This entry, brought to you by 72℅ dark chocolate..
Do you think eating an entire slab of dark chocolate, well two slabs actually, each weighing 300 grams a piece, in a single 8 hour period just maybe too much chocolate for one day?
This question, among others, have been occupying my thoughts all day.
But: This entry will be about today–maybe just the last five days since I landed on the shores of Queen Charlotte track to start south island.
In that sense it might be even boring; mostly because, to quote a fellow adventure blogger carrotoquin, I am bored to death of this type of writing: jotting down the events of the day, like textual regurgitation of the routine tedium of putting one step in front of the other, even if it happens to be at places that make you pause, even when you are moving two and a half to three miles per hour.
Through hikes are rarely about the actual hiking, you know, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty liar prone to eat the last sugar cookie on Christmas eve.
Still, let’s see what follows.
First I should note that there a number of events that has since transpires since I woke up with volcanic dust in my mouth on new year’s day at the base of Mt. Ngauruhue.
For example: I lost my favorite blue icebreaker hat. I now have a black one. Oh, I also have a new tattoo: my maternal grandpa’s design of a dugout canoe, accented with some Maori symbols.
I have been welcomed into the whanganui Iwi through powhiri after completing Tira hoe Waka.
If the words in those sentences don’t make any sense, please google them.
I am still debating the ethics of writing down what had transpired on the Tira along the Awa and all the conversation I’ve since had with interested parties and the kaumatua who took me there…
(Again, google translate is your friend)
It is February 12 and I think it is a Saturday. Tomorrow’s forecast is rain and I have 8 river sidling (I love this word: it makes you think of river crossing as child’s play, as if you have free reign to run around with sceisors and crayons with your mouth full of cookies, a cool reckless kind of word methinks ) and one major river fording on th cards for tomorrow. Trail notes also say that these rivers are prone to flash floods. I read earlier that I’ll pass a junction to a hut called bush’s edge hut, which was washed out in a flash floods, carrying along with it the two forest service officers who were asleep within.
So there’s that too on the cards–Rain with a possibility of death by deluge.
Let’s not dwell on that, though, because today was one of the most exciting days I’ve ever had on any trail this far. That’s saying a lot since I have hiked thru the state of Maine in all manner of weather conditions.
All in all I think I’ve hiked well near 12,000 ft in elevation change today in a span of just under 15 miles. Sidled a river too and balanced and prayed my way across the highest summit in the Richmond range.it was precarious work, cerebral too.
I love this type of physically and mentally demanding terrain that keeps you on your toe, sometimes on the seat of your pants, consistently over sizable chunk of trail. Real cerebral stuff: you watch your feet, nimbly step over slick root and trecherous rock, you gauge the flow of the water and pick out the point of entry that balances the fun to staying dry ratio for river crossing; you adjust your pack strap and drink the last bit of water to reduce the weight because you there is a 3000 ft climb coming up and u could do without the water because there is a source at the bottom. These fun little calculations are the stuff of thru hikes, folks.
The weather was not ideal but could have been worse: thru the magnificent Rimu lined bush it was just cold enough to keep my gloves and the streams came by often enough to strategize my water carry: Ten thousand feet and I only carried a quarter of a liter at most at any given time.
If that sounds ill advised, consider this: one of more crucial differences between an experienced thru hiker and an casional day hiker is knowing your the limits of your body, mind and gear and trust your ability to take calculated risks.
Normally it’s a terrible idea to attempt to summit the highest peak in the underrated and formidable Richmond peaks with so little water. The terrain, while good and well formed thru the bush line, is non existent in the scree and boulder fields of the Alpine. It would have been thirsty work on a sunny picture perfect day. But today was cloudy and each hut, located ideally between three to four miles, had water. While the MT. Rintoul path did not have any water along the way most of the track had a running stream about every two miles. There was hardly a need to carry the extra weight when you have ample sources along the way and you weren’t about to lose water to your surroundings. Even if you were injured there was plenty of water to make sure you won’t be dehydrated for an entire day, provided you did your due diligence and drank your heart’s content along your hike at those cold, crisp, clean mountain springs
But boy was it foggy. I won’t lie that I had to sort of chant my way to a meditative state to push thru to the last 6000 ft of the summit, scaling two peaks along sketchy terrain in peasoup fog. Often I could barely see my next marker and had to use all my route finding skills to make out faint trace of discoloured rock in a wet scree field. Not impossible but neither was it easy, though always entertaining even if only in retrospect.
I was rewarded though with yet another sublime moment of self awareness as it had happened so many times on the Appalachian trail. That you know yourself and you are capable of executing your decisions.
My name is Amiththan ‘swami bittergoat ‘sebarajah and I am as bonafide a thru hiker as southernfried chickensteak.
The fire is crackling in the food stove and the last bit of moisture is missing out of the logs. It is a curious thing to watch the shdow dance on white washed walls while gale force winds rush through the manuka brush..
Five days innd I’m already 110 miles into south island.
If the weather holds I’ll once again plunge into next swimming hole I find, naked and exilerated, as I have been at every night’s stop in the richmomd ranges.
Let’s see if I can do this section in three days as oppose to the seven to nine as I timated be the new Zealand department of conservation.
Richmond ranges will take your breath away, if you aren’t careful.
MT.Rintoul Hut, TA km 1877.6
And here’s the real thru hiker secret: no amount of chocolate is too much!