Or as I will always fondly remember it, “Hey this girl’s pack is 25kg!!’.
The good news, I did it! The bad news, I did it the stupid way. Good news again, I think I finally learned my lesson this time...
Day one started off early for me; before noon is early, before nine is self-punishment. I packed up my bag and went to put it on. Don’t you know I had a Wild moment, this thing is heavyyyy. I could however lift it, so I thought, “Well if I can lift it, I can carry it no problem.” First mistake. I started walking to the DOC hut to collect my hut/campsite tickets. I had decided I wasn’t paying $12 for a shuttle to the start of the track, I was just going to walk the extra 5km. What’s an extra 5km when you are already doing like, 15km? Second mistake. It was misty and cloudy out with a chance of rain. Oh goody, I love rain. I got my tickets and walked to the start of the track. By the time I got there I was exhausted. Umm this isn’t even the hike yet. Shit. But what was I going to do at that point? I started hiking from the car park to Brod Bay where I would stop for lunch. After dragging my ass through these beautiful woods for 5.6km (flat and straight track I might add) I arrived at Brod Bay. My AC joints were rubbed raw. Oh well I have had this happen before, so I tucked some socks under my straps to cushion my princess shoulders. I ate some lunch, chatted with a German girl (New Zealand is New Germany basically) and set off again. I thought, “I've done 10.6km, only 8.2 left to go! That’s more than half way there, I can do this! Yay me!”. Fuck me is more like it. Ohhhhh lawddddd. As I said, the track to Brod Bay is straight and flat. The track from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut is straight UP via switchbacks. How I loathe switchbacks. The website said it was a, “challenging climb”. I should have listened. The only way I can describe that ascent with that pack is like hot pokers to the eyes. Maybe half way up a nice couple named Mark and Sarah passed me while I was taking a break; they commented on my large pack and asked if I was ok. I assured them I was. After hiking a little more I ran into them taking a break (presumably to wait and make sure I hadn't actually been crushed to death). I sat down and chatted with them a little. Mark saw my raw shoulders and asked if I wanted help adjusting my pack. I said no, it had been fitted properly and this always happened to me. Third and most fatal mistake. They went on and I eventually limped onwards. I somehow made it to the tree line where I was rewarded with 360 degree views of Te Anau and the surrounding area. It was pretty great. Almost worth the pain.
Well the hut must be just over that hill! Or that one. Or that one….? WHERE IS IT!? By the time I actually got to the hut I was so done, I would have kicked a bunny. I mean it when I say I could barely drag myself in there. I found a bed inside the hut and also a girl I had met at the hostel the night before. We settled down for some dinner and played some cards with other hikers afterwards. The rain did hold off almost the entire day so I was hoping it would do the same day 2. I'm so naïve, it's adorable.
I woke up for day 2 not feeling so hot. My shoulders really hurt. I decided to suck up my pride. I found Mark and asked him if he could help me adjust my pack. He very quickly said yes and with the help of another girl, we got it fitted properly. It made a world of difference (thanks Mark!). I went to eat breakfast and next thing I knew Mark had out his luggage scale to see how heavy my bag was. I want some kind of prize. 25kg. How. Does. That. Even. Happen. Ok welllll I carry 2L of water, plus food for 3 days, plus clothes, plus camping equipment, plus my camera stuff...it adds up quick. I don’t think I will ever be an ultralight hiker, but I for sure now know what I don’t need and isn’t worth carrying (it’s not my camera stuff in case you were wondering, but it is my water filter). I started hiking. My shoulders didn’t even hurt. I’M KING OF THE WORLD MUAHAH Oh look, it’s raining. Oh it’s misty, how moody. I should stop and take some pictures at the top of this ‘hill’. *An hour later* I made it to the top! I'll just take a quick photo with my phone first..
Oh it’s raining…ok now it’s really raining. Hey, where did the view go? Those clouds look bad. And so it began. Four hours on the tops of mountain ridges, rain literally horizontal, pounding the crap out of me. Winds making me question if I should get down and crawl for my own personal safety. I COULD BE HOME WATCHING NETFLIX, BUT NOOOO. There were two emergency shelters along the way which I certainly used to gather my will to go outside again. Had it not been raining I probably would have gotten the best photos of my life. But it was so bad I couldn’t even take my hand off the poles to take out my phone for a quick snap. Grrrrr. Finally, it was time to descend into the forest. But not before going down stairs. In torrential rain. On mountain tops. With a 25kg pack. Eventually I started down the mountain. You guessed it, switchbacks in the rain. I’ll spare you the details and just say I wrecked every muscle in my lower body during those two hours. I also swore out loud, continually, the entire time. Funny story, I had originally booked a camp site that night instead of a bed in the hut. Because I’m a cheap asshole. Lucky for me they had extra beds in the hut and take credit cards because it was still raining and I, along with half my stuff, was soaked and freezing.
I settled in for the night and met a super nice couple named Becky and Myles from the States. They are tattooed and animal obsessed too! Yay! We chatted that night and the next, turns out they have this very original and cool gift company, you should check it out! http://nomadicgifts.com/#themessenger
Day 3 saw me unable to use the stairs properly. It was like the day after leg day x100. Let that sink in. I took as many meds as I safely could and got ready. It was a ‘flat’ day of walking so I didn’t rush and had a late start. It was drizzling and I was hobbling so I didn’t go out of my way to check out the waterfall nearby. I think I might have to do this track again (did I just type that, someone commit me). ‘Flat’ day wasn’t as flat as I was lead to believe, think more little up, little down, again and again. Lots of beautiful, lush forest to walk through and birds to keep me company though.
I hiked the last hour or so with an amazing woman named Pamela; she had sailed across the Pacific with her husband. The entire ocean, they went across it in a sail boat. By themselves. Wut. We had a great time chatting and it made the time go by quicker which was a relief. Turns out they have a blog too! http://www.quietmindendlesssea.com/ We arrived at the hut which sits along Lake Manapouri, I even went for a little swim with some encouragement from the Kiwis who were on the hike. I worked on a couple postcards and hit the hay for my first good sleep on the track.
Day 4. Still crippled. Realizing I had to start hiking again with only one day off, I decided that I would end my hike at Rainbow Reach and catch a shuttle back to town from there. Technically it took 10km off the hike total, but I did extra the first day and my legs were toast. I took my sweet time and was there in about 2 hours. I figured I could possibly hitch a ride back to town with someone, but the odds were not in my favour. I caught the shuttle at 2:30pm for $8 (there was one at 3pm for $12, don’t pay more!) and they dropped me right at my hostel. I hobbled inside, did my laundry, took a glorious hot shower and stuffed my face with fish and chips until I almost puked.