Reaching the halfway point of #WalkNZ

20190201_091943It took me 89 days to walk 1,500km and reach the halfway point on the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

The spot itself wasn’t physically marked on the trail, but according to the GPS trail app it was at a quaint little point next to the pleasant Tokomaru River along Burtons Track in the Tararua mountain range.

The day before, and several kilometres earlier, a large signpost declared the halfway point for the 2016/2017 season but the route changes this year meant the halfway point had changed slightly.

20190131_160451Regardless, the signpost was a reminder of how far I had come in anticipation of this season’s official halfway point.

And I didn’t know what to make of it.

Without a blazing sign congratulating me on a job well done at the official point for this season, it was something of an anticlimax. There was no one with me to pat me on the back – it was just me, a forest and a gurgling river.

I’d been walking for two hours ready to “cross over” and all that time I was thinking, wow the halfway point, it’s coming up.

Did I expect to feel different when I reached it?

Every few steps I checked my GPS location, the tension and excitement palpable.

And then I was there – and it was just another part of the trail; nothing to make it standout, no different to the bit before nor the bit after.

I stood for a moment, waiting, not entirely sure for what.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to make of it apart from the fact that a few steps on I was now officially closer to the end of the trail than the start. And that was just weird. I didn’t really know what to make of that either.

Ten minutes on, I came to a clearing where I stopped for morning tea.

20190201_100902As I chomped on a white chocolate and raspberry Bumper Bar, I pondered how I felt.

So, ok I’d walked a fair distance (1,500km is a fair distance in my estimation) but did it really mean anything in the scheme of things?

It had been a hard 1,500km – brutal and demanding both physically and mentally. I was still scarred from the Raetea Forest 12-hour mud experience. My feet and legs and shoulders still hurt. I had muscles now but my pack still felt heavy. I still puffed when I walked uphill.

I didn’t feel like a long-distance walker, although technically I could now call myself that.

I knew I had achieved something amazing but for some reason I didn’t feel it was particularly noteworthy or even worth celebrating.

Reaching the 100km and 300km mark – even the 1,000km mark – felt bigger than the halfway point – I think because I was still a couple hundred kilometres from reaching the bottom of the North Island, which, sort of in a way, felt more like the official halfway point.

In fact, when I thought about it, even though I was now closer to the end of the trail, I still had a long way to go – and the second half was going to be tough; tougher than what I’d already done.

I’m talking tall mountains, river crossings, remote wilderness, long stretches between resupply points, more danger. And I was hitting the South Island late in the season and I was solo.

And given that I didn’t exactly feel superhuman with my current achievement, that I still felt like I had my learner’s licence, I had to admit I was scared of what this second half would entail and whether I could cope.

I was suddenly overcome with self-doubt and felt completely outside my comfort zone.

What if I couldn’t even make the next 1,500km?

I mean it took me 89 days to get this far – that averaged out at not even 17km a day. Woeful, if I wanted to get into comparisons.

Did I really think I was good enough to complete Te Araroa?

I had a wobble; a moment where I doubted everything.

It dawned on me that up to the halfway point I was focusing on the first half and avoiding thinking about the second half with its big scary mountains and remoteness.

Having crossed over to the second half, I was now forced to think about it. I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

I felt the fear but also realised that worrying about it wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

Before I started #WalkNZ, when I sat in the back of the car on the drive to Cape Reinga three months ago, I was worrying about the first half and yet here I was at the halfway point.

And all I did to get here was put one foot in front of the other.

That, I knew, I could do.

The second half was no different.

I hefted my backpack onto my back, felt its weight on my continually bruised shoulders, and placed one foot in front of the other and headed off into the forest; slow steps towards the bottom of New Zealand.

20190131_161057

15 thoughts on “Reaching the halfway point of #WalkNZ

  1. Great to read you were half way by the Tokomaru river. We lived at Tokomaru for many years and the river where it comes out of the hills meant lots to us. The summer swimming hole, our family planting by the river with Scouts and Guides, Brownies etc.and in memory of daughter Anita. Also taking the local Cub pack camping by the river, and all the fun they had.

    Back in 1970 I even drove my wee A30 car through Burton’s track to Shannon. We had gone up there to gather ferns etc for the Tramping Club dance decorations and could not get back as the track had become blocked by another car.. So the only thing was to go forward, quite an adventure crossing the streams, squeezing past slips etc.

    Love Graham and Lyn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Katrina you are amazing! You are on an epic adventure. South Island will be a challenge but you can go it! You have come this far and overcome lots of fears and worries, you do have worries about the second half but so would most people it will be challenging. You can do ! Positive thoughts. 😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Katrina

    We all have our self doubt, for me it is to write a message to you, the person who can put into words her emotions, feelings, thoughts. Paint a picture in my minds eye, following you on your blog made me feel that I was there with you. English being my ” second ” language, I always feel inadequate and try to avoid mailing people, I’d rather have a chat on the phone or face to face. However, this time I feel the need to let you know how much pleasure I have in reading your blog. I am amazed at what you have achieved, just the thought of walking 1500 k. By myself. If it was only walking I probably would be OK. But climbing hills, mud, cows, strange people, rafting down a river.

    I think your absolutely amazing, and feel that you can be very proud of yourself. I hope that you will have a nice time with your parents in Wellington before you set off on your next adventure. As you say, just one foot after the other.

    Thinking of you

    Williexx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally understand this feeling you have. I’ve been ‘long distance’ walking every year since 2011 and even now I still go through those negative feelings of being badgered and harangued by self-doubt.

    I too had a river crossing to complete on my very first walk. It was an estuary and so had to wait on the beach for 6 hours long hours for low tide to arrive. As a result it was nearly 10pm and darkness had fallen when I needed to cross. I was terrified! I had been told to expect to get my knees wet. In reality, I got wet up to my knickers and the tide pulled ferociously at me as it continued to recede. After half an hour, I reached the other side, in awe of what I had just achieved… and had feared for so long.

    It was this river that had mutated into an unmanageable and ‘untameable’ beast in my head. Yes it was tough. But it wasn’t unmanageable. All those weeks spent pushing it to the back of my mind or worrying how I was going to survive were both useful and useless. We do need to feel the fear… but only for as long as it takes for us to risk assess what we need in order to fulfil the task safely. Any more than this and we tend to slide into the self-doubt and self destruct mode.

    You’ve got this Katrina. You are clearly a strong, determined and adventure-seeking woman and without a little fear, you wouldn’t have reached this point. Keep the fear close but try to see it as a garden tap that’s been accidentally left running… the water is necessary to keep everything hydrated and full of vibrant life and colour. However, every once in a while, you’ll need to consciously turn off the tap and stop the unnecessary flow. Too much water and the garden becomes a bog. The bog becomes doubt…

    Don’t let your fear/doubt tap run too long and bog you down. Hugest of congratulations! This IS a big achievement. 😊 👏👣

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The half way point is simply a way-mark in the scheme of things. Each of the little flags you pass on your map marks a success. You have dealt with the obstacles and difficulties between the flags and you have prevailed. Your goal was not to reach the half-way point but to get to Bluff so I am not surprised you felt a little empty on reaching it. Yes, you finally arrived at this point and yes it is a wonderful achievement, but the prize is still to be claimed. The South Island is only scary because of the length of the section to St Arnaud. You arrive in the South Island and Boomf, you are straight into the serious mountaineering. It is the longest part without the possibility of a dairy to resupply. You are worried about the weight of your pack. But you are going to the South island in excellent physical condition. You will be eating your food as you go and your pack will get lighter and lighter. Not long ago you walked the Kepler and the Routeburn back to back when you were totally inexperienced and not nearly as fit. You know in your heart you can do this. It will have hard days, but you know you can overcome those bad thoughts. You know you can trust your judgement in dicey situations.And you have the good safety equipment, One foot in front of the other. You know, and we know, you have the grit to prevail. Kia Kaha. X

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The South Island of #WalkNZ begins: Introducing the Richmond Ranges | Katrina Megget

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