My breath billows before me like a cloud as it hits the cold night air. I swap my motorbike jacket and boots for a light jumper and running shoes. Then I turn off the motorbike light and stand in total darkness for a few moments. The sky is filled with stars and the bush is silent. I breath in the serenity before turning on my headlight and hitting the trail.
I’ve set up a route that will take me past the five geocaches hidden in Venman National Park. I don’t know it yet but the trail will be over 11km long and will take me over two hours to complete, allowing for time spent searching for caches and signing logs. It’s still about 22’C but by the time I return to my bike it will be a chilly 12’C.
My headlight bobs up and down on my head as I run creating a bouncing light effect on the ground. It’s only 45 lumens but still cuts through the pitch black night. On at least a dozen occasions my light reflects off the orange eyes of tawny frogmouths; a large funny looking bird that hunts insects at night. One of them was only an arm-length away from me when I noticed it and we stood still staring at each other for at least 30 seconds before it flew away. I always think these encounters are such a privilege. I also saw a ring-tail possum, a black snake and an owl.
All I can hear as I run are my soft footfalls and the sloshing of water in my camel back. There’s not many singing birds out tonight; just quiet hunters. Occasionally I hear wallabies bounding away into the trees; clearly startled by my presence in their night-time domain. The serenity is divine, particularly in a world where we are almost always plugged into music, television, mobile phones and other intrusive devices. I wonder why I don’t come out at night more often.
The geocaches are all fairly easy to find. Only one causes me any trouble and that’s not because it was a difficult ind but because I found myself spooked by the hiding spot. The cache was hidden under a huge fallen tree. The base of the tree was at least a metre in diameter and the fallen tree was huge. The way it was splayed all over the ground felt creepy in the darkness; a bit like walking through a graveyard. It seems silly to have been freaked out but I was. Though I did just suck it up and look for the cache, clambering all over the tree’s carcass.
Total: 11.60km @ 7:57 pace and 74% maximum heart rate. Found 5 geocaches. Average temperature 18.4’C.