After I left Bronnagh and her family, I went to Melbourne to visit my friend Jed. We went camping in the Cathedral Ranges, which was super gorgeous, but I am silly and forgot my camera. The trails there are definitely tough, and one day we decided to go on a very hard trail. We thought that very hard meant the usual “very hard”: plenty of steep trails with some big rocks. Actually, “very hard” in the Cathedral Ranges means basically free soloing with some sort-of caving in there too. Once we got halfway up the trail, we literally COULD NOT go down. All around us were memorials for people who had died there in the past. Needless to say, it was bit nerve-wracking. However, we survived (obviously), and I would TOTALLY go back there in a heartbeat. It was so fun!
Catch-up Time! June 5, 2012
As you may have noticed, I have fallen MASSIVELY behind with my blogging. Since I don’t feel like spending heaps of time writing long, involved essays that detail every minute of my life (not that you would really want to read that, either), I’m just going to post a few pictures of the more notable events that have occurred, except for my holiday travels during term break. I’ll put up pictures and stories of that in a little while. And hopefully it will be a little while.
So when I left off, I was being attacked by a giant glowing-eyed monster thing. Turns out, monster thing was a horse. Also, said horse was apparently in a totally separate paddock from us. Awks. Despite realizing that we weren’t about to be trampled by a rouge beast-creature, we were all still terrified. It was STILL pitch black and foggy, and dead cars and barbed wire surrounded us. ’Twas a bit dodgy to say the least. Finally, though, we hopped one last barbed wire fence (Dom ended up slicing his hand open, but the boy’s a champ and ran through it) and made it to the road where we booked it for about four kilometers before deciding no serial killers were after us and slowing to a walk. It was only 6am and the sky was still dark.
We continued walking/ running for the next, oh, hour or so. It was fairly uneventful until the sun began to rise. Fog still surrounded us, but the sky shifted from black-blue to this gentle, soft peach color that spread throughout the fog. Sun glinted off spiderwebs and droplets of water gleamed like jewels. It was like walking in fairy-land. I have no pictures of it, and to be honest, I doubt a photograph could capture even one-eighth the beauty of that sunrise. Ben, Dom, Conor, and I were all overcome by the sense of serenity. Its a sunrise I will never forget. Words fail me.
We continued running and walking for the next five and a half hours. It was, not uneventful, but eventful in small ways that do not translate well to word. The phrase “You had to be there” is extremely apt. Suffice to say, those hours were filled with extreme laughter over jokes both silly and bawdy, excruciating pain, gossip, GUs, terrible singing, and lots and lots of running. I talked about trees. My teammates talked about things other than trees. We missed a turn and did a short back track. I accidentally peed in someone’s lawn. Dom saved my life with some Burger Rings (I desperately needed some salt). We ran some more.
The thing with an event like this is its hours of the same thing which can be endlessly interesting to the runner but…less so to those reading. If I’m failing your desire for obscene detail, let me know and I will be glad to talk to you and fill your ears with EVERY LITTLE THING. Including details about my chafing. For the time being, I shall just say that it was in a place you never, EVER want chafing. EVER.
Finally, 10-ish hours after we were dropped off, Bruce Hall Division Two finished IB. And what a finish it was. Just as we reached endpoint, we saw another team so we SPRINTED to the finish. I thought I was going to die. I’m not a strong sprinter to begin with, so this was extra painful. The team we beat wasn’t even in our division, but it was worth it.
Finishing IB was one of the best experiences of my life. We sprinted down a long line of screaming, cheering people, and when I finally stopped and got to take off my shoes (OMG SO AMAZING), there were some of my best friends screaming my name, just as ecstatic as I was that I had made it. It was glorious.
However, reaching endpoint did not mean I could just relax. I mean, I could, and everyone was more than happy to do absolutely ANYTHING for me, including finding Dom, Ben, Conor, and I a tub filled with ice water to soak our feet…or rather, dunk our feet in and the pull them out screaming about the cold. I think the record was two minutes by yours truly. A large portion of my endpoint experience can be better explained through pictures, so prepare yourself for PICTURE OVERLOAD. Well, okay, five or six pictures since they take FOREVER to find and upload and I am lazy.
My team had a fairly easy time compared to the other Bruce teams. Most teams (from all colleges/residence halls) didn’t finish and had to be picked up. Waiting for other teams was one of the most nerve-wracking times of my life. I cried when the final teams came. Our Div 3 was the last Bruce team to come in and I basically almost sobbed as I hugged my fellow Brucies. I was so nervous that something had happened and someone had gotten permanently injured. However, all ended well and everyone made it back, relatively safe and sound. I eneded up with one very, VERY sore knee, massive oozing sores on my back from my pack (still have faint scars), and a rather sore body overall. However, I can safely say that Inward Bound was one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life. And I can’t wait to do another ultramarathon, much to my parents’ chagrin.
Inward Bound! April 25, 2012
So, I know this is heaps late, but I have been so busy that I just didn’t have time to update, and then I was on holiday for two weeks with no computer, so I couldn’t update then. Please excuse me. But anyway, as you can probably tell, this post is all about one of the most amazing night/day of my life. It was also one of the toughest and most painful, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Right now, I’ll just do a bit of a run-down of Inward Bound.
If you don’t know the premise, each team, which consists of four individuals, is dropped off in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night with no idea how they got there. We’re given the co-ordinates of the endpoint and an estimation of how far we are from endpoint, and have to figure out where we are and how to get to the end using only a bunch of maps and a compass. There are 8 divisions, 1-7i, although 7 and 7i run the same distance from the same place. Div 1 runs longest, 7 and 7i run the shortest. I was in Div 2, and was expected to run about 90 kilometers. Here’s a handy-dandy link to learn more about the event. And here’s a picture of me with my team (and a bunch of Brucies) before we left.
From left, Connor, Ben, Dom, me! I’m not even going to try and list all the other Brucies.
But anyway, more about the actual event. I got on the bus at 9:30pm with all the other Div 2 teams, of which I think there were about seven, put on our blindfolds, and sat. And sat and sat and sat. We had two bathroom breaks during which I still wasn’t allowed to take my blindfold off, and let me tell you, peeing in the woods with a blindfold on is a little bit weird because you don’t have nearly the balance you normally do. However, I managed to go without any major disasters. At about 1am, we finally got off the bus and finally took off our blindfolds. Since I was a scout, I darted off in one direction and the other scout ran off in the other. Even though I had a headlamp, it was so foggy that I could barely see more than five meters. Nevertheless, I found a few key landmarks and got back to my team. After a brief debate, made easier by the discovery that the other direction was flooded, we scampered off. And by scamper I mean we plodded along at pace that can be maintained for 12+ hours of running.
Now, the thing about IB is that you don’t have to run on roads if you don’t want to, and sometimes, a little bit of bush-bashing can cut off upwards of 20k (12.4 miles). So, with that in mind, our amazing nav Ben (seriously, the man is a genius), found a route that would involve cutting across some state forest land and ending up near some houses. The route ends up involving hopping a few barbed wire fences, but those are easily surpassed. Then, suddenly, we’re surrounded by barbed wire fences, it’s pitch black out with so much much fog that we can barely see more than a meter in front of us, and a house rears up, seemingly out of nowhere. And this is not your average farmhouse. I’m not sure if it was the hour (5am), the weather, or what, but this house was dead dodgy. And there’s a bathtub in the field next to us. It has the distinct feel of a horror movie, and I’m waiting for a guy with a chainsaw to jump out and murder. Then, suddenly, I see a pair of green glowing eyes RIGHT NEXT TO US and hear the terrifying sound of galloping hooves coming RIGHT TOWARDS US. I don’t think I’ve ever run as fast as I did just then, dashing madly away. It was, quite honestly, the most terrifying moment of my life.
And that’s all for now. I’m dead tired, and I’ll write more tomorrow. Or the next day. But fear not, I will tell you all.
Busy Beyond Belief. March 6, 2012
So some of you might be wondering, “Why does that Darcy never update her blog?” Well, as the title might indicate, I am currently ridiculously busy. Between making friends, running, and this thing called studying, I am so tired that I pretty much just FALL into bed each night. It is quite terrible. But anyway, an update on my ever-exciting Canberra life. We’ll go in stages.
1. Running: This is pretty much what my life revolves around right now. So if you think running is absolutely insane, you might want to skip over this bit, because you are absolutely correct. Running is insane, especially the race I’m training for. In a little over three weeks, I will be running approximately 80k, or about 50 miles. With no idea of where I’ve started. In the dark. With a pack on. In one day. Actually, preferably under twelve hours. Here’s a link to the website if you want to check it out: http://interhallsports.anu.edu.au/IB/welcome.html.
For those of you who would rather do heroin than run IB (as my race is commonly referred to), I have to tell you, the training is unbelievably fun. I’ve made some amazing friends AND rediscovered my love of running. Even better, I see kangaroos on almost every single run.
Here I am on an IB run. I’m the short girl in the middle in the green shirt. We ran to the dam that’s about 5ish miles from campus. It was overflowing due to the MASSIVE amount of rain that we’ve had of late. Oh my gosh I forgot to tell you about the rain!
Ok, so, it rained, solidly, for about a week here. EVERYTHING FLOODED. It was awful. My room STILL smells like wet running clothes, and I’ve been airing it out for the past two days. Here’s a link to pictures of some of the flooding: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2010/12/09/3088838.htm. We’ve gotten more rain in the past ten days that they sometimes get in two months. But anyway, enough about the Biblical amount of rain.
2. Friends: I know this sounds surprising, but I’ve been making friends! I love pretty much everyone I’ve met here. The social scene is a little different than PSU, in that you get really close with your hall. Instead of joining a bunch of clubs and making your friends through them, you do sports and activities with your residence hall. Not that there aren’t clubs (I am part of the ANU Mountaineering Club), but its definitely more Hall oriented. Instead of having a bunch of dining halls to visit whenever you like, you only eat at your hall’s dining area. Its great, since instead of expending loads of energy texting friends and trying to organize dinner, I can eat whenever I like and ALWAYS find someone to eat with. Plus, Bruce (my hall) has really amazing food.
Here I am with some of the friends I’ve made. We’re pretty cute. From left: Bronnagh, Me, Ruohan, and Michelle. We’re chilling in the Junior Common Room, which is pretty much the “come and hang out” room.
3. School: My parents will be leaping with joy to read this. I do actually spend a fair amount of time on school stuff. I’m taking three forestry classes and an Australian history class. All my Aussie friends are appalled that I actually seem to be enjoying my history class, since to them Australia has the most boring history. However, I find it fascinating that they managed to create a country without waging a war, especially since America has been fighting someone for almost the entirety of its history.
I’m finding my forestry classes fascinating. I’m taking Managing Forested Ecosystems, Biodiversity Conservation in Modified Landscapes, and Ecological Restoration and Management. My classes have a very diverse student makeup, quite different from my forestry classes at PSU. Back home, most of my fellow students were from PA with a forestry background, and most were male. Here, my classes are about half male, half female, and there are students from all over the world: Tibet, America (me), China, Papua New Guinea, and more. Hearing all the different perspectives on conservation and forestry is definitely eye-opening.
That’s all I have time for now, as I must head off to class, but I will do my best to keep updating.
Class Time February 21, 2012
I just had my first two days of classes, and I have to admit, it was nice to get back into the swing of academia. I am also beyond exhausted (loooong run tonight), so I will keep this short.
I love my classes so far, especially my forestry related ones (I’m taking Managing Forested Ecosystems, Ecological Restoration and Management, Biodiversity Conservation in Forested Landscapes, and Australian History. I may switch out of that one, though, if I can’t get it to count as one of the relatively few general education requirements I have left). All my forestry classes have field work, although not as frequent as my classes at Penn State. We haven’t really covered any actual material, but I still had fun. The accents probably helped.
The class schedule is definitely different here, and it is taking some time to get used to. First off, you have to build your own timetable. When you register for classes, there is nothing preventing you from scheduling classes at the exact same time. Most professors do tape their lectures to help with this, but I am still so confused how people can actually keep two classes that run at the same times. I would be totally lost if I had to consistently miss my lectures. Furthermore, there is no designated amount of time between classes. My one class goes from 11am to noon, and my next class is from noon to 1pm. Fortunately they are in the same room, and most professors give you five minutes leeway, but as someone used to it taking at fifteen minutes to sprint from class to class, this can be a bit unnerving.
As I mentioned a bit earlier in this post (I may have lied about keeping this short), I went for a run today with a bunch of people from my hall. We’re training for Inward Bound, this super awesome race in which you are dropped at an undisclosed locaiton in the middle of hte night and then have to navigate your way back using a map and compass. On our run, I saw about fifteen kangaroos. I, of course, proceed to freak out, definitely not squeal, flail, almost fall on my face, and generally do a fantastic job of presenting myself as a competent and normal American. However, I would just like to point that I am utterly unaccustomed to kangaroos and they are a very interesting animal. We also saw a fox eating a rabbit, which was super interesting since both are huge pests in Australia, although the fox was introduced to help cull rabbit populations. You can read more about it here.
And now, I’m done, I promise. I will catch you all up on the epic road trip that most of these pictures come from at a later date when I can complete less clunky sentences. But before I go, one picture from ANU. This is what I do in my spare time.
Epic Trip Across the Sapphire Coast aka The Myth of the Australian Sky February 19, 2012
Hey all! So, for the past ten days my mother and I have embarked on a thoroughly epic trip across Australia, fitting more into the past week and a half than most people do in a month. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll try and keep the text to a minimum and focus on some images of the thoroughly amazing country I’m in.
Day One in Sydney: Right after getting off the plane. We walked around Sydney for about ten hours, got horribly lost, found our way again, went on a free walking tour, met some nice folks, and found my favorite place in Syney: the Botanical Gardens. I became a little obsessed with all the trees there.
Day Two in Sydney: More walking. It poured rain in the morning, but nothing stops McKinley women. We went to Manly beach, which was almost totally empty due to the fabulous weather (perfect for those with a tanning problem), and then wandered around Sydney even MORE. Seriously, we probably walked a marathon. And then we went back to the botanical gardens where I proceeded to scare some nice Asian tourists by talking about all the North American trees.
Anyway, I’m exhausted now but I’ll be updating a lot these next few days now that I have a computer, so stay tuned! Also, I have no idea how to put pictures on so sorry if they are a bit messy. And since some off
Sydney: City of Tank Tops and V-Necks January 31, 2012
Hi. So, I currently have not slept in about 40ish hours, save for a scant five-ish hours on the plane, and I don’t really count those since I was folded over like really fat piece of paper. I cannot really form any coherent thoughs, so here are some excerpts from my journal that I’ve been writing in all along.
- Waiting for first plane. Already realized I forgot my toothbrush. Hope other travellers appreciate personal space.
- On first plane. Currently sitting next to a very large man. My window and I are becoming intimately aquainted.
- On second plane. Children behind me not speaking but playing loud video game. May have to take video game and smash it.
- In Sydney airport. Lots of fanny packs, seen mostly on Asians. Not sure if Australian thing or Asian thing. Hopefully Australian thing since fanny packs are useful. Probably not, though.
- Currently very exhausted. The ground is moving beneath my feet. Not sure if exhaustion or earthquake. Hopefully earthquake but probably exhaustion.
- Sydney very cool city. Seems to be quite fond of London Plane-Trees as street trees. So tired not able to fully comprehend things. Many men in suits. Also cannot seem to think in complete sentences. My English teachers would be upset.
Anddd that’s all for now, folks. Tune in later for more of this restless wanderer’s misadventurerous piteous otherthrows.
Packing for Down Under January 28, 2012
I leave for Australia in two days and I am still not packed. I’m getting there, though! At this point, I keep putting things in my bag, deciding I don’t need them, taking them out, thinking about it, and then putting them back in. Its driving my sister absolutely barmy (new favorite word), since I’m using her room as my packing space. The only things I have packed for sure are some cute shoes (which my fashion-forward father says I don’t need), my climbing gear, and my dive gear. It’s socially acceptable to walk around campus dressed in a bathing suit and climbing shoes, right? Actually, walking around in my climbing shoes would ruin them, so I guess I’ll be wandering around in my bathing suit, which is apparently called “togs” in Australia (that just makes me think of wearing clogs as clothes, a la Lady Gaga), and some nice flats. I should stop writing this blog entry and just pack already, but its much more entertaining to procrastinate. What can I say, I work best under pressure.
In other news, it’s finally started to hit me that I will not see my family for FIVE MONTHS. The longest I’ve gone without seeing my dad has been two months, so this will definitely be a change. I know I’ll miss them, but I feel like it’ll be a good learning experience. I’ll miss my dog a LOT though. He’s almost fifteen, (105 in dog years), so I’m hoping he’ll be here when I get back. I just wish I could bring him along!