another entry from my diary…
There was almost a party atmosphere in the lodge this morning.
We all know that this is it- just 10kms between us and the end.
Just 3-4 hours of walking and, aside from leaving camp (and I use the term camp loosely) via some nasty downhill rubbly shit this morning, nothing particularly onerous to be looking forward to…and I use that term loosely as well.
Having said that, my legs still wobbled a tad when I saw those rocks as we left the Lodge…and my feet walked past my boots this morning and screamed ‘don’t make me go in there again!’
At the bottom of the nasty rocks was Routeburn Flats, and the vista we’d been spying since yesterday afternoon.
Today I strode (the term stride is also relative) off on my own for most of this morning, stopping every so often to listen to the bird song, the wind whispering to me through the trees, and inhaling the complete…freedom.
It occurred to me that if I hadn’t felt so completely broken and stripped bare yesterday, I wouldn’t have felt so completely joyous today. I think it’s something to do with extremes…I’ll get into the deep and meaningfuls in another post.
It wasn’t that the walking was easier- although it was…
It wasn’t that the path was smoother- although it was…
It wasn’t even because the views were more spectacular today than they were yesterday- because they weren’t….todays views were completely different to yesterdays.
It was none of that. It was just that it all felt good. I felt good- even through the muscle pain. At one point I think I might have even said that out loud- to the trees and the birds.
Speaking of which, at one point I had a little brown bird (the name of which I was told but which escapes me now) come and land near the toe of my right boot. I did what Seamus had told us to do- scuffed at the dirt a little to make it curious. It hopped around my foot for a few minutes, by which time some of the others, and Seamus, had caught up.
The little bird skipped on the ground between us all for a little longer as we stood perfectly still, gently disturbing the ground beneath our boots every so often.
Soon after, we came across the first of a number of suspension bridges.
From a distance they looked deceptively solid, yet swayed and rocked beneath our feet as we crossed the rushing stream.
The mood today also seemed lighter amongst the walkers we greeted on the track. Some were out for day walks from Glenorchy or Queenstown; some excited to be on Day 1 of their Routeburn adventure, and as yet unaware of the challenges to come; some, like us, on day 3 and eagerly anticipating the finish line.
Our lunch break today was slightly off the track at Forge Flats. The beach was pebbly, the water clear-deceptively deep in parts- and cold- around 7degC…apparently. Liane (one of our guides), and Judy (one of the walkers) braved the elements.
Speaking on braving the elements, just half an hour up the road, we came across a group of canyoners, kitted up and ready to launch themselves into what resembled a spinning washing machine. No, I don’t get it either.
Knowing that we had just another hour or so to go from here, the mood was relaxed- even from those who normally liked to march off at the front of the pack.
My friend Mish and I completed the last leg together. We’d each had very different journeys, but it seemed right that we finish together.
Then it was onto the bus and through to the pub at Glenorchy for a well earned beer, some amazing hot chips, and a presentation of our completion certificates and photos….before heading back to Queenstown (and more amazing from the bus scenery) for the longest hot bath in history.