(This last track will forever be the fruit trail for me because dam there was a lot of fruit. These are all the ones I gathered on trail.)
The funniest thing happened to me on this last trail. There was a sign warning about me about only undertaking this track if you are an experienced hiker. This made me stop and think am I experienced?
Well after five months of making mistakes and plenty of pain and suffering I am beginning to feel like maybe I am. Don’t get me wrong the track was steep but it was well formed, with both shoes and a rebalanced pack frame I even started to look the part.
You see you don’t notice your fitness until you leave an hour after the last people and catch them. Or how organised your pack is until you see how quickly you can unpack and repack in under 15 minutes. The most notably change has been people saying “is that all your carrying?” Instead of “what are you carrying?”.
I have no pain at the end of the day and know exactly how I need to eat to feel satisfied though I did run out of pemmican sadly. And at a glance of a map I know exactly how much ground I can cover in a day.
I don’t think these are skills you will loose either (well maybe the fitness). I think I’m really going to appreciate a weekend in the bush a lot more knowing how much harder it is to be on the trail for five months.
So when people ask what I am going to do once I finish this walk the answer will probably be more of the same. Walking, making and writing cos it’s pretty amazing….Probably to a lesser extent though.
With my bow safely sent away with the swedes and the abandonment of my other fishing gear I began to feel like I was giving up.
The Swedes also gave me were shoes (a final nail in the coffin). With a depressed sigh I considered this defeat. But after traveling 2500 km mostly barefooted I just wanted to finish the track.
The large road sections and tussock hills meant long days and longer distances. I couldn’t help feeling over come by the stresses of being five months on the trail making sure I had enough food (a diabetics worst fear), concentrating on informal track with my short sightedness and trying not to think about all the worries that come with finishing (what am I doing after this? Where will I live? how do I get home from bluff? argh!!).
The beauty of nature had lost its revitalising energy, the random hut books couldn’t hold my interest and the idea of returning home made me feel exhausted.
The will to slug it out on the track was gone. My body wasn’t tired but my mind was I had nothing left to give. With good comic timing I was forced to pitch my fly on the top of a saddle in the rain.
The stress also lead to my control over my blood sugars not being perfect. Eating away at my food supplies and meds. Did you know you can stress about stress?
I would meet other hikers at huts and it seemed that I wasn’t alone they shared their own feelings of hikers blues and talked about the chance to see their kids again and the pride of finishing helping to keep them going (I was jealous).
I made my way over yet another beautiful saddle (sigh) I was hit by a cold icy wind. This got me to quicken my pace down the steep decent. My heart raced as I slide and scrambled down the track. I jumped over creeks and stumbled over rocks and before I knew it I was at the hut.
Over my lunch break I released I hadn’t worried all morning. The next part of the trail it came off the road and onto a beech forest trail steep climbs and uneven ground actually made things interesting. I skipped over narrow edges and jumped over fallen trees when I stumbled and let’s face it, fell I laughed. I felt joy in the need to go fast even when it hurt. I felt more like a kid exploring and forest playground then a long distance hiker on a track.
With shoes on and a lighten pack the 27 km didn’t seem all the bad. And that night for the first time in a while I slept soundly.
It seems that my cure for the blues lies more in going through more pain and suffering rather then relaxing and taking it easy who knew?