Eight women. 39 kilometres. One stunning ancient landscape.
All of us were from different places and life stages but found ourselves sharing common ground early on; in search of deeper connection with ourselves, with nature and with each other. In fact, interconnectedness became our unofficial ‘theme’ for the week!
As the Senior Partnerships Manager at The Hunger Project, I’ve had the great privilege to visit some pretty amazing places, but doing the Larapinta Trek with seven incredible women was a life highlight.
Before I go into the details of the trip itself, I’d like to acknowledge that all of the participants – Chelsea, Carlie, Jen, Jodie, Sharon and Vanessa, all fundraised a minimum of $6,000 to take part – collectively raising an incredible $46k for The Hunger Project. A massive effort!
Facilitating the trip was the fabulously talented Kemi Nekvapil (check out her books and podcast!). Kemi is a long-time supporter of our approach to ending hunger, which focuses on the VCA principles: Vision, Commitment and Action. These principles were weaved into our journey, guiding us through to our destination.
Also guiding us was Anna from Autopia Tours. What a phenomenal woman! Anna was so passionate and knowledgeable and guided us beautifully throughout our trek.
We all arrived in Mparntwe/Alice Springs excited and full of anticipation. After a special Welcome to Country at the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, where we learnt about the deep connection First Nations people have to the land and each other, we all gathered for dinner to meet and get to know one another before spending the next three days on the land and under the stars.
The first day was a mild trek to ease us into the absolutely majestic scenery and the days to come. The sounds of nature surrounded us, as we had space away from our busy lives and constant streams of information to think about what we wanted for our futures. Throughout the day, we found quiet, reflective spots where we would rest and talk through a part of The Hunger Project’s VCA approach and how it related to our own lives.
After a day of walking and a tasty campfire dinner prepared by the brilliant Autopia team, we snuggled into our tents and prepped for a 1:30am alarm. We were getting up in the middle of the night to climb Mount Sonder (Rwetyepme) – in the dark with head torches no less! The walk up the mountain was very windy and cold, but there was a certain point in the trek where the stars appear BELOW you and we were enveloped in night – it was a magical, spiritual experience. Reaching the top of Mount Sonder for sunrise, with a hot thermos full of tea to share in the company of this group of women, was well worth the lack of sleep.
On our final trek day, we walked through Ormiston Pound and into Ormiston Gorge – as you can see by the pics, it is breathtaking. We finished our trek with a water crossing up to our waists – a symbolic conclusion to an unforgettable experience.
Some of the words that the participants used to describe the trip were “life-changing, awe-inspiring and profound”. For me, the camaraderie, vulnerability, shared laughter and tears was what made this trip so special. A huge thank you to the inimitable Kemi, who has supported The Hunger Project and lives our values each and every day, and she generously shares her gifts so that others may grow.