Saturday, 19 December 2015

Home - Of Mistletoe birds.

It's 35 degrees with a Northerly. Total fire ban. The grass is tinder dry and spears unsuspecting feet.  The Creek. I am home.

I've just taken my old dog up to the dam for a swim. He is blinder and deafer, sleeps more, but is still keen to chase the ball and walk in the bush. He lays in the shade, eyes alert, hoping that I'll pick up the ball and play.

When I got home, Pete showed me the chair on the back deck. A Mistletoe bird had been visiting. I've never seen one do this to a chair before.

Christmas decoration. An ending and a beginning. A gift of seeds.I wonder if they'll grow.

To all my friends, to my family, and especially to Alex, Harriet, Barnaby, Laura, Brett, Jackson, Lucas, Nancy, Stefan, Gareth, Nathan and everyone on a trail. Have a safe and happy Christmas. Hope the weather is kind - I know some people that may be able to help with that.

Pigeon xx

Day 48 - Homing Pigeon - Gate 46 Wellington Airport

A friend posted on my Facebook wall 'There is no wrong decision'. That made a lot more sense to me than my friends who believed I would make the 'right decision for me.

I was going back on the trail right up until I woke up in the morning and then I knew that, at least for a bit, I needed to go home.  An extended intermission. Majella was surprised as she was convinced that I would head out again.  I wasn't sure about my decision then and am still not sure  as I wait for the flight home.

Alex and Harriet were the people it was most difficult to tell. They were supportive as I knew they would be, but Harriet said something interesting about hating the trail for doing this to me.

If I'm still uncertain about my decision, I am definately certain that the trail has done nothing to me other than provide opportunities for me to learn about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, what is important to carry with you and what is important to let go of.

Yes, physically a bit of a rest won't hurt before I tackle the South (hopefully get that right leg sorted), and, yes things got a little  complicated when Majella was injured, but I know I have some unfinished business with the trail and the connection I have is still strong.

For the last few days I've been feeling kind of numb though despite seeing and walking in some awesome country.

After Wanganui we headed East to Castlepoint.  Castlepoint is a truly spectacular piece of country. We walked to the top of Castle Rock which wasn't as hard as we thought it was going to be, but it was  windy enough for me to feel unstable on the narrow siding. A lot of self talk  managed to keep the vertigo at bay.

That night Majella dropped a bit of a bombshell on me. It was unintentional and the thought was kind but to say I was shocked and a wee bit frustrated when she said  that she was Ok now and would be able to do the last forest and into Wellington, wouldn't be an over-statement. The trouble was because of where we were, because of the hire car, because of the logistics of getting to the trail head, I couldn't see a way to make it work.  I had an evening of 'if onlys' after that.

Next day we travelled to Lake Ferry and spent the afternoon exploring the Pinnacles before heading around to Cape Palliser, the southern most point on the North Island. The TA doesn't touch this part of the coast and it felt like a bit of a bandaid to get there and climb the steps to the lighthouse.

In the morning we headed to the beach for a stroll. It was one of the few walks we did that didn't have to be defined by a distance or a destination and I loved just ambling along among, picking up different pieces of drift wood that caught my eye, running my hands over their contours, marvelling at the smoothness of the surface. There was a piece that was smooth and rounded on one side but unfinished with crevices and holes on the other - just like me I thought. There are parts of me that have been worked smooth and others, despite being on the wiser side of 40, that are still rough, or yet to be filled. A work in progress.

The weather Gods had continued to be kind to us and we were getting used to people saying how lucky we were and how we'd brought the good weather with us. No luck involved.

On Monday we headed into Wellington. Pete had sent my travel documents on Saturday morning by express post so I was hoping that they would arrive Tuesday or Wednesday enabling me to organise a flight out on Thursday.  We went and saw the ANZAC exhibition at the museum on Monday afternoon, which was very moving and an exceptionally well put together exhibition. It had these larger than life models of people as they were during the conflict complete with the hair, the sweat, the flies, the emotion.

On Tuesday we'd planned to walk the final part of the TA to Island Bay in the South of Wellington. I was feeling a reluctance to do it, and  in my head was beating myself up and thinking that the decision to leave the TA meant that I wasn't a TA walker anymore and i didn't have any 'right' to finish the North on the trail. We got to the part where you start to head up Mount Victoria and I stared to cry - of all the ways I'd thought I'd get here this was not one of them. Then something weird happened, my feet were suddenly very light and it was like I had people with there arms around me helping me up and encouraging me to go up the hill, telling me that it was OK and that I belonged there.

True story.

My travel documents didn't turn up on Tuesday, nor did they turn up on Wednesday. Martin, the manager from Gourmet Stay,  suggested I go to the mail depot to see if my mail was there. No joy, the only thing we were able to confirm was that it had left Australia.

Majella had organised her flight for Thursday afternoon, my passport still hadn't arrived so I said goodbye and bundled her into the bus to the airport. I was getting a little anxious by nowas if it didn't come tomorrow I would effectively be stuck in Wellington over the weekend as there would be no mail deliveries until Monday.

What do you do in this situation? You ask your trail Angels, Murray and Leon and the weather gods for a little divine intervention don't you?

Martin headed up to the mail depot on Friday morning. Martin is a man not to be messed with so when Martin says have a good look, you have a VERY good look. In the wrong mail  bin was the Gourmet Stay's mail for the last two days. Passport secured.

Thank you Martin (and various trail Angels)!

So now it's Friday afternoon and I'm waiting for my flight home.

Still journeying strategically

Pigeon xx

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Day 41 -To Wanganui

I had a restless night not only because my leg was letting me know it wasn't happy, but also because I was chewing over whether I really wanted to get back on the trail or not. There is a very big part of me that is ready to go home and it's not because the trail can be tough or that I don't think I'd make it.

I know I can make it, I've already proven it to myself.  I know I am strong enough and brave enough and stubborn enough to make it through. The questions I am trying to answer are 'Do I need to?' or 'Do I need to right now?'

I am struggling because I am not a quitter and if I stop it feels like a definite 'DNF'.  I've been talking about coming home after the North Island with friends and coming back to do the South Island another time for a while now, but I'm actually feeling that I might be ready to come home now and that maybe my journey needs to head elsewhere for a while.

But I would miss my trail family a lot.

I'm keen to do some art and while I anticipated being able to draw everyday on the trail it hasn't worked out like that. I've carried those pencils every step of the way and looked at them every time I set up camp or got my journal out. A bit like a puzzle that I hadn't been able to solve but hadn't given up on.

I want to see my old dog. I want to dead head my roses.

I've given myself until tomorrow morning to decide.  We walked around the Wanganui shops and I opened some of those little books that have those motivational quotes - most unhelpful. The first one I opened to a blank page, the second to a quote that said I had the talent to follow my dreams.
I asked the teller in the blank and she just chuckled. Pete said whatever decision I make is Ok by him.

As I said - most unhelpful.

I spent the afternoon rechecking my notes, I have some big distances in my plan that probably aren't realistic so rejigging in my head and rather than an impossible 5 days, probably about 8-10 days left of walking to get into Wellington. Also thought  a lot about what more can do to get weight down and what I can send home.

If I went back on the trail.

Pigeon xx

Day 40 - Tongariro Crossing - back on the Trail for a bit (around 19km)

Woke to cloud which was as we expected. Got ready and headed over to breakfast. Ms Gloom and Doom from England was there  'Looks like we picked the wrong day, ' she says.
'The weather forecast says it will clear later in the day' I reply.
'Right when we're nearly back' says Ms Gloom and Doom.
'Well walk slower,' I say.
'I'm actually not worried about the views, I'm just doing it for the walk'
'Well at least you won't get sunburnt then'.
Got my toast and left Ms Gloom and Doom to be miserable on her own.

Despite Ms Gloom and Doom's fears, it turned out to be a picture perfect day, if a little blow-you-off-the- mountain windy across the top. Weather Gods came through again! The Devil's staircase was really a doddle compared to some of the other climbs we had done so Majella rocked it in. The walk out was harder on us though. The descent was over 12km long and my right leg was over it by the end.

We saw a couple of TA hikers coming the other way, including Brett, who I had come across before. I didn't envy them having to climb up our descent with full packs - not one single bit.

Awesome day.

Pigeon xx