Hello everyone,

Let’s be honest here… Reading about someone’s epic fails is sometimes more fun than spectacular photos that make you feel inadequate πŸ˜‚.

So here’s one I prepared earlier in the week. All dosed up on medication for my autoimmune arthritis and walking better than I had in months… it seemed like a good idea to pack a picnic and take the kids for a bushwalk.

We chose Helena Pipehead Trail in Kalamunda National Park. 13.5km along the Helena river and past the dam on return. On paper it sounded good…

Medium difficulty. Mostly graded tracks. Good boots. Gentle exercise for my joints. Even better for my depression. Get outdoors. Exhaust the kids. Sunshine. Nature. River. All good?

It was great too. Until we took the wrong turn on an old track down to the river.


Hubby decided it would be easier to climb up through the bush than to back track.

Our kids took one look at the scrubby bush above and said no way Dad.

And yet… I agreed. I can walk! Woohoo let’s push ourselves and climb up a steep hillside with a 3 and a 4 year old. Hmmmm!

Note to Arthritis sufferers. Climbing from the river below to up here is incredibly stupid!

The less said the better really. Miss 3 got her ponytail caught up in a particularly challenging climbing vine. My knee gave way and I went sliding down through mud to the kid’s delight.

Native bush plants and my kids were introduced to some truly spectacular curse words. For those not familar with West Australian bushland we have some truly horrible spiky plants. Lovely to look at. An utter pain to trapse and scrabble through.

Drosera macrantha (climbing sundew). The one and only photo before I slid down in the mud.

When we finally reached the track andΒ  stopped to admire the view we saw a different kind of display… Is that a wrecked white car?!

Because every good walk trail requires a random car pushed off a cliff. This has been here for ages we found out.

Nursing bruised knees and covered in mud and scratches, we gave the kids piggyback rides back to the car and decided to try again next week (and stop at the chemist for some painkillers for me).

Trying to find positives I looked inside. No matter how much of a fail the walk was it did help for a little while. Exercise and sunshine does give me a time out from depression. Even a small reprieve is worth seizing.

Thankfully we passed these Hoveas on the way home which made the trip worth it don’t you think?

Some days things just don’t quite go to plan do they?Β If you have a failed nature experience to share I’d love to hear it. Realistics unite 😊.


18 thoughts on “Helena Pipehead Bushwalk… Or how NOT to bushwalk with arthritis!

  1. Being new to your blog I know little yet about your arthritis and depression. What strikes me is that you seem very brave and there’s always humour running like a cheerful undercurrent through your words. I’m enjoying your posts! I didn’t know there is a climbing sundew, very interesting! And I love seeing your photos of Hovea growing in the wild. Its beautiful! I have a story or two I could share, might come back and do that πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thought I’d share a couple of our (hubbie and me) mis-adventures while I have lunch. Both in NZ. The first occurred in an alpine area where we climbed up above the tree-line and due to MY over-enthusiasm stayed on the tops too long so we had to come back through the trees in the dark. The path went in and out of the trees. When we were ‘out’ the going was easy due to a clear moonlit night. When we were ‘in’ we couldn’t see a thing. I experimented with sitting down on the track and feeling my way along the track with my hands. I got us all the way back to the carpark in this manner, to our great relief! The other disaster was when we explored the alpine area above Queenstown called The Remarkables and due to a mix of over-enthusiasm and mis-information ended up spending an unscheduled over-nighter sitting among rocks way up there overlooking Queenstown’s lovely twinkling lights. It was cold and we were very hungry next morning but we walked out and recovered after a hearty breakfast. We were lucky as it didn’t rain overnight and we were dressed ok for the cold – it was very uncomfortable but not life-threatening!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ooh you’ve made my day! Not only a lovely comment but shared stories woohooo.
      I think you sound brave actually. Cold and dark are not my cup of tea. Scrambling through bush in daylight is difficult enough. Do you have either story on your blog (maybe some photos of NZ too?).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I told my stories especially for you and anyone looking at your comments πŸ˜‰ I don’t think they’re on my blog. They’re old stories but still vivid in both of our memories! I’m making a cuppa for he and me right now but I’ll be back and I’ll give you some links on my blog to get you started with some good reading! Its great to have ‘met’ you in this blogosphere!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi again Nat. In the autumn this year I spent a few hours in Queenstown while my husband Nigel was visiting a client. I went for a walk and took some nice photos of the Shotover area which you might enjoy and there’s some photos that include The Remarkables. I’ll give you a link you can click on to see these Shotover posts. You’ll see another post titled Cosy in Clyde Post Office. We went home via Central Otago and liked Clyde so much we stayed overnight there. If you like that post you can click on the tag ‘clyde’ (in the dark grey area before the comments) and see more Clyde posts. You might also like to try the tag ‘central otago’ for even more posts about the greater region which is a fascinating area. Here’s the link for you to click on and then what you do is up to you! https://exploringcolour.wordpress.com/?s=shotover

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for looking through so many of the posts Nat. I haven’t looked at the red one for a while but I remember being happy with it. I like the colour red!


  3. Good for you, it might have felt like hell on earth when you were going up that hill but you all survived and that sense of ‘I did it’ will last for many a year to come. Depression is hell, but it does get easier once you and your nearest and dearest start to recognise the warning signs that it is approaching and you can tackle it before it gets worse. It took me years to get to this point but as you already know what helps you are well on the way to being able to live with it.

    As a walker I have loads of those type of ‘why did we go this way’ stories I think it’s part of being a walker. The real key is knowing where your limits are and despite your unplanned slide it doesn’t sound like you were out of your depth and it certainly doesn’t sound like a fail to me. You went, you saw and you conquered, just not what you planned on conquering. You still came out with little more than a few aches, scratches and bruises and a great story to tell.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehe if I uploaded the photo of myself covered in mud with sticks in my hair maybe it would seem more of a fail 😊. But you’re right. I was proud of myself for trying. The relationship between depression and physical restriction and pain is quite scary really. If I give up physically the mental will follow. So just keeping on trying.

      What did you find helped you best with managing your depression?


      1. Walking and a very understanding husband. Learning over time to recognise the early warning signs and knowing I could just say to my husband how I felt. I’ve also found that once I verbalise how I feel the depression loses its ability to take control.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is why I chose a coastal walk when I was the only adult – because it is (almost!!) impossible to take a wrong turn! πŸ˜‚ I have been in your position many times scrabbling through bracken or skating down scree, cursing my dad’s map-reading! On another occasion, in the Aussie bush, my two-year old got bitten by a bull ant, only I thought it might be a deadly spider. That was not a fun walk!
    I always walk with emergency chocolate. In case of getting lost, cuts and scrapes, waiting for mountain rescue…
    But as you say, you had an adventure, and your kids will always remember the time they saw mummy surfing down the hill, and the new words she taught them!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ali 😊 why didn’t I think of emergency chocolate?! Yum.

    I can just imaging my Mr 4 getting up to tell news at school and dobbing me in for a potty mouth though ☺


  6. Is there anything like poison oak there? It is something that we must cut back away from the trails here. Otherwise, we have no cacti or yucca in our specific neighborhood. There is more yucca farther south. Some of the brush is very difficult to get through, and very scratchy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tony! No not poison oak. I don’t think we get that here. It is a native climber called Hardenbergia. Not an irritant just a complete tangle to get through. The spikes are usually from Dryandra. Think that name is outdated now but we call it Parrot Bush. The leaves are leathery and serrated and scratch you up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I am familiar with a hardenbergia that is grown as an ornamental. It is quite a tangle. I do not know the other, but I do know scratchy chaparral brush.


  7. How I wish I could walk like you. I have osteoarthritis in both hips and I have trouble walking around my office, leave alone hiking in the bush. I spent 66 years backpacking in the High Sierra, often going 100 miles or more, and I miss my mountains. I would give anything to strap on a pack again and head for the hills. Any suggestions?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s