Ain't no sunshine
Tomorrow is the first day of summer. And I am excited. It's been a long time coming. And by a long time, I mean a really long time. Six months is usually hard enough, right? Try eighteen months. Yup. Thanks to my sojourn to London over the NZ summer last year, I've been the colour and shape of a pavlova for a while now. It's about time to get my tan on.
The thing is, two days ago I was hiking the Routeburn through swirls of snow. Thunder crashed its way up the valley after me. The cold had frozen solid the water taps at the Harris Saddle shelter. Not the type of weather one expects during the 'summer' season.
A few days previously, I was guiding on the Milford. I lay awake the night before crossing Mackinnon Pass listening to the most incessant rain. It just kept torrenting down. When day dawned, it was the 80km gusts of wind, not swollen streams, that became the primary concern.
And today, as I read the forecast for the next week and my next trip on the Milford, the words "gale", "rain" and "snow" keep popping up. So much for my impeding summer.
What should I worry about first? Getting blown away on the Pass? Bridges getting swamped by the rising river? The slick of snow on the exposed parts of the Track? So many options! As a guide, safety for myself and my walkers is the number one priority (followed closely by the need to carry enough chocolate to ensure aforementioned safety). It's a big responsibility.
You guys are smart. I don't need to tell you that the weather is uncontrollable. So why did I lie awake fretting about it the other night? Probably because I'm your classic Type A must-control-every-single-thing kind of person. I tell you, it's a real chore sometimes.
But seriously, there are so many situations in this new role where I don't have control. I can't stamp it with 'draft' and leave it til later. I might have to backtrack to call in a helicopter for a walker who just can't make the distance. Or the track might do a disappearing act and leave me with a thigh-deep stream to wade through instead. These things aren't part of my plan. But I have to deal with them anyway.
A friend gave me some great advice the other day; control the controllables, and the rest will take care of itself.
Something I can control; my reactions. I can learn how to negotiate with an unexpectedly grumpy and/or slow walker. I can provide encouragement in the easiest way ever when it's raining cats, dogs and the kitchen sink. What gear is in my pack, how I communicate with my team, the amount of chocolate I carry - I can control all of this.
What the weather will actually be doing on Wednesday, what life stories are going to trail behind my next group of walkers, where I am going to be at 2.38pm on 6 August 2016 - these things are almost all indefinitely out of my control.
So. Summer tomorrow. I can't wait. It might not all be sunshine and unicorns. But I'll take it and run with it, deal with what I can. The rest will deal to itself.