Randomtrailtales 1733 – 1871km: ‘Make wise decisions’, is an advice you and often hear on trail and in the mountains. There are two things that wait in front of us, the ‘Richmond Mountain Ranges’ and ‘bad weather forecasts’ and we had to make a decision whether to stay or go. From the safety of a small town of Havelock, the three of us sat around the hostel’s kitchen table for hours discussing the different options we could take. Two things that worried us were ‘low visibility’ on the exposed ridges due to clouds and the many ‘river crossings’ which would rise with the amount of rainwater expected to fall in the coming week. We looked at numerous weather apps and satellite predictions and came to the conclusion that the weather just keeps changing every day and that if we waited in town we could actually be stuck for up to two weeks waiting for the perfect conditions. ‘Sunny’ sighed that all these long discussions and meetings were making her even more tired than walking and said ‘Let’s hike!’ We decide to go for it and head out to the mountains. There is always the safety of a mountain hut every five hours along the trail in which we could sit out the rain for 1 to 2 days. We packed 10 days of food for what would otherwise be an 8 day trail. Just as in life, the trail presents many unexpected obstacles and challenges on which you have to make fast decisions. The decision to turn back, stop or sit out the rain for a day in a hut playing card is always a very realistic option. We have clearly entered the ‘mental phase’ of this journey with the puzzles becoming more difficult to crack. In this phase you can loose focus, loose motivation, be pulled back home to new and exciting challenges or homesickness. It’s very sad to see a few dear friends leave the Trail but also interesting to meet new characters who are just starting by exclusively walking the South Island. As for me, 10 days of pure raw nature lay before me and apparently there is an elevation gain equivalent to that of climbing up and down Everest from sea level. I have to admit it does sound a little crazy to find pleasure in doing something like that in the rain…………. ………….. …………..,
All the women I have met on trails around the world eventually have the same issue, ‘their hips’. Although the hip belts have padding, they still result in horrible bruising and friction burns on their hips as most of the weight of heavy backpack is carried on the hip. I rarely hear this complaint from men. But women speak of excruciating pain as if their hip bone is being splinted and the only solution is ‘a sponge’. Yes, a few $2.- washing up sponges that they place between the hip belt and their hip to create an extra cushion. Although some backpack brands do offer interchangeable hip belts that have more padding, these rarely prevent the pain. It still seems like an under developed area within the gear industry with fundamental design flaws. Somehow changing the colour and calling it a women’s backpack just isn’t cutting it…………. …………. ………….
I feel I finally have less restlessness in my mind and more desire to read. I always carry a real paper book with me to read at night in my tent, which I pass on to other hikers when completed, and listen to audio books during the day while hiking. These are 7 books that made a lasting impression on me which I have read out here: 1: Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. (About Man’s dream to escape society and live a life of solitude in the woods. Thanks Jeff Bakker for the recommendation) 2: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (inspiring and humbling) 3: The Moneyless Man (encouraging me to spend less, save more and be more creative) 4: Edmund Hillary Autobiography (a pioneer and local legend) 5: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran ( great to re-read every year with a new perspective as I grow older) 6: Papillon by Henri Charrière ( best fugitive tail ever told) 7: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (life is short, the world is waiting) ……………. ……………. …………….As my body carries me up and down the mountains on autopilot, I find I loose myself in endless Podcasts as they present different questions for me to ponder on for the rest of the day. My favorite Podcasts: 1:TED Radio Hour (about popular science) 2:Dirtbag Diaries (about adventure lifestyle) 3: Keep your Day Dream (about making travel central to your life) 4: Rough Translation (about a different perfect on first world problems) 5: Planet Money by NPR (about how different economic models effect our every day life) 6: Documentary by BBC (radio documentaries about world issues) 7: MNT Meister (about mountain adventures)…………………… ………………. …………. ………..A week ago we left the hip and trendy city of Wellington behind us and took the ferry to the South Island. Some may have heard of the famous ‘Queen Charlotte Track’, from Ship Cove to Picton. It’s an easy, well graded trail with breathtaking views on both sides of the ridge onto Mediterranean coloured bays with Baches (summer houses) only accessible by boat. It was strange to suddenly share the Trail with so many day-hikers and tourists, and it woke me up to appreciate how lucky we are to experience so much of the Trail without meeting a soul. Walking from bay to bay, I was able to jump from the jetty each afternoon into the salty water, but was always fast to climb back out, as I had seen two huge 1 meter wide Stingrays the day we left Picton Harbor.