After three days of road walking, including 20k on a busy highway, came something completely different. The Tararuas. A challenge that caught me off my guard. When our first day was like this…..
Somewhere amongst the roots and rocks we scramble, is a trail. Worthy of the form of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I haven’t been so properly thrown off my expectations since my Appalachian hike in 2011. From an average of 35 km a day, we went into these woods thinking we could maybe slow it down to 25-30 for elevation. We didn’t anticipate struggling to make it 19km our first day in.
I remember how hard it was to accept on the A.T. I felt so mad that I couldn’t go faster. I would push along out of spite. Thinking of the trail as my rival. Something to defeat, or outsmart in some way. It’s different now.
I find myself taking for granted how well I’ve come to understand my stepping. How I can generally do what I think I can do. A lot of that’s good reasoning too. Making room for a few unexpected set backs and some sluff off time. In this track, humbly, we were brought to 1-2km per hour.
I am grateful. If there’s something I’ve learned from my foot travels, it’s the marvel of what you think you know being embarrassingly wrong. To eat your words and say, “Well, so much for that.” It gets easier with time. I appreciate that. I enjoy laughing at my expectations, for no matter how useless I know they are, they stay with me. Maybe there is a way to live with them, acknowledge their presents, and tell them to get lost all the same. Maybe it’s good for me to really embrace what sucks about me. In a nutshell, it’s expectations. Yet, perhaps rather than trying to get rid of them, I can learn to be ok with all the parts of being human.
We are greedy, by nature, so maybe that helps us to really shine when we share. We are anxious, so maybe that helps us to be extra beautiful when we open up our hearts. Perhaps we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
I owe the mountains a thank you. Thanks for kicking my ass, and reminding me to loosen those expectations. It only took me a moment or two to accept that I was going to be in these mountains for longer than I’d planned. Only a moment later, to feel lucky for it. Another day in there is a gift.
The rest of it was lovely. We made it to a hut that night with sincere joy. Yes! We got to rest our bones. We had shelter. We had rain water to drink way up there on the ridge. The next day, we caught up to some friends and shared a hut with them. Kess and Tyler. We got to commiserate and share our brilliant ideas in hiking food. Truly, thru-hikers have some fantastic creations.
Now, we are looking at a stretch known for being just as tough and twice the length. My thoughts are this……. it’s probably going to suck wonderfully.