This is the big week – the week I face the first of my most feared challenges.  The 1000 steps have been beckoning since I decided to do a new adventure every week.  I’ve heard of it, had friends do it and have even been invited to do it before.  And Sunday was the day that I would finally face it head on.

After getting back from church and putting Tyson down for a sleep, it was time for me to head off.  Water bottle in hand and fear and trembling in my mind, I headed off to face this giant mountain alone.  Though I’d previously thought about going along with a friend, when it came time to do it, I thought the bigger challenge was for me to get there off my own steam.

The first challenge was for me to actually find it.  I had only a vague idea of where the 1000 steps actually are and, after little luck searching online, thought I’d just head out and hope for the best. 

The 1000 steps are a part of a greater trail called the Kokoda Memorial Track, so I figured that somewhere along the line there’d be a sign for that.  Heading out along Burwood Highway and then onto the Dandenong Tourist Road, I pulled off at the first major park and was encouraged to find many walkers heading to their cars with bottles in hand.  If this wasn’t where the 1000 steps are, then at least there’s clearly somewhere that I can have a good walk that could function as a substitute.

I parked the car and headed off in the direction that everyone seemed to be coming from and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the sign for the Kokoda Memorial Track.  By the time I reached the sign that showed where the 1000 Steps I was breathing heavily and on the brink of exhaustion.  This is not a good sign of things to come.

Now, before I headed off, there were two things I knew about the 1000 Steps.  Firstly, there’s not actually 1000 steps, but just under 900.  Secondly, there’s a bit of a walk before you get to the steps.

Given that I was already puffing just getting to the sign, I figured that I’d covered the ground in the lead up to the steps and they were to appear just around the corner.  The sign said the walk would be 1.8km.  To walk the big block around my house is around 3.4km, so I wasn’t phased by the 1.8km sign.

In fact, I was very hopeful.   And so, I headed off determined to complete the climb. 

I was, however, on a timeframe.  I needed to be back around the time that Tyson would be awake ‘cos he was due for a feed.  This gave me around 45 minutes to complete the walk.  Forty-five minutes for 1.8km?  No worries!

I headed off up the mountain towards the steps.  Rounding the corner, I was surprised to see that the steps weren’t there.  More climbing.  Puff … puff…. I couldn’t stop or I knew I would stop altogether.

Running through my mind was the statement, “One foot after the other.  One foot after the other.”  So, that I did.  One foot after the other.

My goodness.  This was a difficult climb.  People were coming back down the mountain and seemed quite pleased with themselves.  I couldn’t wait until I was that person.  The one who had already finished the climb and was nearing her car ready to head home.  It seemed so far away, as did the steps that seemed to never appear.

People were passing me on the way up, but this didn’t phase me.  I’m not in great shape and it’s my first time up, so I just had to be ok with it taking my time.

Finally, the steps came into view.  At this point, I was thinking that there’s no way I was going to make it even to the base of the steps.  It’s steep and it seems to go on forever.  Then when confronted with the steps, that’s when the climb was meant to start.  I couldn’t get my mind around it.

As I finally reached the base of the steps, it was encouraging, almost, to see that some people just came to this point and then turned around and headed back down.  That’s what I wanted to do.  And, as I looked at the time, was very much what I nearly had to do.  It had taken me over 20 minutes just to get to this point.  Assuming it takes me half of that to get back down again, I only had 15 minutes to get up and down the 1000 steps.

Hmmmmmm.  What a dilemma.  I had wanted to conquer the steps, but in my head I realised I had to be content with less than the full walk.  This wasn’t hard to get my head around because my legs didn’t feel like they had the climb in them anyway. 

I decided that rather than turning straight around, I would make some headway on the steps.  My goal was to do the 1000 steps, so I felt it was only right that I actually walk up some of the steps. 

I moved up one step.  Already the pain has set in.  Another step.  This isn’t going to be easy.

Third step.

This is definitely going to be mind over matter.

Eventually, one foot after the other, I made it up around 75 steps before my body screamed for me to stop, knowing that the walk back down the hill still faced me.  You see, in my mind, the walk down the hill was going to be just as tough as the walk up.

Halfway down the hill I realised that I was wrong.  The walk down the hill was an absolute breeze and it was here that I realised that I probably could have pushed even further. 

After arriving back at my car and beginning the drive home, my friend Kristy called me saying she was on her way home from church and she wanted to drop by.  I arrived home just after she arrived at my house and we had a great time over lunch catching up on life.  If for no other reason than being able to have this time with Kristy, I didn’t regret not getting through all the steps.  If I’d done them all, I wouldn’t have been within range of home when she called and we wouldn’t have had that time together.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t make it all the way? A little bit.  But, it leaves me with the full challenge left to complete.  I’m going to give myself a few weeks to get into a bit more shape and then give it another go.  The great thing about going back a second time is that now I know what I’m up against. 

Regardless of whether someone has it in them to make it all the way or not, I would highly recommend the 1000 steps.  If you look past the pain in your legs, the scenery is absolutely stunning and definitely worth it.

Cost:  Free