Why pushing pause on #WalkNZ doesn’t make me a failure

20190309_095443Three weeks ago, I had to turn around and walk back into civilisation when poor weather conditions and a dodgy leg forced my hand and I couldn’t make it over the second highest point on the Te Araroa trail.

I ended up in Hanmer Springs, a spa resort town in the South Island of New Zealand, for a week, eating a lot of food (notably the spectacular cinnamon swirl buns from the local bakery) and visiting two local physios a total of three times about my bung leg.

The intention was always to get back on the trail.

But when a week rolled around and the leg was no better, it was clear I needed more time off. As it was, I couldn’t see how I could walk for eight to ten hours everyday on it on the trail when after a mere 15 minutes of strolling I was in pain and hobbling (and that was without the beast of my backpack on).

It posed something of a dilemma. Continue reading

Starting is the hardest part – the secret to starting

It was a two-hour drive to Cape Reinga for the start of #WalkNZ, my 3,000km solo walking adventure along the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

Dad drove. Mum sat up front. I took the backseat, staring out the window as a diverse landscape whizzed past the car windows.

Thoughts also whizzed through my head.

Thoughts that asked me what I was doing, what I hoped to prove. Thoughts that questioned my sanity, my physical and mental ability.

Thoughts that probed to the depths of my soul about whether I was really ready and good enough to take on this epic trail all by myself, with no experience and extremely limited training.

I was scared. Petrified of failing and doubting everything.

And then the what ifs started – what if I got caught by the high tide and I got stranded and couldn’t get to the campsite tonight? What if I got lost? What if I couldn’t put my tent up by myself or it blew away? What if there was no water supply at the campsite? What if I couldn’t get my camp stove to work? What if I’m totally out of my depth? What if, what if, what if… Continue reading

Vlog 1 of the #normalisefailure campaign

It’s been three months since I last did a vlog (you can see them on my Facebook page here) and boy was it a little bit scary. What if I stuffed up or sounded stupid? Could I really do it? Was I good enough? What if people didn’t like it or thought I was an idiot? What if I failed?

And that, my friends, is the whole point of my #normalisefailure campaign; to recognise that failure – as it is generally known in a negative way – is a normal part of being human. And yet so many of us – myself included – are scared of it and its implications.

For this reason, I’m seeking to normalise failure. Every week, I’m going to review what I’ve “failed” and publicly put it out there on my social media for the world to see. And then I’m going to congratulate myself on failing, note that the world hasn’t ended, and see if there is a different way of looking at it.

It’s sort of like keeping a gratitude diary but in reverse. For me, it’s about shifting my thinking from fearing failure and beating myself up about it to being proud of it.

So here, in all its cringe-worthy glory, is my first vlog. Follow the campaign with the hashtag #normalisefailure

 

 

Life after #WalkNZ: Return to normality

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I went to the dentist on Monday. Over the weekend I went clothes shopping for the boyfriend and filled a skip with junk. I drank gin and tonics on Saturday night and the other week I voted in the European Parliament elections.

You can’t get much more normal (or dull) than that.

Life in South London is a world away from walking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.

I’ve been asked so many times (that I’ve lost count) what it’s like to be back. My answer is the same – it’s all a little surreal. Continue reading

10 things I learnt about self-doubt walking the Te Araroa Trail

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I’d just returned to Auckland after being forced to push pause on my #WalkNZ adventure after injuring my knee at the 2,000km mark.

I was catching up with friends and family and one friend asked me: “So how’s the self-doubt? Do you think you’ve conquered it now that you’ve walked 2,000km down the length of New Zealand?” Continue reading

Life after the Te Araroa Trail: Re-entry into society and post-adventure blues

20190414_115546On the outside I look normal.

I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt – clothes I bought from a fashion, non-outdoors store. My body smells perfumed and clean; my hair, washed and shiny. Black pencil lines my eyes. There is red rouge on my cheeks.

My tan has faded while my muscles retreat behind a new cuddly layer of fat.

For all intents and purposes, I look like a regular run-of-the-mill person. Certainly not someone who has walked 2,000km of the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

But outside appearances can be deceiving.

Because inside me, long-distance trail walking oozes through my blood. My legs twitch. I dream of solitude and lonely mountains, the gurgling of streams, the feeling I get from walking uphill or busting out more than 4km an hour along a flat stretch of road.

The inside and outside are opposites of each other. I feel off kilter.

I’d been warned about “re-entry” to society after finishing the Te Araroa Trail. Like the rest of the trail, nothing can quite prepare you for it. Continue reading

Day 126 of #WalkNZ: Injury in the Nelson Lakes

20190307_080159It’s funny how long-distance walking undulates mentally as much as the mountains and hills that I hike along the Te Araroa trail.

Last week, I was ecstatic that I’d completed eight days in New Zealand wilderness in the demanding Richmond Ranges in the South Island.

This week, I have a dark cloud hanging over me after having to turn back and bail from the Nelson Lakes after poor weather and injury struck. Continue reading

The South Island of #WalkNZ begins: Introducing the Richmond Ranges

20190301_122929I’m alive!

I can’t quite believe it but I survived eight days in the remote New Zealand wilderness walking up and down a lot of steep, tall mountains through the Richmond Ranges.

This was classed as scary shit – the Richmond Ranges are dubbed the toughest section in the South Island on the Te Araroa trail.

Naturally, I was totally freaking out about them. Continue reading