or Life, the Universe and everything…
When you are a thru-hiker, all you do is walk. Everyday. you get up in the morning, pack your bag and go. Life is simple, and revolves around the few things that will answer to the hiker’s basic needs: food, water, a place to pitch your tent when the day is done, and a trail to walk in the morning. (and a place to dig the occasional hole in the ground). The worry level is reduced to a minimum, and intrinsically linked to those previous needs: Will I have enough food? can I get water along the way? will I find a place to camp tonight? Will the weather be good? (and the occasional “Will the ground be soft enough to dig a hole?”) And considering that, while you walk, you have very little control over all those things (you know how many days of food you carry; you can’t change the weather;and the water and tent (and occasional hole) spots are dealt with when the time comes) in the end there’s just very little worrying going on during the days of walking.
Some thru-hikers (the purists, the tough ones and the extraterrestrial ones) walk every single day… but for the common thru-hikers, the trail is punctuated by what we call “zero days”: days when we don’t walk.
There’s no walking done, but those days revolve around walking even so. They are used to prepare and study the next leg of the trail, do laundry, resupply, blog update…..
The worry level is a little higher, as the way the next part of the trip will unfold depends greatly on the decisions we make then…
Those zero days also are based on the primeval needs of the hiker, but this time pushed to the highest level our bank account let us go up to: real beds in hostels, fresh food or restaurants, tap water, flush toilets and showers…!
Then you have the days the most dreaded by the hikers: the forced, unexpected and inconvenient zero day. Usually resulting from sickness or injuries.
And this is what I am experiencing those last couple of days… (20th and 21st of December). I walked into Taumarunui with some painful shins. But I had planned on having a day and a half off, so I didn’t think much of it, being sure that after a bit of rest it would be OK.
So I took the last minute decision to extend my zero days by 2… I am staying at the Holiday Park, far away from town so I am not tempted to walk anywhere. (what I mean by that is walking to this very nice bakery called Anna’s Cafe that was making the most delicious muffins/eclairs/brownies… (and everything else I didn’t try but I’m sure was just as awesome) And I stay in a cabin, to rest properly. (my wallet don’t like it, but my legs do.) All I have to do is walk the 50 steps between my cabin and the amenities block.
The plan was easy:
- rest 2 days,
-let the bad weather go by,
-find someone to do the Whanganui River trip with, so I could give my legs another week of rest while still moving forward on the Trail,
- come back here to do the Tongariro when I am more confident about the state of my chins…
- spend some good quality time with myself to do some deep thinking about Life, the Universe and Everything …
-I miss a what looks like a perfect window of weather to do the Tongariro Crossing.
- I can’t find anyone to share the river trip with.
- and I spend my time reading the book “Life, the universe and Everything”…
I am still having some good rest time, and the alternation of ice on my chins with tiger balm massages, a bit of stretching and elevating seems to do a bit of good … (and that book is hilarious).
So the plan is to walk the 42 Traverse and see how my legs take it … if it is good, I’ll do the Tongariro. If not, I’ll come back down to Taumarunui and wait and rest more time, and will surely by then find someone to do the river with …
Because after all, the answer is 42 …