At the start of this year, our Managing Director Ben and COO Lachie took part in an epic trek through Kosciuszko National Park. We've taken some time to chat with both Ben and Lachie to find out a bit more about this unforgettable experience.
1. What did the trek involve?
Lach - The trek was really a journey into the unknown. Over many trips to Kosciusko, Max had always wondered what was below Lake Albino and the Blue Lake. Lady Northcote Creek was the main feature that lay below. The goal was to walk the length of this creek to Geehi Flats, which we had been told was near impossible to traverse. Following completion of this leg was the Hannels Spur ascent, Australia’s highest vertical climb (20kms and 2000 vertical metres) to the top of Kosciusko. Then a quick trot back down the other side back to the cars at Charlotte’s Pass. A 3.5 day walk in the park!
2. What was the reason behind doing the trek?
Ben - We wanted to do something physically and mentally challenging to kick off the year and push ourselves well beyond our comfort zones.
3. How did you prepare for the trek?
Ben - We only had one month to prepare for this adventure, so there wasn’t a lot of preparation. I changed my workout style from shorter HIIT style workouts to more grinding longer workouts, including things such as heavy farmers carries for extended periods. With a little over a week to go, we filled our backpacks with weights and started wearing them around the office and in the warehouse while we helped pack orders during the Black Friday busy period.
Lach - Sleeping on a bed of nails and living off a diet of concrete! 😊
4. What were your expectations before starting the trek, and how did they compare to the reality of the experience?
Ben - I was hoping it was going to be physically tough and mentally challenging. I never imagined it would turn out to be such a crazy adventure that really took us so close to our limits.
Lach - I relish the thought of pushing myself to my physical limit (and beyond). We certainly got everything we were hoping for and more! The final 24hrs in particular was an incredible test. 45kms and over 2.5kms of vertical climbing. Summiting Kosciusko in the cold at 1am. Definitely touched the void!
5. Were there any specific goals or objectives you set for yourself before the trek?
Lach - Connect with some very experienced professionals in the bush and extend the bounds of what I feel I am physically capable of. In two words, to ‘get uncomfortable’.
6. What physical and mental challenges did you face during the 3 days?
Ben - My knees started to give me trouble halfway through the second day, by the end of day three they were completely blown out, making it extremely painful to walk the last 10km.
Lach - Back, Shoulder, Knees, Ankles, Toenails – They eventually all succumb to the pounding of the distance covered. The physical stress then migrates to mental stress with the lack of sleep compounding this. The key for me was to keep the conversation jovial and the water and nutrition on point.
7. How did you maintain mental resilience throughout the three days?
Ben - I love being out in nature and found the isolation from everyday life to be highly soothing to my mind. My phone reception was gone before we even left the cars, so I was able to dedicate 100% of my attention to being in the moment and enjoying the journey. I stayed focused on being grateful for the opportunity of partaking in such a great adventure.
Lach - I found there were a lot of parallels between navigating a trek (physically) and taking a hike through your own thoughts (mentally) as there is a lot of focused ‘alone time’ when you are walking. I found the more peaks and valleys I conquered in my mind as we walked, the better the view on the external trail became. Your surroundings start to come into focus once you clear the noise from your mind and you can really enjoy what is going on around you. Mind over mountain, always!
8. How did you fuel yourself before and during the trek?
Ben - I didn’t change anything regarding my nutrition leading into the trek. During the first 2 days of the trek, I continued to consume a relatively high protein diet alongside carbs via fruits, rice and the True Electrolyte blend. The last day required a big uptick in carb-based fuels in addition to protein bars, biltong and electrolytes.
Lach - I typically follow a pretty strict carnivore diet, which is predominantly focused on animal-based protein. Initially I was a little concerned that the lower levels of carbs in my diet might be my downfall. But I was pleasantly surprised that maintaining consistency with my diet throughout the trek (biltong, dried meat snacks, protein bars, collagen) set me up pretty well to survive it. Along the way, plenty of electrolytes also helped to keep the energy levels high and the body regular 😉 Better the devil you know!
9. What were the highlights of the trek?
Lach - A chance encounter with a huge 6-point Red Stag (and two does he had in his company). Truly mythical creatures that are normally ghosts of the forest. I don't think they had ever seen humans as they initially weren't sure what to make of us. As a lover of deer – it was very special to see such awesome animals in the wild.
10. Was it a team effort or more individual?
Ben - The trek was a massive team effort, with so many challenging moments and obstacles; everyone had each other's back, and we all helped each other constantly throughout the journey.
Lach - So much of what were able to achieve on this walk was founded on ‘team’. Motivating each other, balancing each other in the creeks, guiding each other in the dark. It really was all about a collaborative effort to complete the mission. There is very little, if any, element of ‘self’ on an expedition like this as you realise very quickly that it’s the sum of the parts that makes the adventure great (and possible). Everyone brings something different to the table and when you combine life experience and personalities, you get a group that is greater than the sum of its parts. Particularly once you cross the finish line!
11. Did you use any of the True brand values to get you through?
Lach - For sure! They all resonate in different ways at different stages of an expedition like this. The “be united’ value was really the one that stood out most though. On a long-distance expedition, being unified as a group isn't just a good idea; it pretty much becomes your GPS. We might take different steps individually, but ultimately, we're all heading in the same direction and must get to the same end point. It's not about getting just yourself to the summit or the end of the river; it's about getting everyone there and having an epic shared story to tell at the campfire at the end.
12. Would you do anything differently?
Lach - Pack lighter!
13. Would you do something like this again?
Lach - In the moments of struggle you can’t imagine wanting to repeat something like this. But the minute you realise you have survived; you are already begging for the next challenge! Keep them coming!
14. What is your biggest takeaway from being a part of something like this?
Lach - Perspective. When the pressure is on and you are under duress, things become clearer. The noise quietens and you realise what is important to you.