Right before the Hauhungaroa range (commonly pronounced by us as the Huanuahua range) we reached the motivational low point of the hike. The trails were horrible, the weather was miserable, our moods intolerable. We contemplated quitting for a few days. We wondered why we weren’t enjoying it. And I tried to answer a seemingly simple, yet complicated question: why am I doing this?
But before answering that question, first back to remotivation. We nailed our lack of enjoyment down to the following causes: 1) the trail hasn’t been highly interesting since the Hunuas ranges, with loads of poor quality trails and road walks 2) miserable weather 3) our tight schedule to make our departure for the Whanganui river.
We needed something to get our heads up again. So we made some choices. Out of the 250km between Te Kuiti and National Park, over 100km is on the road. We decided to drop out on walking along the highways. Walking across New Zealand is an intimate, quiet and distressing experience but walking on the margin of a state highway is most definitely not.
We were somewhat forced to hitch the roads before and after the Huahungaroa ranges. As we walked towards the range, there was a storm predicted and a weather warning issues which gave us a 2 day window of good weather to get through most of the range and inside a hut to sit the worst part out. As the altitude we are hiking on is increasing we are more dependent upon good weather to make it through. Our second skip was to get our boxes out of the post office before the weekend. We had some extra gear in there that will be very useful for the Tongariro crossing.
We got a ride with a groovy senior kiwi lady right to the Pureora forest. For 2 days straight we had gorgeous weather and even a chance to enjoy some peak views! From the summit of Mount Pureroa we looked over lake Taupo and towards the volcanoes on the central plateau. It didn’t take too much imagination to put the eye of Sauron on mount Doom and its smoky surroundings.
The range and it’s pristine forest were amazing. In addition, on our third day in the range we passed over the 1000km mark on the way to the Hauhungaroa hut. I was running on a fever, a happy souvenir from the weather last weekend – but I couldn’t care less at the time. 1000km! That’s a 4 digit number! Amazing!
And on top of that we made it to the cabin right as the storm began. We sat nice and warm inside, having a hot chocolate by the fire as we watched the downpour and the wind picking up. It was a perfect 3 days to get back into it, everything just got so much better. It’s nice how this hike is making us appreciate the simple things all the more: a simple bunk, a wood stove, and a table become the best things that ever happened. True happiness!
So back to the question. Loads of people have asked why I do it. I replied that I didn’t know, but now I do. The trail has been tearing me apart and broke me down more than once already. But every time I pull myself back together, every time something simple just turns a day around I feel alive in ways I have not felt before.
I do it to live life to the fullest, to live a life that feels honest and real. I do it to give in to that inner restless feeling a friend of mine calls “the instinct”: a never-ending drive to go out and explore, to put yourself in an utterly miserable situation because the reward at the end makes it all worth it. And I guess in a way I am also doing it to accept that this is who I am.
Until all fevers, tendons and knees (PJ’s pain point) are recovered we’ll be taking it a bit slower and more at ease. We’ve already met a couple of hikers who needed to take a long break of even quit because their bodies just didn’t hold up. And we want to make it to the end. To the Bluff!
So out with the Purism for now and in with the happy-go-lucky (see jörg’s blog on joerghikesnz.net for the category explanation). Tonight, the happy hiker’s club will be celebrating with a cold beer in Taumarunui.
– by Eef De Boeck