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The Question “Why”?

Brigita Ferencak, WA

24 September 2015

Brigita Ferencak is a BTF volunteer and Life Member of the Foundation. She has completed two end-to-end walks and has a special affinity with the Track as she explains in her story:

Lao-Tse, a philosopher of the 6th century B.C., made the statement, “The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step”.  It was with this in mind that I embarked on not only a hiking trek, but on a life changing journey that would set the course for a newly discovered quality of living that I thought I had lost forever.

In 2006, at the age of 28, I was in a serious car accident that left me with permanent impairment of the function of my hands and arms, and after a seemingly endless ordeal of doctors, therapists, hospitals, surgery, pain clinics and drugs I had given up on the idea of resuming my life of joy and adventure. Up to that time I had enjoyed many years of roaming the world to faraway places. I had experienced the world in all its splendour and lived life to the full. Nature and the outdoors have always held a fascination for me, and I was able to combine my profession with my joy—teaching children respect for nature by means of outdoor education.

This now seemed no longer viable—I was a wreck, physically and mentally. Although I grew to accept my limitations and gained partial use of my hands over the next two years, the things I loved, such as writing, art and gardening, seemed to be out of reach.

I realised then that I had to become either a victim or a fighter—to live or merely survive—and it was then that the Bibbulmun Track came into my life. I read about it, and it spoke to my heart, turning out to be my way of coping, offering the long awaited solution that helped me to withdraw from pain-killing drugs, to deal with my chronic pain in different ways and to learn to write again. Walking on the Track allowed me to build up the muscle strength in my body and above all strengthening in me that which was weakest—my soul.

In retrospect it was an obvious solution to my pain—to be immersed in nature, removed from countless appointments, able to take my own time, creating space to let my thoughts range freely through my head and to creating a new life after the accident.

By walking on the Bibbulmun Track I found a way to achieve the hardest thing I needed to do—to get away from everything that had stopped me from growing again. Solitude is necessary so that healing can occur and I found everything I was longing for in the midst of the outstanding landscape that surrounds the Bibbulmun Track. Knowing I would reach a shelter every night, finding the way easily by following the yellow Waugal signs, consulting the detailed maps and guide books and passing occasionally through townships was exactly the safety net that I needed at the time.

Knowing that other hikers would cross my path was also a welcome thought, and it was also the spirit of the comradeship of fellow walkers that fed my soul. I met inspiring people from all walks of life, enjoyed their company and I cherish everything about them in my memory, especially the encouragement they offered during times of despair and difficulty, which strengthened me and helped me to keep going.

Hiking on the Bibbulmun Track has, beyond any doubt, enabled me to pick up the broken pieces of my former life and empowered me to actively build the resilience to create a new mosaic of past and present. I walked the entire Track in all its glory for the second time in 2010. I have found the Bibbulmun Track Foundation and its members to be a source of kindness and fellowship, and I have become a life member to express my eternal gratitude. Last but not least I have to say that without my beloved partner believing in me and without my outstanding therapist I may not have found the strength to embark on this wonderful journey—you too I thank with all my heart.

Brigita Ferencak

August 2014