This past week, I was invited to a three day tramp (hike) in the very south of the Island. I was quickly enticed after googling photos of the Hump Ridge track and knew that I couldn’t pass this opportunity. It was to include 64kms along the coast and through some of the fiordland. I had been told that not many Kiwi’s have done this tramp and only a small percentage of people have visited some of it’s territory as it can only be accessed by walking, or if you were to fly in on a helicopter to the cabin.
So join me on the journey that we took by foot and the thoughts of life’s lessons that I had along the way…
It started off on the beach at 8am. It was fresh and beautiful. We had lots of energy and no blisters on our feet…yet.
I was very excited to be a part of this, as it was one of the things that I wanted to do while here-explore the various landscapes and sceneries! I have hiked before, including some that were over 20km long, but I had never done one to this scale. There were three days in a row and it also meant that I had to carry a pack full of the essentials.
In the preparation for the hike, I was certainly thinking about things that are important to us. I had been given a list to check with various items of sleeping bag, toothbrush etc. Apparently, this was a luxury tramp since the huts had showers ( you had to pay $10 for a three min shower….. worth it!) and we also didn’t need to carry pots and pans with us. Perhaps that sounds fancy to you, but when you have not done those things before, then carrying your food,bedding and some clothes do seem pretty rough and rugged. So thats what I’m going with…the ole woe is me saga. Here is a photo of me with my pack on, 10km into our gradual incline through the fiordland greenery.
Back to my thoughts on what is actually necessary to carry and what is luxury? What do we actually need in life and what are the things we take for granted? Do I need to bring this item? Why is it so important to me? Does it have sentimental value or do I find some sort of security in it? Does having all this stuff in my life add to my identity and what happens if I lost it all, would I be so wrapped up in it that I would lose who I was as well? It reminded me of some countries that I have visited ( and I hate to say it, but America is probably one of the places I have most felt it, although Ireland can be up there too) that are quite materialistic. I must have the latest form of technology ( Iphone 6? wow,that’s like in history museums now..) or I must have my initials monogrammed onto every single thing I own, just in case people don’t know that it’s mine!!!! ( Not that there is anything wrong with these things!) There is nothing wrong with treating ourselves or having nice things, but we as humans, have the tendency to imbalance good things and make them into a race to make ourselves feel better about our lives. Unfortunately, by doing so we are investing in the transcience and not on things that will last. I can certainly raise my hand to buying things that I don’t need, but I simply want it! I guess this question comes down to how much of a hold these things have on my life. Packing a big book, my bible and a journal was heavy and the price I had to pay for something that I deemed worthy to bring.
Another thought in regards to carrying all these items on my back, was about people carrying their baggage around with them. I don’t recommend it but I saw a few minutes of a dating show recently where you had to present your baggage to the potential mate. (I think Jerry Springer was the host so that will give you some inclination of what a terrible show it was!). Anyways, it got me thinking of all the life experiences that we carry along with us but are these experiences the ones that give us sustainance or warmth for our journey, or are they simply weighing us down? That relationship that went sour and I just cannot seem to forgive. That decision that I made that brought chaos to my life and those around me, and I just cannot forget about it! That hand that I have been dealt where I didn’t get the job I wanted, my marriage and kids are not what I had imagined and I just cannot accept my circumstances! It was definately a reflective time for me along the beautiful coastline of the very south of the South Island.
Along we go on our journey as we continued through the ferns and start to enter the enchanted forest. I think they called it that to entice us to keep walking, however, it did look quite enchanted as we climbed higher into the clouds and it settled amongst the top of the trees.
Perhaps you don’t want to know some of my thoughts here, they would have to be censored. When I saw 5km to the cabin, i thought ‘Grand!’. If I had known that my short legs would not suffice for the steep incline and would have to use my hands to climb, then I would have happily rolled back down the mountain and pray for a bear ( which does not inhabit NZ) to come eat me. This reminded me of how life is like a journey and sometimes there are some parts of great adversity, with not much strength to go on and that we want to get over asap. We want that mountain top but we try to avoid the tough bits before we reach it. We want to be that confidant, well experienced, content individual but we don’t want to go through anything that is painful or character building to get there. Sometimes, we are close to giving up without realizing that this is around the corner…
Isn’t it breathtaking and spectcular? Ok, so this is at the top the following morning as when we reached the cabin, we could only see an Irish summit of fog. But what application we can get from that too! Sometimes we are so focused on our current situation that we cannot see long distance. We don’t see what God sees and the reason for the path He has taken us on! But He is trustworthy to guide us to all good things (Romans 8.28), no matter how gnarly the path may get. He will provide those moments of rest, at the top to take in a glimpse of what He has done and how faithful He has been with you along the way.How He has sought out the best path for you, even if it meant that He did not answer those prayers (of being eaten by a bear) in the way you wanted Him to. Life with Him is worth all hardship because He is worthy. And He will use these beautiful moments to motivate you for the rest of the way too.
Well, we are now on day two of the tramp. An 8am start and with 22km behind us and 22km ahead of us for the day’s walking. It is Easter Sunday and thoughts of Jesus carrying his heavy cross after being so badly beaten cross my mind at times. We start our pace and descend,using different muscles to yesterday, trying to not stumble as I click the camera here and there. Here are some of the views we had…
Again, the last 5km were a challenge as my feet were blistered at this point and it had begun to rain. As we sludged through mud, and tried to avoid slipping on parts of an old railway track, we became closer and closer to reaching cabin number two. There is nothing like sitting down after 6 hours of walking! Uncovering my socks revealed several big blisters and I wasn’t quite sure how I would be able to hike the final 20km the following day. However, after a night’s rest we began the final part of the tramp. My feet had been kindly wrapped up by some of the people that I was tramping with and for the first 10km, I did feel like a new woman. Everyone could feel the 44 km on their legs and feet so perhaps overall the pace had decreased. When we reached the beaches again, it was soothing to hear the waves but the biting sand flies would not allow a moment’s rest.
I completed the 20km in 4hrs45mins with blistered feet and without any stopping(due to sand flies). There is no photo of this as I couldn’t have cared about capturing the moment. I simply wanted to sit. I came in alongside of this young lady which made me proud. Anyone who attempts these endeavors are brave, no matter what stage of the line you end at! Perhaps you have read my post about biking and being at the back of the line… which wasn’t the case for this day (but probably will be for another!)
Finally, one of my thoughts include the people that we share life with. I was very grateful for these four families to ask me on their tramping holiday. We could pick each other up and encourage one another along the way, and laugh, and maybe even cry. I suppose that’s what we look to in life as well, those around to support and to care for. We are not as alone as we may think sometimes and I am really encouraged by those who I have come in contact with on my journey of New Zealand. So I guess, keep focused on where you are going and be open to those you meet along the way!