Almost four months on a cosy 28-foot boat with the love of your life, dealing with temperamental weather and an ocean as changeable as a teenager’s mood swings is one of those experiences that make you look at life and your place in it.
I don’t know if I’d go as far to say I’m stronger or that it was a transformational experience – during the sail I often compared to my 3,000km (1,864 miles) walk down the length of New Zealand, which really did change me as a person – but the sailing challenge made me sit up.
I’ve spent no more than a handful of days in a sailing boat. I don’t know if I will get seasick. I forget my port from my starboard. And the toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat.
Yet from May 1st 2022, this will be my life for four months onboard a 28 foot (8.5m) long yacht named Speedwell as my partner Mark and I sail an estimated 2,000 miles (3,218km) around the coast of Great Britain.
Mark has been sailing for more than 20 years so is a dab hand at this floating thing but I’m coming at it new and green – and just a little bit nervous.
Lightening strips of pain burned up the back of my legs.
My lungs were in meltdown trying to support my muscles that sucked up the scant oxygen in my blood, while my heart seemed to be in its death throes as it attempted to keep up with the relentless uphill movement of my legs as I inched slowly closer to yet another mountain saddle.
Five mountains over 1000m high in three days. Classic Te Araroa.
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 →
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 →
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 →