Or how I went from 29 minutes to 12 minutes…
Every step becomes a little easier, the more you climb and the more you focus. Back in February, after learning of the Kilimanjaro Charity Challenge, I decided it was time to get fit, if nothing else but to keep up with my colleagues and achieve this challenge.
And so, like a professional I sought the wise and trusted advice of my colleagues in the industry, many of whom suggested the 1,000 steps in Ferntree Gully. As this near my home, it seemed like a great idea.
I can do them in around 10 minutes! , responded one, who shall remain nameless. Her level of fitness was extreme compared to mine, but it seemed achievable.
I think we d need to put aside an hour or so , was another response. She had obviously believed my self-doubt about even being able to complete this mini task. I figured this was more likely than 10 minutes!
The 1,000 steps are really 770-odd, and weave their way up from the base of base of Mt Dandenong to the picnic ground at 1 Tree Hill. It was created in the early 1900 s and was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb a little easier. Permanent concrete steps were installed in 1950.
And so, on a warm Saturday morning in March I set off to climb the steps. On arrival, I learn that there were two sets of steps to the left were newer, flatter steps, and to the right were the original steps. I chose the newer, figuring they would be easier.
As it was early afternoon, the steps and picnic grounds were relatively busy, so at least I knew I wasn't the only one with a similar idea. After the first 20 steps or so, I realized that walking to and from the car-park to the office was not an ideal level of exercise.
I continued on, dreaming that as I approached each bend in the track that the final signpost would appear, stopping frequently to recover and catch my breath. I was overtaken a few times, expected for a newbie, but was determined to make it.
After what seemed to be at least half a day of stepping, stopping, stepping, stopping, I reached the end and peered through misty sunglasses at my phone to see how long it had taken.
I looked again. It still said 29 minutes.
I hadn't quite met the 10-minute claim by my colleague at M2, but it certainly was a very respectable time.
Progress & Consistency
This weekend marked my 30th ascension of the steps a mixture of the old and new steps, although I prefer the older the scenery is more impressive, the climb a little steeper, and more variety in steps and direction.
With a huge amount of encouragement and support by an industry colleague, the Steps are now forming an integral part of my fitness regime in preparation for Kilimanjaro later this year.
Whilst speed is by no means important stamina and consistency is more valuable, I have now been able to achieve a consistent time of around 12 minutes to ascend the Steps, with no stops for breath on the way.
For those who know me personally, and as someone who would often spend far too much time at a desk or on the couch watching Game of Thrones, this is an exciting and addictive achievement!
The forest surrounding the steps and at the top of the hill are filled with wildlife and amazing scenery most mornings as I hike around the back of the mountain (around 5k depending on which track you take), something will pop out to say hello.
Wallabies, wild rabbits, yabbies crossing the track, lyrebirds, more birds than I ve ever seen and the odd bunyip.
And so, if you re ever considering climbing a mountain or just want to increase your level of fitness, head on out to the 1,000 Steps at Kokoda Track Memorial Walk in Ferntree Gully. I'm there virtually every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, rain or shine, as dawn breaks (less crowds, and more wildlife!), climbing the steps 2 or 3 times with the regulars before taking a hike/jog from One Tree Hill around the northern side of the mountain back to base.
And even if you just want a quiet picnic lunch, it s a great place to take the family!