The magic finally hit me on a plateau before Lake Tekapo. We were eating our dinner on the flat slopes, looking down at the lake framed in glaciated peaks. Somewhere between the satisfaction of having what you need and the grandeur of mountain valleys at dusk, I got that tingle down my spine, that breath spiraling inside my chest, that makes me feel most alive.
I think ‘This. Exactly this.’ These are the moments I’m after. The gift of being at home in nature.
This trail never stops surprising us. We keep congratulating ourselves for getting through the big things, just to find there’s another one coming. Things like dangerous (allegedly) river-crossings, which would be a 150 km hitch-hike around if you can’t pass them. So often this trail is mapped to the edge of a waterway, lake, river, straight, estuary, what have you, and the kilometers stop counting on the north side, and then resume on the south. As if the space between doesn’t exist. Then you have the reality of how different things are in life than on paper.
It’s good for us. We take this trail one section at a time. Carrying only the maps to our next substantial town stop. I feel knocked off my cloud when other hikers tell us what’s ahead, or how far it is to the next hut. Like they’re spoiling the plot somehow. It’s silly, I know, but I enjoy the problem solving, and I want to be on my toes. I want to have reactions, not plans.
People ask me all the time, “What do you want to get out of this.” I haven’t come up with an answer to that. I feel a need to tell them to un-ask the question. This is just as much about everybody as it is about me. This is about being, not wanting. There isn’t much room here for getting or having. Which is something I’m learning more and more when I walk with that concept we call ‘loss.’ It’s about smelling as much as it is about seeing, maybe more, and most of all, it’s about feeling. Still, I don’t set out with something to gain in mind, I hope that it can be something to give. To be. Me and the things that are.