Friday, 3 March 2017

The Black Dog

This is something I've been wanting to address for a little while now, and after my recent failed attempt at the Chenye Range, I feel spurred on to write this post now.

I've been feeling stressed and anxious of late. I recognise it started when I went up to Mt Oakleigh with the goal of also doing the Pelion West Traverse in November. Long story short, the issue is this: I have set myself this goal, to try to climb all the Abels before my 25th birthday. As of now, it is still just an achievable goal (if the weather doesn't do anything curly). However, I am becoming increasingly more critical of myself, and the reasons I am doing it. It is not a competition; I wanted to do it for the pure enjoyment of bushwalking, while at the same time achieving something that I personally think is pretty cool. I have begun to question if I am doing it for the 'right' reasons. It shames me to admit, but on recent occasion, I have secretly thought it would be an easy decision to make if I had for instance, a broken leg. I wouldn't be able to continue as planned.

So you may ask, "Why not just take a little longer, put it on the back-burner for a while?" And that is a very good point. So here are my two options.
          1.) Take it easy for a while. Don't stress about trying to achieve the goal if it isn't making me happy in the moment. If I do this, however, I know I will regret it in the long run. I know I will feel upset with myself for not pushing through to try to successfully do what I set out to do. So this option would be short term respite, but possible long term regret.
          2.) Go hell for leather now, and finish the Abels by the original time I set myself. This option wold possibly mean I wouldn't enjoy myself as much, which is far from the original reason I set out to climb all these 158 magnificent mountains. However, I know I would feel immense satisfaction at doing something I really set my mind to.

The other day I went to Headspace to talk to someone impartial to the whole situation. The lady I saw gave me some good advise on how to be more mindful when I am out walking. This would help in those situations where I felt like I was rushing for no sake, and let me ground myself in the environment. I was grateful for this, because I always found bushwalking to be somewhat meditative, allowing my mind to wander and not be caught up on anything. Whereas now, it is always thinking about the next mission, or planning logistics, or worrying about the weather etc. She also said to make a decision on my values, rather than how I want to feel right now (this was in response to the two options stated above).

So I am stuck on the fence at the moment. I don't want to give it all up right now, especially as I feel like I've put my life on hold and wholly dedicated myself to this for the last 13 months. Will I try to achieve the original goal? I don't know. Hopefully. Every adventurer faced adversity in some respect, maybe this is mine. Will I climb all the Abels? One way or another, I will. Will I get lose my passion for bushwalking? No, I don't believe it will negatively effect my love of a good walk. Many of the walks I have done since first noticing the issue I have loved! i.e. The Eldons, Mt Anne.

I realise this is a drop in the ocean of an issue compared to what some people go through with their mental health. I have always stood for talking openly about issues stemmed from depression and anxiety, so I am writing this post as much to alert people to what is going on in my head, as well as to open a discussion. Brains a weird.

Life's a beach.

47 left.



  1. whatever you decide best of luck zane, also, i failed at the cheyne range as well :( for now :)

  2. A good reason for the right decision will happen at the right time for a good reason. Xx

  3. This challenge has so far been extra difficult. Last summer... Bushfires cutting access ...Then rain snow and more rain right through Spring! You have done so marvellously well and we Grandparents are very proud of you! Good luck and Blessings in your

  4. Hi Zane,

    So the goal of doing so much sustained bushwalking in a year and a half, and enjoying every bit of it on the way, has shown itself to be unattainable. Somehow that doesn’t really surprise, and so you find yourself with two options.

    While neither is ideal, both options are good options at this point, and perhaps it doesn’t matter which you choose.

    There’s no disgrace in slowing it down a bit (option 1) rather than being pressured to finish it in before the winter. So what if you are 25.5 years old when you finish, or 26? Your achievement will still be outstanding, you can still be immensely proud of what you’ve done, you’ll still have great memories. And the record you’ve set will doubtless stand for a long time, until inevitably someone with even greater physical and mental strength manages to knock it off one time.

    But pushing through (option 2) is also fine. You may not enjoy much of the bushwalking to come because of the mental pressure, but the pride you can take from single-mindedly pursuing a very difficult objective and actually achieving it will make up for it. You may need to take a long break from bushwalking when you’re done, but can return and do the walks again another time for the pure enjoyment.

    Why not take a week’s break, freshen up, and try with option 2? Then if you find the black dog is still there, take a longer break and go with option 1.

    Whatever you choose, try to walk with partners whose presence lifts your spirits. Also know that you have followers of your blog out there who are vicariously living your adventures, getting inspiration through then, and wishing you all the best on every hike, and ultimate success on your quest!

  5. Hi Zane,

    I have climbed only 43 Abels. It would have been 44 ( Hyperion) if I had a person as yourself with me at 1415m stuck in a chute up the SE approach no one else in our party wanted to climb it I was frustrated so can understand yours.

    I love reading your posts and looking at your photos (wondering where the photo was taken etc or how you traversed walks so quickly I.e. Eldons

    What are the remaining peaks? Maybe do a blog on the last 40 or so to get some input from others about routes. Finishing in the winter could be hard!

    One thing guaranteed is the unpredictable which is bound to delay some trips. Your blogs have become one of those great books I've read which I deliberatley read slowly at the end as I want to prolong the experience.

    Take your time and have a break. Winter in tas can be very tough
    Good luck and stay safe

    Yours Anthony

    1. Hi Anthony!

      Thank you so much for your comment, it means a lot to hear from people who read my ramblings :)

      I have recently made a final decision on my approach to Abeling. There will be a new post addressing that tonight!

      Hyperion is an amazing mountain, and one I can't wait to get back to! But that last section is a bit hair-raising indeed! I'm sure you'll get to the summit soon :)

      P.S. 43 is a great Abel count! Keep exploring!

      Cheers, and peace.