Lessons from 30 days of tramping
So it turns out that tree roots are entirely absorbing. There I was, 17 days of tramping under my belt, in the perfect setting for a relevation on the Next Step. And what had I thought about? Tree roots. Bogs too. Birds, sometimes.
Prior to setting off, I had mapped it all out. I would partake in some active meditation as I hiked through the green of Fiordland bush. Be struck by clarity as I gazed across the mountain tops. Sally forth to overseas adventures with my future career safely tucked in mind.
Instead, I learned something else.
In place of eureka moments, I took in the quiet of the present. Every time I started musing the place of law in my life, I was interrupted by a bog in need of navigation. Whenever I turned my mind to my next blog post, a sharp hill took away my breath and all thoughts with it.
So it wasn't with my own willpower that I finally absorbed myself in living the now. It was the rugged peaks of Fiordland and the sand dunes of Rakiura that finally swayed me to give myself to the present.
Over the period of two months, I stacked up 30 days' tramping on five different tracks. My own two feet carried me further than 350 kilometres. I became a dab hand at making porridge in a billy, slept midst an orchestra of snorers and donated more blood to sandflies than I've ever given to the NZ Blood Service.
In short, it was a long time to concentrate entirely on nothing but tree roots.
Still, I loved it. I can appreciate that some people may not share my excitement at trudging in circles with a 20kg pack for two months. But through this experience I had a cuppa with a pair of hardy hunters, chatted to a kiwi just before breakfast and caught a blue cod off the rocks in Dusky Sound. My days moved slowly and simply. A win comprised of finding extra chocolate at the bottom of my pack. A fail entailed getting myself stuck in an unyielding patch of mud.
I learnt, or rather re-learnt, nature's power to take away the fuss of life. Mountains don't particularly care whether you are tired, hungry, joyful or searching for answers. Trees will plonk themselves right in your path, and just a bit further on rain will turn that path into a stream. The hut definitely won't have wifi, but hopefully the water tap is inside.
As I said, my days moved slowly and simply. Yet what days they were.