Gone bushwalking

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The climb up had people gasping for breath but once you got to the top, the view was too spectacular to even remember the struggle.

By Pauline Mago-King

Can see the freeway and Kone below1

 

Bushwalking has always been a favourite pastime of mine simply because it allows me to be alone with my thoughts. I’m especially fond of it as it makes me feel like an explorer out in the wilderness.

There’s nothing but the greenery surrounding you and nature has a way of making it seem like the whole world has come to a standstill.

But as a woman living in the city of Port Moresby, I don’t really get to do a whole lot of exploring let alone trekking.

So imagine my surprise when I recently discovered there was an actual bushwalking group in Port Moresby.

Yes people, there is a voluntary bushwalking gang for those who love to trek!

I first stumbled across this group of bushwalkers emerging from the mountains of Taurama a few weeks ago.

They were clad in hiking clothes – you know the usual long pants, long sleeve shirts, boots, trekking poles and all.
Coincidently enough, I mentioned my observation to a workmate who was a frequent walker with the group and from there I was on my way to my first bushwalk.

The group, known as Port Moresby Bushwalkers, has been in operation for about 30 or 40 years with volunteers from all walks (pun intended) of life.

Burns peak route

There is a volunteer committee in place however no membership fee is required except for the K20 fee per walk to cover escorts.

Each second Sunday, there is a walking route planned.

Past routes have been to Mt. Eriama, Taurama Barracks, Boera, Sogeri and Varirata, just to name a few.

They range from a rating of easy to difficult but all encompass one common element – they give you a good workout.

However, it’s important to note that one should be fit and healthy enough to take part in these walks, after all it’s a voluntary activity.

And I don’t mean to frighten anyone but you need to assess your fitness and health as the walks are in remote areas where cars have no access.

For me, I thought I was quite fit considering the fact that I walk almost everywhere.

But I admit that I do need to step up my fitness game and this admission popped up during my first walk with the group last Sunday.

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Our bushwalking route was rated “hard” and rightfully so as it was from UPNG to the Yacht Club via undulating hills leading to the ridge line at Burns Peak and eventually downhill where we ended the walk at the Yacht Club.

The adventure began at the Yacht Club at 7:20a.m. for a briefing on security, weather and basically cross-checking of essentials like water, snacks and so on.

From there, our group of about 30 people got whisked away in two buses and before we knew it, the bush was at our beck and call.

In two lines we set off feeling resolute like we had a mission to accomplish.

We waded through thick grasslands in almost utter silence.

But every now and then you could hear people exchanging stories or exclaiming over the green scenery.

And when there was no talking, the air was filled with the sounds of twigs snapping and shoes stepping on dry crunchy leaves and the wet ground.

The sun was beating down hard but we all pressed on, eager to complete our journey.

Before long, we were confronted with quite a few rippling hills.

The climb up had people gasping for breath but once you got to the top, the view was too spectacular to even remember the struggle.

And I can tell you that the air never smelled so clean and pure.

Nature even became lenient on us with momentary breezes and cloud cover to make the walk more bearable.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t so much a breeze moving up and down the hills once rain fell midway through the walk.

If anything, it got tougher for some boots to hold their grip and we found ourselves slipping here and there.

Yet the moments of rest during the walk helped us to collect ourselves and gain some energy before setting off once more.

After what seemed like an eternity of being out in the open hills, we could finally see Town and the harbour just within our reach. And as if on cue, the sun reappeared as we made our way down the last hurdle of a mountain and out onto the main road of Konedobu.

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From there, it was just a stroll on the road until we arrived at the Yachty at 11:20a.m.

Altogether, we walked 8.8km, climbed 330m in height and descended 380m.

Now I know you’re probably thinking, why on earth would anyone want to put themselves through anything like that?

Well, people do it for different reasons.

Some do it simply for the enjoyment and the rush that comes with bushwalking while others just love being in the arms of nature.

“Perhaps other walkers have different reasons for joining the walk. But for me I am just an outdoor person generally and besides Moresby has little to do, so the bushwalk gives me the chance to go out and about,” said Paul Poloka, a frequent bushwalker.

Sure it may seem taxing and involve a lot of sweating but it’s the perfect opportunity to get to know and appreciate the natural surroundings of Port Moresby.

“[It’s] a great way to explore the great surroundings in and around Pom, beyond all the talk about security. A great way also to get closer to some local people, as we get locals to come with us on some walks,” commented Catherine Levi, a POM Bushwalker of four years. Plus, sometimes the group has walks from City Mission and afterwards return to get a tour of the premises to see the wonderful work being done by the mission.

And you’ll be happy to know that the K20 you pay for every walk does go a long way where at least once a year the club donates to City Mission.

So if you’ve got nothing to do every second Sunday, check out the Port Moresby Bushwalkers Facebook page and join them for an adventure.

You may just enjoy yourself and make a friend or two, I know I did.

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