As I may have mentioned before, we are about to become empty nesters…In early Feb, our youngest is going to university in the South Island, along with his brother, leaving myself and hubby to start a new chapter in our lives.
I anticipated that we would be feeling a little off-kilter when the boys are gone, so suggested we give ourselves a challenge in the form of a four day hike called The Milford Track. It advertises itself as ‘the finest walk in the world’ and is one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ at 53.5km long (one way).
This is a long way. Now, I’m reasonably fit but am aware that I need to build up to this, so last week hubby and I undertook a couple days ‘tramping’ / hiking /rambling in the Tongariro National Park. The aim was to to see just how much training we need to do for this four day-er…and whether we would actually be fit enough to enjoy the experience!
So we headed down to the National Park ( a 5 hour drive) and watched the clouds form and the weather deteriorate the closer we got to the mountains…
We had planned to do the Tongariro Crossing on Tuesday and then a shorter walk on Wednesday, but the weather gods had different plans. When a gale force wind was forecast all shuttle buses to and from the start of the Crossing were cancelled, so we had to switch round, which meant the shorter walk came first. It was still 17km… but took us through amazing scenery in this alpine area.
It was literally freezing (around about 0 degrees celsius) but so beautiful. And, as with all great hikes there was way, way more UP than there was down…or that’s how it seemed. What a feeling, though, when we arrived back at the hotel, tired and aching, but we’d done it! 17km!
And had to do it all again tomorrow, plus a little more… we asked around and the weather forecast was still pretty doubtful. There were 50kph winds at the top of the trek and rain was imminent…we were told to phone again early the next morning. (And I did wonder about just how much effort we were putting in to doing something that was inevitably going to be hard!!)
The next morning we were lucky. There was one van going up at 7am and and one at 8am and there were places on both. (In fact, there were lots of places on the 8am one- being as we were the only ones on it!) So, with a little trepidation on my part we set off.
And, fortuitously, because the forecast had been so awful, what was usually a very busy walk was a very quiet one. Once we got above the clouds the sun came out and the view was breathtaking. Lucky us!
We climbed and climbed and climbed…if there are any eagle-eyed Lord Of The Rings fans reading, yes, that is Mt Doom with a whisp of cloud.
I thought the UP bit was hard, but the down was treacherous! The snow gave way to shale and sand that made you lose your footing, and slipping and sliding was the only way to go. But it was great fun and we managed the down a lot faster than the up!
Then the path became a lot more stable and we followed it through wide open country, dropping down into bush, then finally- to the shuttle car park,19.4kms later… and in 6 hours! (The average time is 7-9 hours!!)
By the time we got back to the hotel we were stiffening up and a celebratory beer was called for. All in all a good couple days’ work. And we learnt that yes, we need to do quite a bit more training- but, in actual fact, that’s the fun bit!
Have you ever set yourself a physical challenge? If so, what was it, and was the best bit about it? (Plus, any tips on empty nesting?)