• Kay

Day 158 Too cold for sandflies

Tuesday 17 March Lake Middleton to northern side of Ahuriri River Distance 28km Total 2,500km Steps 40,785 Elevation 800m Weather: initially cloudy, then sunny but cold I take back any complaints I voiced about the heat. I also can't believe it was only three days ago I was sweltering as I walked along the Takapō Canal.

The milky way over my campsite

Right now its freezing. All day despite the clear sky it has been cold. I have kept my beanie on all day. I have watched the sun set over the mountains from my vantage point, camped high above the Ahuriri River. A beautifully crisp clear sky that turned a soft shade of orange on the horizon as the sun disappeared. I can see the first bright star shining, and despite the cold I refuse to close the flap on my tent as I watch the night sky in awe as it develops. I don't think I would ever tire of this view.

The view from my tent

Tonight I have no tree cover and I expect to be covered in frost in the morning. Like last night there is a fair amount of wind, but I imagine this will die down. I am in my sleeping bag with thermals, leggings, socks, beanie and down jacket on. I am so pleased I have my warmer sleeping bag. I think I may have said the same last night. Today has been a strange one. The terrain was as stunning as ever, however until mid afternoon I wasn't appreciating it. I continued to have the notion of looking forward to the end of this. Yesterday I thought it may have to do with the long distances each day that I had been doing, with the majority of it on road. I was hopeful that once in the wilderness again my feelings of tranquility and peace would return.

Unfortunately I had two overriding thoughts. The first was the 28km I thought I needed to do today. A hard enough ask on a flat road walk, but this included an 800m climb and track walking. All I was anticipating was pain and exhaustion. The second thought was whether I should cut this journey short and head home to ensure I was available to support family, friends and colleagues as the world as we know it rapidly changes around us. The terrain was the same it has been for about 3 weeks. Yellow tussock, steep scree mountains and cold rivers. I wasn't inspired. Mid afternoon, despite no change to the type of terrain, my mind set changed. I realised I only had to walk as far as I wanted or could, and I think I had enough distance in terms of time from watching the world implode on the news to recognize going home now wasn't actually going to change a thing. As I was leaving Twizel two days ago I had a call with my sister Denise who lives in London. She asked that I keep writing the blog as she loves the normality of it as the world goes crazy around her. Who would have thought what I am doing now seems one of the more sane things going on in the world. Anyway, I looked up from my feet at about 3pm, and saw a tiny hut across the river absolutely dwarfed by the sheer steepness and magnitude of the scree mountain it sat below. My spirit lifted and the peace was restored. The rest of the afternoon was lovely and I was once again enthralled by everything I was seeing. The sun was lowering in the sky casting a gorgeous golden glow on the already bright yellow grass.

I arrived at the bank above the river feeling more exhilarated than exhausted and I realised once again that it is only my mind that puts limits on my capabilities. I had just proven that 28km on trail, over an 800m climb is absolutely within my capabilities. It is so strange to me that until I start writing I don't know what is going to spill out of my brain. During the day I may have all sorts of notions about what I should mention, but nine times out of ten I write something completely different. Interesting.

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