Monday, March 18, 2013

Slow down...

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Quick recap of the last couple of weeks...

We flew from Queenstown (where we stayed in a five-star golf resort) to Nelson via Christchurch where we were picked up by a shuttle and a DOC guide and Aneika - our guide for the Abel Tasman. We were driven to Motueka where we stayed one night before we were driven to another little town where we jumped on a boat which drove us to the far end of the Abel Tasman. We walked/swam/slept/kayaked/ran/fell down/walked/swam/slept/walked/swam for 50(ish)k and three days then were picked up at the close end of the Abel Tasman and driven back to Motueka. We stayed one night in Motueka and were picked up the next morning by a shuttle that drove us to Takaka where we had the rest of the afternoon and evening "off" to re-pack and do laundry. We slept there and were picked up by another shuttle that took us to the start of the Heaphy track. We walked/ate/slept/walked/slept/walked/swam/ate/slept for 78.6k (50 miles) and four days. We were picked up at the end of the Heaphy track by another shuttle and driven to Westport where we had a day off to do laundry, rest and repack. We were picked up yesterday and driven to a very tiny airport where there is one option to choose from when selecting flights (that's right, one plane comes in and out of this airport), where we were flown to Wellington, on the North Island of New Zealand.

Everything seems to move so quickly that I can't seem to keep up. When we do get an hour or two to do "nothing," I start to get all jittery and worried - like I should be doing something. When we're not walking, I still feel like I should be. I'll be in a car looking ahead and see a hill and think, "Oh NO! A hill!" Not realizing that the car, not my legs, is going to have to do the dirty work. I'm going a little crazy, but my heart is so full of love for this country and the beauty and friendliness it contains. What an amazing gift this is.

We have a day off in Wellington before heading to Taupo tomorrow and starting the Whanganui River Journey the next day.

So if you're able to decipher my cryptic message above, you may have figured out that we have done six of our nine walks (312k, almost 200 miles), and completed the South Island part of our journey. This makes me so sad! Not because I'm not happy to be on the North Island, but because it's such a huge symbol of how far we've gone. I want to dig my heels in and scream, "NOOOO!!!! Everything STOP!"

The tracks: I haven't said much about each one individually because I can't describe them specifically with justice and when I try I get really frustrated. I can only say what people told me before I came here: If you've ever enjoyed a moment of being outside, of nature, of a blue sky, of birdsong, of turquoise water, or of feeling fit -- you must come here. You must experience this place. 
Milford, constantly blowing my mind. 
Heaphy was special for me - day one was a bit of a climb to a hut that is perfectly placed in the saddle of some beautiful mountains. It was an awesome measurement of how fit we've become in the last five weeks. Day two - our longest day, at 24k (15 miles), took us through the largest valleys I've ever seen, to a hut placed about 20k away from the ocean - perfect for a sunset view. A long day - but really, still shocked at how well we all did. Day 3 took us straight to that ocean, my favorite part. The ocean reminded me of home with its unruly waves, but the lush, tropical-ish forests that line the beaches and the fact that the place is virtually untouched are what make it really special. I lingered at the back on our last day on Heaphy - all of it along the ocean - as to take it all in. I loved it there. A friend of mine warned me that the west coast of the South Island was special. I think the west coast of the South Island redefines the term "special." It was home to me.
Heaphy - Day 1, mountains!

Seriously felt like we'd walked to some tropical island. So amazing. 

Our swimming/bathing spot, and the river that lead to the ocean you can see in the background....

Heaphy Sunrise - Day 4

To see the "official" piccies of Heaphy, the video produced, and the pictures my fellow walkers took, click here.

To be completely honest, I'm in a bit of a funk. The fact that we are on the downhill slope of this journey leaves me somewhere between loving it here, not wanting to leave here, and wondering what lies ahead for me when I get home. While I am becoming more fit, I seem to be really good at maintaining the extra 10 lbs I'm carrying from chemo. I know that I've got a surgery soon after I get home as well as three or four more "light" chemo treatments. I'm worried about getting a job and a home and the logistics of being an "adult," and I've still got treatments to finish up. Not to mention the fact that I'm still in New Zealand for four more weeks. For those are you that are concerned about my ability to stay in the moment or enjoy this gift for everything that it is - please know that I've already given myself this lecture about 400 times. Luckily, I've got a lot of time on the trails (and a river) to get it all sorted out before I have any huge decisions to make.

We've been in Wellington for a full day. I love this city... with tons of boutiques and cafes and restaurants it seems to capture the perfect balance of city plus small town with a young, hip feel. I wish we had four more days here (but I would spend way too much money ;-)).

We have had absolutely perfect weather for five weeks. This is unheard of in New Zealand. No rain for five weeks is terrible for farms, but great for tramping. Each of our tracks has included some vast view of mountains or valleys or oceans and each one has provided perfectly clear skies to enjoy the views. That being said, it's been raining since we left Westport yesterday morning and should continue through tomorrow - ending just in time for us to start our next track (I hope, I hope! 100 miles in canoes with rain doesn't sound like that much fun! But really, it's supposed to stop.) We have been SOOOOO lucky!

So we're hopping on another airplane tomorrow at 8:15, shuttle comes at 7am, and we're supposed to be packed and ready for Whanganui. I am not ready to process what any of that means (even though it's 12:15 am), so I am going to pack for the next three day "adventure" at 5am. :)
Doin' St Paddy's Day up right... (I was in bed by 10pm - HA!)




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