Thursday, November 17, 2016. Mitre Peak Lodge. 21kms walked.
Ok, this is going to sound really gross, so look away now if you have an issue with feet, but when I slid into bed tonight, I knocked my big toenail and now its flapping about a bit. I’d bite the bullet and rip the nail off except that I only have blister bandaids on me and can’t be faffed getting dressed and walking back down the stairs to get it treated properly. Instead I’ve attached it back to my toe as best I can with the cushiony blister bandaids, but it’s still throbbing.
In other news, I walked the equivalent of a half a marathon today – and the sun came out.
We just had a presentation ceremony and Paul stood up in front of everyone and said how proud he was of me yesterday. I was so touched that I almost cried again, but I still feel very much like a fraud. Oh, get over yourself, Jo.
To todays tramp…firstly, it was further than 21kms – let’s just get that particular elephant out of the room from the start. Plus it felt longer than 21kms would feel – not that I’ve walked 21kms at any time in the past, but you get the idea. Maybe it just felt so long because we were backing up from yesterday. Whatever.
After yet another night of pouring rain, today started with another brutal downhill. Man, I’m sick of rocks and fallen trees. For the first time in the tramp, my back was seizing up, and it took at least a mile for the lactic acid to work out of my leg muscles.
At the 2 mile mark I had one of the moments where I didn’t quite know how I was going to finish, but an impromptu burst of Meatloaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light with Louise and Julie soon perked up the spirits. You know the part:
I couldn’t take it any longer, I went crazy when the feeling came upon me like a tidal wave. I started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave that I would love you till the end of time…so now I’m praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive…I could go on…and, in fact, did. At the top of my voice. Praying for the end of time is all I can do ooh ooh. Praying for the end of time so I can end my time with you…. It was an impressive rendition if I do say so myself.
I’m really not sure what the guide, Charlotte, thought of our effort, but the 3 of us were still singing as we came into the Boatshed for our mini stop. It was the moment that turned the mood. Suddenly those last miles didn’t quite seem so impossible. Plus, the sun had come out and for the first time since Monday, and the raincoat came off. The ups and downs were up and down, and the flats relatively rock and root free. Just as I like them.
Not only did I manage it, but I managed not to be last (although was in the last boat across to Mitre Peak), and it was managed in reasonable time. And, like day 2, I enjoyed it, really enjoyed it. There was a clear highlight today- aside from the singing and the sun – and that was Giant’s Gate Falls. Just beautiful.
The lowlight? A tangle of trees that had come down in a tree avalanche and blocked the path in a hazard that was almost as tall as I am – ok, perhaps not as tall as me, but certainly half as tall as me and hundreds of times more slippy. Endless gratitude to the ever helpful Storm family for helping me with that one!
We’re spending the night at Mitre Peak Lodge and the views from our rooms are just incredible. Milford Sound has turned on the weather and it’s the best possible end to what has been a challenging tramp. Oh, and best of all – there’s a bath in my room! It might look like an ordinary bath, but to me it’s the best and most luxurious bath I’ve ever seen.
I’m still having trouble eating and keeping food down. I suspect it’s because I’m now over-tired. The word munted comes to mind. If you’ve read Wish You Were Here, you’d know what that means. Breakfast was a challenge, and I managed to keep my sandwich down by splitting it across the morning tea and lunch stops.
Dinner was fabulous – but again, I managed only some of it. I had the blue-eye cod with a lemon butter sauce.
The starter was a smoked salmon salad.
I hung onto my dessert tonight (brownie) so J could have a 2nd helping.
And so it’s done. We finish tomorrow with a cruise of Milford Sound and then the bus back to Queenstown where hubby will be waiting. I’ll probably cry when I see him too. (PS I cried buckets when I saw him…)
I’ve shared this walk with a couple of dear friends and think that I’ve made some new ones as well. This has been a great group – really supportive – and we couldn’t have asked for better guides. I guess that’s why it’s worth doing a guided walk if you’re a tramping novice or need some help…or just like your creature comforts.
On a really personal note, I’ve certainly accomplished something that only my willpower and resilience got me through – it’s been a reminder that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. Mentally this has been a humbling experience; and physically, it’s a reminder that I can no longer rely on inner strength to get me through – my body needs to be looked after in a way that I have neglected to do so over the last however many years. I got away with it on Routeburn Track. I almost didn’t get away with it this time. There’s nothing like a crawl up a mountain to have you accept the consequences of your actions – or inaction – there’s nowhere to hide. I can, however, say that I left a lot that I didn’t need up on that mountain. It’s put so much that was out of perspective back into perspective.
Am I glad I did this? Yes – and not just because it was a tick on the bucket list. Would I do it again? No. Would I recommend others do it? Absolutely.
My experience (especially on day 3) was coloured by my under-preparation, a dodgy back, dodgy knees, an almost crippling fear of falling, and the additional 20kgs I’m carrying. It was nothing to do with age, as plenty older than me who tramp mountains more than me managed the Pass perfectly well. The conditions certainly were a hindrance, but that’s the nature of the weather out here – and the reason it’s all as beautiful as it is.
Milford Track isn’t known as the best walk in the world for nothing, so if you get the opportunity, take it – but if you do the right amount of preparation, you’ll enjoy the tramp much more than I did.