Shredding The Balloon…

Many people have asked why the space between posts as the team was well on track to deliver one blog a week for the year. Well to be honest the team pushed themselves to the extreme the last couple of weeks and really found their limits both mentally and physically. What is something that they normally wouldn’t consider doing the team decided to challenge themselves and raise a little cash for a good cause at the same time. Enter the Oxfam Trailwalker Series. A bunch of hikes designed to raise money to combat poverty around the globe as well as test those participating in the walk.

To start with the fundraising model is actually quite smart ensuring that each team raises a certain amount of cash before they do the walk. Not to mention the entry fee you need to pay as well. So before you even start the walk you need to come up with $500 and once that’s done you need to raise $1600 before you can actually start walking. Anything on top of that is a bonus and the more you raise the more things become accessible to you. Like what you ask well to start with there’s names instead of numbers on your race bibs, the opportunity to have your own portaloo at each checkpoint, the chance to win a GPS device for your team. Oh did we mention it was a team based charity walk? Well it’s a team based event consisting of 4 team members which we’ll introduce to you over the next couple of chapters.

With two options in length, of the walk people! Come on we aren’t talking about wood so get your mind out of the Bunnings catalogue. It was only natural we’d pick the longer of the two as our superman complex kicked in and we saw a need to prove a point to the doubters in our world. So straight off the bat the 55km was scratch off the list and 100km was signed, sealed and, hopefully delivered. By the end of this blog you’ll see whether we actually made it or not. Now to pick a team of suitable pundits to embark on this silly journey with. Here’s where the hilarity ensued as we tried to screen suitable candidates. Our criteria wasn’t as strenuous as some of the interviews we’ve attended in the past consisting of two main criteria.

The first being that they need to be able to at least make the majority of the distance, the second being that we needed to be able to put up with them for an extended period of time up to 48hrs. So with the hunt for team mates well under way it wasn’t long before we filled our first slot. For privacy reasons we’ll call him the ‘Legal Beagle’, part super lawyer, part dad, he was an easy pick for the team given his natural fitness and ability to entertain with his random fun facts. He is often referred to as Captain Google in close friend circles. The Beagles analytical nature and want to win all the time made the number pick in the draft to walk with, pun possibly intended there we aren’t 100% sure.

As the weeks dragged closer and closer it looked highly unlikely that we would be entering the walk as the Beagle and Boss struggle to find the third and fourth members of their team. No foursome meant no walk and no walk would mean, well they would both have a weekend to do whatever they damn liked without having to stress out about how they would make it through 100kms of walking. As other teams grew around them the twosome wondered whether they would indeed to the walk. Alas someone heard their pleas and came to their rescue. In the aid of what would be two unlikely heroes we’ll call them the Receptionist and the Accountant fitting names to round out the team.

In what sounds like a group of misfit vigilantes ready to keep the criminals off the streets of Brisbane the team of walkers were formed. Each one brought something different to the team, each one had a unique character that would come out and entertain the others at some point during the 100km walk. There would be moments throughout the walk in which they would need to lean on one another, draw strength and most all encourage each other to continue putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until they reached the finishing line. So with the team now assembled, they began training, well the majority did the Boss was a little busy re-living yesteryear on the hockey pitch and isn’t the biggest fan of early mornings walk around a mountain.

Lists were made, provisions purchased, maps read and supplies stockpiled. Many a review was read about the best shoes, walking poles, power gels, hydration and packs before they were purchased and apartment tested for the big day. So back to the two newest members of the squad the receptionist well he’s a character all in himself. He’s a contradiction of a man who loves fine things and yet has hippyish free spirit about him that fights with his want to be rich and have nice things. The accountant on the other hand seems to like to have a little bit of fun, enjoys a drink or two but has his head screwed on. So while the Boss frolicked around the hockey field the rest of the team trained most weekends in preparation for the walk.

With two of the team having already attempted to complete the 100km beast, there were no illusions about how hard it was going to be. But there is a difference between knowing something is going to be hard and actually experiencing just how hard it is. Which was a lesson that all team would learn over the of the 2nd last weekend in June. They would each have a different build up to the day but they would bind together once they started on a journey that would be mind changing and mind blowing well for some of them, that’s the thing with experiences and journeys everyone takes something different from them. They walk awaying with something that is everlasting, always a memory that they can reflect back on in years to come.

As the morning dawned the team were all up early and preparing to take on the challenge as best they could. Running late the Boss and the Beagle missed breakfast after planning a Maccas coffee and McMuffin but instead had to settle on a petrol station sausage rolls and pies. Discussing this down the track with the Legal Beagle it may have led to some complications for the Boss during the walk which provided the team with a lot of laughs throughout the walk but we’ll get to that later down the line and no doubt introduce you all to the wonderful world of walking. Walking you say that’s easy well that’s what our four friends thought before that buzzer sounded at 8:30am on Friday the 21st of June.

The team were a little delayed and ended at the back of the pack with plenty of people to wade past on there way to the finish line. This was due to the receptionist come Team leader giving a command despite the teams questioning of said command. So they finally crossed the start line and began a game that would last all day and through the night. Little did they know this game would actually spur them on and lift their spirits at the lowest of times throughout the walk. Along with the Boss’s need for a tune or two about walking or with walking lyrics and they were set with fun and games. If you throw in the Legal Beagle’s love of a good statistic or knowledge dump about science then they had the entertainment portion of the walk covered.

Set in amongst the national parks and reserves of Brisbane’s Mt Glorious, Mt Nebo and Mt Cootha the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker is like being on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight well at least that’s how it’s been described to us. Taking a look at the topographical maps we can see that there are a fair few hills to ascend and descend along the route with some dramatic changes in altitude as you start your walk through D’Aguilar National Park and wind your way towards Lake Manchester but before we get there we’ll give you an insight into the mindset and bodies of the team as they trek to waypoint three which is just under half way (45km). To start with the team were setting a cracking pace between the startline and checkpoint one walking a very decent clip of 6km p/hr.

Making their way to checkpoint two they were still setting a reasonable pace and had worked out they were faster up the hills than going down them. The minds were still strong and the legs were feeling great, spirits were high as they entered their second checkpoint for the day passing by a happy volunteer dressed as Zorro, with a foam finger motioning them towards the checkpoint, well we think it was Zorro but then again dehydration may have started to set in. They could fill up on water, get some food and recharge for a couple of minutes before setting out on the trail again. It was at this point that things started to get interesting for the Boss and hilarious for the rest of the team. Just a kilometer past the check the Boss started sweating profusely, yes the hills were strenuous but this was something else entirely.

Gut cramps wreaked havoc as he staggered along the trail. His team mates a little concerned at the amount of sweat pouring out of him. Finding a tree he urinated relieving some tension on his stomach but it still wasn’t enough another 500 meters down the track and he was wrench with more gut craps. Within seconds he was on the side of the track pants around his ankles releasing the demons from within. The nausea and pain he’d been feeling were now replaced by the pungent smell that covered the ground below him that he quickly tried to cover up with biodegradable baby wipes after cleaning his bottom. Oh and you thought this was over it was the beginning of what was dubbed the “Gascapades” and a severe case of swamparse. Feeling better well moderately better he trudged on with the rest of the team embarrassed and ashamed of what he’d just done.

With checkpoint three insight and the legs starting to tire, blisters and bruising starting to grace their feet the team strode into the checkpoint well ahead of the time they thought they would. The dinner was the best thing they’d had to eat in a long time and who would have thought a simple tuna pasta bake could taste so delicious. The Boss had rekindled his love of Tuna and the team were energized and ready to continue what was now starting to feel like a vietnamese concentration camp death march. Three BBB cream was applied to prevent chafe and aid those who already had chafe, massages were given, blisters lanced and water refilled. Off into the night they set head torches lighting the way as they stumbled towards the finish line.

With tired legs, chaffed arse cheeks, blistered feet and a range of other ailments the team found the second half hard going but surprises were a foot and swamparse, so was the methane power needed to get them up and down the hills. As they crossed a small creek a slithering friend reared its head as the accountant stepped right over it, kicked it and then ran for the hills while the receptionist decided to play Steve Irwin and attempt to flick the snake away. The rest of the team skirted around it as quickly as possible before the little slithering snake could take a chunk out of them or poison them. Although at the time they were probably hoping the snake would bite them and put them out of their misery.

Checkpoints passed and water packs were refilled filled, delirium began to set in and the Boss was not making a lot of sense as they stumbled along into the darkness. Foot after foot they continued minds and bodies fighting with one another. The body slowly getting ready to keel over at the first possible option and assume the fetal position. The mind willing on the body to finish to reach that finish line to cross the pain barrier and achieve something that people didn’t think they could or would achieve. As morale dimmed they leant on each other to provide a boost to the team that was sorely needed. Along with the cuppa soups and hot chocolates the sugar boosts were helping push the team along.

With the sun beginning to rise they climbed the last peak of the hike. The excitement grew knowing that once they reached the summit it was all downhill into the finish line. At least they could all roll downhill to make it home. According to the team whilst there was excitement that they were going to make it to the finish line and actually walk 100km in under 24 hours there was still the pain and ongoing internal struggle. Silence washed over the team as they ascended the peak and descended down the other side. A euphoria washing over them as they saw the finish line below, the green of the inflatable line like the lushest grass they had ever seen and actual grass. The shoes would be coming off and the wet grass felt between their toes.

Twenty three hours and twelve minutes later they had completed a course of 100km that wound up and down mountains, across creeks, over uneven terrain, having to use ropes and deal with both physical pain and mental pain including blisters, chafing, bruising and muscular cramping. When asked later what the toughest part of the walk was most of the walkers would agree it was the mental fight with themselves. The internal struggle of whether to give in to the pain or put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Whether to keel over and just sleep where their body fell the cold engulfing them as they rocked themselves to sleep. Literally what happened to most of the team once they made it home and had a shower.

So as we tally up the walk on an individual level there were over 25 litres of water consumed, over 8 sandwiches, 8 coffees, 2 cuppa noodle soups, 2 energy gels, half a box of glucose tablets, 5 muesli bars, a couple of bags of lollies and two bowls of Tuna pasta bake with croutons. That’s how much food was consumed on an individual level by each member of the not so funny titled team of Four Guys one Trek, some may of eaten more than others and some may have had more gut cramps and had to the crap on the side of the trail more than others. They had made it! The physical pain was over for the time being until delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) kicked in a couple of days later. They joy and elation felt as they crossed the finish line mixed in with other emotions.

As we close this chapter of A Mind of Its Own we take our hats off to the boys and the effort to raise some funds for a good cause and soldier on through 100km of torment. Those physical and mental pain barriers that were pushed through, the self doubt, the self loathing and self chafing. Well done guys, it’s an achievement and one done in a great time with a great bunch of blokes who pushed each other through to the end. If you are looking for a challenge and a good way to raise some money we recommend you look into doing this or just jump on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight.

Staring at the Stars…

Why on earth would you even attempt to do that? A question that reverberated around the non-existent walls of A Mind of Its Owns writers pen. The team was doing a little research for this weeks post when we came across an article written for National Geographic regarding the death of an American. We know Americans die everyday, so what was so special about this one that it peaked our interest? Well it wasn’t the American so much but what he was doing and where he was doing it that lead to his untimely demise that caught our attention and lead to further investigation (Googling) by the team.

In a high speed, low drag world where literally everything can be connected it’s hard to imagine life without modern technology. There are those that are preparing for a Cyberdyne like fall of the world where the robots take over and we need to send the former governor of California back in time to protect or kill the future leader of the resistance depending on which movie you refer to. For those reading that are unfamiliar with the reference go and find a copy of the terminator movies and you’ll know what we are no about it here. Now back to the tracks we were chugging down so stead fast before that little detour.

A world without technology, no phone, no gps, no email, no social media! Heaven right! Well we know some of you are thinking it! We certainly are! There is no way the boss could harass us to prepare anything for a deadline if we can’t be found or contacted. But a place like this in modern society? Does it exist? Well to answer that question in one word… Yes but how you ask? Well in actually fact there are a couple of remaining remote tribes and by remote they are in places that a lot of people have failed to venture or have tried and failed. These tribes have populated these locations for 100’s of years if not more. They are so used to their surroundings they know every inch of the earth they walk. They also know when someone doesn’t belong, as the main protagonist of this blog soon found out.

Untouched for over 55,000 years North Sentinel island is where this little doozy of a story, albeith true takes place. Enter out protagonist Mr John Chau an American missionary who set out to introduce Christianity to the earth’s most stone age tribe. Its at this point we’ll point out that At A Mind of Its Own holds no religious beliefs nor do we condone the killing or persecution of any religious beliefs either. We are stating facts and the views portrayed in this blog are ours and ours only. We do not wish or mean any offence that people may read into throughout this blog.

So Mr Chau set out to help push our stone age friends towards the faith and words of the lord jesus our saviour in the eyes of so many around the world. Hiring some local fishing talent from the nearby Andaman & Nicobar Islands they dropped him into the shallows of North Sentinel Island, watched him wade ashore before he was cut down in his prime by a shower of arrows. Yes ladies and gentle arrows and not those fired by today’s latest and greatest composite bows hunters use. We a talking about made from wood and bird feathers fired from a branch of a tree that has been turned into a bow. Wearing little more than a loincloth Mr Chau’s would be murderers stalked there way from the island jungle onto the beach and arrowed him down in cold blood.

A lot of you at this point are thinking that it is quite a barbaric act cutting someone down in their prime for wanting to spread the word of christ, however it is no different to someone gunning down a would be robber breaking into your house. May just seem a little more barbaric due the ancient weaponry involved. It is after all trespassing on someone’s land. This certain someone just happened to be a tribe who have remained untouched by the modern world for centuries. Largely undocumented mainly due to their aggression and disdain for outsiders. Over the years many have tried to document the tribe and bring them into the modern world through dropping toys and random gifts on the shores. Sadly Mr Chau isn’t the only person who has bought the farm trying to make contact with this tribe.

So who are the Sentinelese and where did they originate from? Thought to be over 30,000 years old the tribe that occupies North Sentinel Island has remained largely untouched. Know for there aggression to the outside world it is not a surprise that Mr Chau’s death is yet another in a string of deaths of outsiders venturing to the island in attempts to make contact with this remote tribe. While Mr Chau’s death is a tragedy it does raise a lot of questions as to how and why he thought he would be so different from those that have gone before him? The Islands inhabitants are notorious for firing on fisherman who venture too close and have been known to have killed explorers and adventurers in the past.

The biggest question it raises is why do we continually feel we need to change what is different. This tribe has survived for thousands of years without western medicine, believes, society and influences. Over the years we have tried to change that and it’s only through the tribes continued aggression towards the outside world that they have managed to fight off the advancements of the western world. There is nothing to prove we would be doing them a favour by introducing technology, religion and so forth. In fact we are more likely to bring disease and death with us, things this remote tribe have managed to avoid over the years due to the remoteness of the island and once again their hostility to the outside world.

We take our hat off to the tribe for not being more curious and wondering what else is out there, the elders if they operate in that sort of system have done a great job in continuing the traditions handed down through the generations and ensuring the ways of the island continue as they have since the tribe arrived there. Whenever that was, where ever it was from. Thought to have originated somewhere in Africa after all it does sit as part of the cradle of civilisation, the tribe which no doubt has seafaring knowledge, we are taking a guess here but just looking at a map would tell you they didn’t just fall from the sky and land in the middle of the indian ocean on a remote island.

In the mind’s eye or the eyes of A Mind of its Own we feel they should be left to go about things the way they have always done. It is not a right that we change how people live. They have survived this long without us and will continue to survive without us. So let’s not influence something that has flourished for generations because it is our incessant need to improve or change that which we don’t understand. Whilst Mr Chau’s vision of spreading christianity was a noble cause he believed in, religion is said to be responsible for a lot of wars in fact the war on terror has become a religious war based on a few bad eggs who have extremist views of a book written centuries ago.

Who’s to say what is write or wrong, nations were founded on invaders coming in and taking over lands but look how that’s worked out for all of us. It is in our opinion that being humans we are often curious. Great discoveries have been founded by inquisition and many of our great minds wanting to understand the who, what, where and why of it all. That still doesn’t give us a right to change things for others. Sure if asked for helped then yes it would be ok but when outward aggression is shown, march yourself back down the beach and swim for that boat you got off and leave the natives alone. While some readers may agree, others won’t and that is ok. Opinions are opinions and everyone is entitled to them as long as you don’t try and push them on others. Open debate and discussion are fine but as soon as you start to push something on people its a step too far in our eyes.

Staring at the stars we think you’ve got our view on the subject. We feel it’s not ok to change and influence the Sentinelese but as we just said that’s our opinion. We don’t condone murder but perhaps a little more research and thought from Mr Chau may see him alive today. The Indian government have been urged not to try and retrieve his body which we kind of agree with. The likelihood of others getting injured or killed is exteremly high. The Sentinelese being gunned down an unable to repel modern military is also high. Whatever there secrets are theres and theirs alone. We need to respect that and leave them to continue as they are. Unspoilt and untouched by modern society.

Enough said from the team here, if you are interested in hearing more about the Sentinelese head on over to our good friends at google and use your noggins. There is little known about them but what is know is interesting and looking at all those who have tried to understand more about them is also quite a little adventure if you’re looking for something to kill time with rather than playing candy crush. Till next time, why don’t you be you and we’ll be us and everyone can be happy. From the team here at the world’s premium blogspot, welcome to the last month of the year! Thank heavens we need a holiday from real!