Day 44: Half-way through the North Island
Rest day. I walked up to the Waitomo lookout but that was the extent of my exertion.
Word of the day: Pabulum, food or fodder; material for a fire; food for thought; bland intellectual fare.
Sometime in the last few days we passed the 800km mark – the exact location is difficult to pin down given that the trail route changes so often. But we are over half-way through the North Island, so more than a quarter through the trail.
I have time to reflect on how this feels (creating this pabulum) as we are taking an unplanned rest day in Waitomo, since Tony came down sick in the night and was definitely not up to walking today. He has been sleeping and I have been eating gingernuts – it took only two cups of tea to finish the packet, with some very token assistance from Tony, and I’m too embarrassed to go to the shop to get some more. I’ve already been there three times today.
I have been thinking about how much fitter I feel since the start and how quickly the body adapts and recovers from physical activity. At the end of a long day of walking, I’ve sometimes been sure I wouldn’t be able to move the next day, but by some magic, a feed and a sleep produces a newly capable set of legs. It’s a source of wonder.
It’s only been in the last couple of years that I had the idea that walking Te Araroa might be possible. Before then I dismissed it as outside of my ability. It was only after doing some longer tramps with Tony, ten days at a stretch, that I considered it might be achievable. I was secretly surprised that no one looked askance at me when I said this was on my to do list – other people seemed to accept this was feasible even when I wasn’t sure. I had doubts about my stodgy legs, my unreliable head and my level of endurance. But 800k down, I am feeling more confident. This is possible. I decided not to wear my fitbit as it is just another device I’d have to charge, but according to my phone’s accelerometer, the most steps in a day so far was 13 November- 50,734 steps- and the longest ‘active time’ was 433 minutes on 6 December. That’s a lot of active time, but it’s starting to feel normal.
With Tony under the weather, I’ve also been thinking about whether the emotional labour of the trail has been divided equitably. Up until now, I’ve paid the minimum possible attention to navigation, where we are going and checking out where we will stay for the night, leaving these essentials to Tony while I focus on the admittedly extraneous labour of writing about it. It seemed wasteful for both of us to expend mental energy on planning and knowing where we are. Now I see that this is a useful thing for me to have more than a tenuous grip on. I might even start studying the TA trail notes. Tomorrow I am clear about where we are going (Te Kuiti) but not sure I want to go there. The campsite we are aiming for, in a reserve just south of the town, was reportedly terrorised by locals last night, who did burnouts until the early morning and set the tables at the camp on fire. Sounds welcoming. Not.