…even though the correct English version of “Der Weg ist das Ziel” seems to be “The journey is the reward”. The Te Araroa is 3,000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff, yet the next months will not be all about reaching my destination Bluff by foot but rather about the trail itself.
When talking about my plans in the last months, I got all sorts of reactions. Taking a time out or sabbatical seems to be widely accepted today but hiking 3,000km by foot, carrying my tent, gear, food, water is something not many people can relate to. I got immediate support from my close friends, it seems they got used over time to my ever wilder hiking holidays. Even though most would never ever want to do it themselves, they get why I want to be out there. Questions about how and where I will sleep, if I will be on my own,… raise some scepticism or astonishment and sometimes they might actually think I am crazy. My parents told me right away that I am crazy (but somehow have accepted it now even though for sure are worried). Acquaintances or strangers are pretty much bewildered and sometimes admire my courage.
Now, I myself would say that I am one of the least courageous persons in the world, at least when I am not feeling well. I can be afraid of many things in every day life; to make phone calls, talk to strangers, rather accept not getting something than arguing for it. I hate asking someone a favour or for support, even friends. I cannot stand up for myself… All of this makes my personal and professional life sometimes very hard and becomes a huge problem of further self-deprecation.
On the other side, I feel confident when it comes to physical efforts. I am hiking a lot for a few years now and being stubborn helped me already achieve some goals, ignoring (or accepting) even pain. So I am not afraid of the difficulties for my body to hike 3,000km with a heavy backpack. I also know that I can endure cold or rainy weather and non existing comfort. I know I will sometimes long for my own bed etc but I also know that I can endure it. At least if getting in exchange what I am doing this for: being outside in this beautiful nature, awake from birds singing and enjoying early morning sunrises from still damp hills, feeling comforted by trees and forests, feel my body after a long day of hiking, looking back at hard hiking days that eventually made me stronger, not giving up, have my mind become completely relaxed after days of hiking which comes close to meditating for me, cooking dinner I carried for days on my own stove, cuddling up in my sleeping bag and watch the stars, meeting other like minded hikers. Grow and become strong.
What is my biggest fear is not the part where I just can rely on my body and my stubbornness to continue. I am afraid of the things that involve others. Having to organise things, make phone calls, ask some fishermen to take me with their boat to the other side of a river, hitchhike,… And this is something I will have to do right from the start to get from Auckland to Cape Reinga. I know from the past that eventually everything works out, but my ultimate goal for this trip is to overcome the fear that accompanies all these social interactions.
So here’s to the “why” of the trail – and probably my most personal blog post so far..
The Te Araroa might be the trip of my life and I am very curious to see how it will actually develop itself and become something unexpected. I am scared but also so excited to get finally started. And in the end, my friend Peggy will be joining me for the South Island so it’s only half of the trail I need to be afraid of 😉