the opposite direction. Bliss!

I took a personal locator beacon with me (happily unused), called a ‘SPOT’ tracker (www.findmespot.com if you’re interested), which was a wonderful piece of equipment. It has three functions; an EPIRB, a locate me function for nominated friends in case of a non-life-threatening emergency, and an ‘I’M OK’ message delivered to nominated friends.  If you send the OK message to an email address, a link to Google Earth is included in the body of the email so your friends can track your progress. This kept family and friends in the loop and made them far happier about me being out there ‘all on my own’.

My walk was a slow amble. I got very miffed on the big days because I couldn’t take time out to smell the roses. However, in the end, I guess it’s all a part of the challenge and one of the reasons I am so proud to say ‘I’ve walked the Bibbulmun Track!’

The biggest thank you is to all the vollies who do such an awesome job, and thanks so much for ‘The Track’. It restored my health, my happiness and my overall wellbeing. How lucky are we?

Jan Price