Trekkers ascending the ridge along the Larapinta Trail
Sarah Wilson is known as the author of best selling book I Quit Sugar and loves being in the outdoors. We caught up with Sarah to hear about her experiences on the Larapinta Trail.
Why did you chose to walk the Larapinta Trail? My sister has walked the trail and I had a few people who had mentioned it to me on the other hikes I've done. I knew the Larapinta Trail was a really great adventure. So, I've heard about it a number of different times and wanted to walk with other hikers.
Were there any challenges you were expecting from the trek before you walked?
The group experience is always a challenge as I'm generally used to hiking on my own. Group dynamics just present a very different experience. I chose the Classic Larapinta Trek In Comfort
because of the availability of water. I have an anxiety-related issue of needing to bathe before bed. It's something you just don't bare in mind when you're used to hiking in other wilderness areas with more water sources. I was aware that water on the Larapinta Trail was going to be really limited, due to the desert environment and being able to have a hot shower each evening was one of the reasons I chose the comfort trip. The other challenge is of course, the extreme temperatures. A lot of people, don't realise that the desert gets freezing at night.
What were you looking forward to, before going on the walk? Just the expanse of the desert. I just really love desert landscapes and I was really looking forward to the feeling of expansiveness it delivers. It's very hard to find when you're in day to day living in the city, and even hiking in forests it is not quite the same as getting right out into the vastness of the outback. The expanse of the sky is incredible. At night there's that really clear, dry air and you get to see stars that you just don't normally see. It goes beyond seeing it, to the feeling of expansiveness that it creates. As humans, we crave it, and I think that's what's so special about being in the desert.
You're the author of the best selling I Quit Sugar, and recently released, First We Make The Beast Beautiful, a new story of anxiety books. How has being active in the natural environment related to the ideas behind your books? It's a big part of it. I hike to be able to write and for me it comes back to that expansive feeling. In my book First We Make the Beast Beautiful I say walking happens at a steady pace - the same as thought when you're trying to write, you really need that steadiness. I believe the other aspect is the people you meet along the way. Facing a challenge together can make us feel very open and gives us an opportunity to share a lot in the process. I think a lot of people don't realise that hiking gives that opportunity.
What were the highlights for you?
The highlights of the Classic Larapinta Trek In Comfort
trip were being able to lie out under the stars in a swag and that is is a wonderful experience that you just don't get when you're living in the city. The food was absolutely delicious and eating around the camp fire was a treat. When you camp on your own, you won't always have that luxury.
Were there any difficult times and how did you overcome them? The walk up Mount Sonder is probably the most challenging part, because you're doing it in the dark to reach the summit at sunrise. A lesson in hiking is about putting one foot in front of the other - we live in a society where we are so used to having a nice quick outcome, we want to know now and we want to be already there. With hiking you can't do that, you can't push that. I've done some really big hikes and I've done them on my own, where you really got to drill down into that strength, and so the trek up Mount Sonder was really great for that because you literally just put one foot in front of the other, even with a torch you couldn't see that much further. The other people on the trip really enjoyed the summit too. Sitting out there on top of the mountain, watching the the sun rise and seeing the massive landscape in front of you slowly emerge from the darkness is a magical experience. We live such sanitized lives where everything's spelt out for us and the hike was a great opportunity to tap into that more honest way of existing, where you're 100% living in the present.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about walking the Larapinta Trail?
Do it! Make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes, pack a hot water bottle and a water bottle. Read more on Sarah's experience through her blog