We just go back from our first major “tramp” in New Zealand, the Reese-Dart Track. This is considered a high level class, but since we are so keen on hiking it wasn’t too difficult. In addition to the 75 kilometers of the main walk we did a side trip of about 15 kilometers. It took us four days of strenuous walking. The first two days we walked about ten hours, and the second two days we walked about five hours. My three companions (also my roommates in Queenstown) on this trip are all taller than 5’8”. I on the other hand am barely 5’4”. I have accepted my height and generally I don’t wish to be taller (although I still think 5’6” is the perfect height). For this trip I was definitely working quite hard to keep up with the girls. They weren’t necessarily moving ultra fast, but typically 1 of their strides is 1.5 to 2 strides for me. Tatty made the observation that my legs take lots of tiny baby steps. I was quick to say, “These are GIANT steps for me; your leg span is just 12 inches longer than my own.” For some reason I move quite a bit faster down mountains than they do. Basically I have realized unless I am nearly running I am left alone on the way up the mountain, and if I don’t consciously go slower on the way down I am alone in front of the pack. Either way I am hiking at my own pace for a bit of each walk.
We were blessed with gorgeous weather on the first day, but it didn’t stay that way for the rest of the trip. The last two days we hiked in complete down pour. Luckily New Zealand caters to tramping and they have handy huts to sleep in. Every night after our hike we had a warm, dry place to sleep and refresh. It is funny when you take off your rain jacket and it is just as wet on the inside as on the outside. We were light hearted about the situation even though Ash and I have a phobia of rain since a near death experience in Alaska’s rain this summer. We were fairly good about remembering the nostalgia of rain when we were children, so we turned being cold into jumping through puddles on purpose. Wet feet just became the norm, and coldness reminded us of playing in the rain as children (mostly). I don’t even have that many blisters (well less than ten). On our side trip we walked near a glacier in canyon saddle. This was definitely a highlight of our trip. As we were walking we heard a loud crashing sound, and when we turned we realized the glacier was caving on the mountain. The breakage then created a small avalanche, which is probably one of the coolest things I have every witnessed.
We made a few acquaintances on the trip and they were all sure to try and help us out as much as possible. I don’t think that they knew how much of the terrain we were used to, and how competent in the outdoors we actually are. Ash and I tend to go hiking/camping quite often in much tougher conditions, and the girls (Dana & Tatty) lead wilderness trips during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Our “new friends” soon realized we would be fine when we would tramp passed them during the day and rush to do side trips. I think that we just don’t fit the stereotype of outdoor, but it is pretty fun to play that role as well. I am pretty sure they were just ultra confused. Especially because we would wake up late (around 10am) and brew coffee in our French presses in the morning. We just operate on a very different level than most of the population.
We seem to do best when we are surrounded by nature. It really just allows us to refocus, and realize how good living is. Ash pretty much summed it up as she was walking a very strenuous, nearly vertical track. At the top- done with the climb she leaned over the view of rows of mountains and exclaimed, “I am the luckiest duck! I love life!”