The sun dipped quickly and the cold mountain air sent people searching for additional layers of clothing. Some groups chatted quietly around the fire, others made plans for the next day. I think at some point nearly all of us took a few moments to look up and take in the quiet magnificence of the night sky.

After sleeping in tents students woke to camp breakfasts and chatter about route pans for the day ahead. Some groups would be spending time navigating through bush, others under more open skies and most would be venturing into Murray’s Cave at some point.

The Wednesday of camp was the main day of hiking and after the initial excitement of setting out the rhythm of the trail lulled us into reflective silence, punctuated here and there by brumbies, kangaroos or an opportunity to complete one of the polaroid challenges set for each group.

The second evening brought cooler weather and time for journaling and reflection upon the day’s challenges and highlights. Some groups had new vistas to consider and we all had fresh fires to light, meals to cook and memories to share.

Hiking out the next morning looked different for each group, some set off with the sunrise for company, others had time to enjoy a morning fire and a hot drink before getting too serious about packing up. By lunchtime we had assembled ourselves on Long Plain and retraced our tyre marks back to Tumut via the Yarrangobilly Hot Pools for lunch and a swim.

Ultimately, we learned that life requires us all to change, to grow and to discover. Participating in the Invictus hike gave us the opportunity to experience the benefits of planning and preparation in order to manage change and enjoy growth. The hike fostered self-reliance in a supportive context and allowed participants to further develop their personal decision making skills.

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