Who would expect that our holidays might in any way resemble the routines of our everyday life. Well, that’s what happened. The Te Araroa Trail absorbed all the time we had, and the expedition itself started to have less and less in common with what we know as “holidays”. At least with the ones that average human dreams of…
Comparing our trip to working two jobs seems appropriate. We do realize how odd it may sound to people living they everyday in Gdańsk, Gdynia or Warsaw. That is why we feel the need to describe the standard day of a TA hiker.
At the beginning of our trip we were getting up at 6-7am. We brushed our teeth, packed the tents and all our belongings. Then we warmed up our muscles and hit the road around 7-8am. Both at the beginning and at the end of the trip our mornings looked similar. Despite, as the days went by, we gained some practice in everyday activities, we almost always needed an hour before we could start walking. Even when we were sleeping in huts, the morning was still a monotony known to us all from the autopsy. We usually agreed on the hour of departure the day before. It depended on the distance we had to walk, the weather, where we aimed to stay – whether we would have to pitch our tents or compete with others for a place in the hut. Thanks to the trail notes, we knew more less what we can expect on the next section, e.g. what is the predicted time and whether it will be muddy, rocky or farm section. All this information allowed us to estimate the time of the hike, and thus decide on the time to leave the previous camp.
At the beginning of our trip, the distances we were covering were a bit shorter compared to those that we could walk later. No surprise – we were building up our physical form, learning to interpret the trail notes, we were working out the best habits to improve the repetitive activities. Therefore, before the first 1000km, the time spent on the walk usually ended around 4pm. As soon as we left the trail, we were setting up our tents, then preparing food, stretching the muscles, and if possible, taking a shower. It took us usually about 2-2.5 hours. One could say that at 7pm we were free. Not at all. During the next hour we were writing the notes and analyzing the next section. Later, if necessary, we were going to the supermarket to resupply for the next days. It usually took us another hour. Later, we were usually taking a while to write a blog post, put some information on Facebook and upload some photos on Instagram. And suddenly it turned out that it was already around 10pm. It’s time to go to sleep. And we needed a lot of sleep. TA is a terribly exhausting trail. Therefore, the possibility of regeneration of both body and mind was one of the most important elements of the hygiene.
After 1000km we have gained much more self-confidence. Our physical form has improved. We started walking longer sections. We got familiar with most of the threats and difficulties on the trail. We learned how to deal with them. More and more huts appeared on the trail. We could walk for 10-12 hours and cover up to 35km a day. Thus, we started to reach our destination at later times (around 6-8pm). Unfortunately it was done at the expense of some of the responsibilities that we initially imposed on ourselves. We had to eat and plan the next day. The easiest way was to give up blog posting and Instagramming. And despite we tried to incorporate these activities into everyday duties, it was getting much more difficult. The farther we walked, the less often we had the cellphone signal. More and more often we were physically exhausted. Especially on the South Island where we spent most of the time in the mountains. Walking with a backpack weighing about 15-20kg, it is easy to understand that at the end of the day we did not have the energy to stare at the screens of our phones. It was much more fun to look back, look ahead and compensate our physical effort with stunning views. There is something unique in the mountains, something that gives this great satisfaction. The moment, when after 10 hours of climbing (let me remind you about carrying all our stuff the whole time), you can sit on the top and think – “I beat this mountain”, “I overcame my weaknesses”, “5 hours ago I was down there” “It’s beautiful, it’s worth it”, is one of the most beautiful moments. And you want to enjoy it. Remember as long as possible. Absorb.
We did not even want to think about posting something on our blog. But now things changed. We have more time and we intend to describe our entire adventure. We have ambitious plans for publication. We promised ourselves that we would fill all the gaps. We want to complete our multimedia chronicle. Now there is time for it.