Ruminate: climb or not climb, camp or not camp

Sometimes, all it takes is a one-word prompt to get us writing. Today’s Daily Post writing prompt: RUMINATE.

I HAD BEEN ruminating on the question ever since the peak came into view on rounding the western end of Cradle Mountain. Will I climb? Or pass it by? I mulled the question over as I followed the track until I came to the place where the climbing trail left the main track. Now… finally… I have to make a decision. I climbed.

I didn’t regret it and I had taken it carefully. No way would I want to have an accident on the steep side of the peak. There weren’t many people in the park at this time of year. I had seen only two people, a couple, during the day. That’s all. I didn’t know they would be the only people I would see until the last day of my walk later in the week. Yes, take it carefully I thought, an injury could be a lonely thing on the side of the mountain this time of year.

Old Waterfall Valley Hut on an earlier, group walk in Spring. The hut is typical of those built by the trappers, miners and cattlemen of the past. 

Usually, rumination did not accompany me in the mountains. Usually, I traveled with a group, unlike that week I traveled alone through the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in that in-between time when Spring is half-way through its run. When walking with a group there is some prearranged consensus about what will be climbed, what trail will be followed, where camp will be made. It is only when solo walking that I would experience rumination, which — let’s be honest —is another word for indecision.

Rumination was my companion on that walk along a deserted Overland Track. The walk in the time I write of, now several decades in the past, was usually completed in five days, allowing some side trips to nearby peaks. Then, there was none of the duckboarding that later turned what were muddy, saturated sections of boggy track into easy walking, elevated paths through the wilderness. Walking is faster now and while something of the wilderness experience has been lost, today’s walking is drier and easier.

But that rumination. I faced it again that same evening I decided to climb Barn Bluff, when I had to think about which hut I would stay at — the new or the old Waterfall valley hut? I chose the old as I came to that first. It’s smaller and darker inside than the nearby new hut. You could squeeze maybe eight into it. I ruminated again a couple days later when I had to decide on whether or not to diverge off the track to climb Pelion East. I climbed. Same again over whether to push on to the hut on the Narcissus River or stay in the forest hut a couple hours north of that.

Making such decisions and having the luxury to ruminate on them as you walk along the track is the province of the solo walker, but solo walking can be such an indecisive thing. You have to make decisions — yes or no, climb or pass by, camp here or there — and making decisions requires rumination, kilometer after kilometer of it.



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