OPINION

Four-hour walk a real stretch after isolation inactivity

The scenery at the end was worth it (sort of).
The scenery at the end was worth it (sort of).

It's the June Long Weekend and the world is peeking out from under the COVID-19 doona, blinking in the light.

While things aren't (and may never be) back to normal, restrictions are loosening and many will be back doing the usual long weekend things - camping, eating with friends, going for bushwalks.

Which leads me to my point: don't let the time in isolation lead you to underestimate the danger of these activities. And I'm not talking about the spread of the virus. I'm telling you, unaccustomed activity can be painful.

Last weekend, my husband and I headed out for a two-hour bushwalk which accidentally became a four-hour bushwalk and my legs are still recovering.

It took me two days to be able to put my shoes on or pick things up off the floor.

Others have spent isolation getting fit and doing yoga videos, while I've spent it on my arse writing on a laptop.

When your legs are at right angles to your back for hours every day, all the muscles at the front of your hips get short and tight, and the ones in your lower back get long and weak.

Just knowing this doesn't make it stop happening when you still have work to do (and I can't work from my hammock all the time - I mean, sometimes it rains).

So, back to the accidental trek.

It all began because hundreds of others had the same idea we did on the last sunny Sunday in autumn, and headed for a scenic track nestled in the side of a mountain.

The problem with that is that there is only space for about ten cars in the little dirt carpark, with a few spilling out dangerously onto the narrow mountain roadside.

Short of parking on the edge of a cliff, we had to find somewhere else to walk.

This led to the first unwise turning point in a series of unwise turning points.

We chose a long, flat walk that had the advantage of being on the way to our daughter, whom we needed to fetch later that afternoon.

The disadvantages were that neither of us had walked it before, it was too obscure a track to have things like signs and maps at the start, and our phone reception was too dodgy to download that information, even if we had been concerned enough to bother.

No, it began blithely, with me stopping every hundred metres to gush over the lushly blooming banksias. What an innocent fool I was, back there at the start.

It was a lovely walk, I'm not complaining.

Despite being largely flattish and on the edge of what can be a windy plateau, it was varied and delightful, with scrubby bush giving way to towering eucalypts and vibrant tree ferns.

But it was a long, long way to the turn off that was to take us to the top of a waterfall, which is generally considered to be the point of the walk.

To begin with, my attitude was that we could just turn back when time ran out and save the waterfall for another day.

But then, in a moment of shaky 3G, our daughter messaged us and asked if we could come later. Google Maps came through for us and we worked out how far we'd come. We looked at each other and shrugged.

We were closer to the end than the beginning, at this point, and we felt fine.

We pressed on. You can guess the rest.

While the scenery at the waterfall was spectacular (see photo), at that point my feet were starting to complain - I hadn't even worn socks. Don't laugh - I just wasn't expecting a walk of this magnitude.

But we faced a two hour walk back to the car and my hips were getting sore.

We started walking back, trailing the whole way behind another group of middle-aged walkers whose limps were getting more pronounced the more we trekked on.

The afternoon was softening to shadows and our conversation had dried up - all my energy was going into moving my legs.

I was practically gritting my teeth for the last hour or so, picturing the tiny muscles in my pelvis vibrating with strain. (I'm not sure I really have the whole visualising thing working in my favour.)

Moral to the story? Don't rush back out into the world. Take your time. And make sure you stretch.