Epilogue

To: Mark Weatherall, Chief Executive of the Te Araroa Association

The only dedicated road sign on the entire length of the TA near the Rakaia River.

Kia ora, Mark.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me by phone on that cold, blustery and rainy day last March as I holed up in Otautau after an upsetting encounter with an aggressive male tramper. Your calming voice and sensible advice helped me complete the trail in Bluff full of joy and big smiles – a trail I set out to walk four months earlier from Cape Reinga. I am forever grateful that you pointed me in the right direction and sent me on my way feeling strong again.

When we talked, you asked that I share with you a few ideas about how the trail might be improved. I have had the opportunity to talk with trail friends as well as Kiwi trampers to come up with a few ideas that would not cost a lot of money or manpower, but might offer an opportunity for the trail to succeed in even more potent ways.

Epilogue

forest fungus fotos

Fungus was certainly among us walking the Kepler Track in the South Island. Seeing these pictures again brings back for me all those long walks through the bush – especially its rich pungency. Follower Thomas taught me a new word – “petrichor” – which refers to the pleasant odor that fills our nostrils after the first rain following a dry stretch, a heavenly scent indeed. If only I could offer up a scratch-and-sniff…

…and don’t forget to vote for your top three in the avatar naming contest! deadline is this Tuesday…

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Epilogue

TA Stewart Island

I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.

—Emma Stone

The main goal of this five-month leave from work and life has been ticked off the list and there are a few days left before Richard arrives, so I fill the time by leaping over to New Zealand’s third island.

I’m tired – supremely grateful not to be injured or otherwise damaged – but tired to the bone physically and emotionally. While hiding out in Otautau to get behind a couple of trail jerks – I should mention we call those helpful to walkers ‘trail angels’ and this is my polite name for the opposite – I do something positive and forward thinking and schedule huts on Stewart Island’s great walk beginning the day I plan to finish the TA. It’s a short and easy hike and my feeling at the time is this is just about the extent of what I can handle. But I am supremely on the fence about it all. I’m the most fit of my life and now have full-on New Zealand tramper cred. A great walk means crowds – less fit crowds.

But I don’t have enough time for the nine days of the Northwest Circuit and besides, people warn me of ‘heaps of sandflies’ and epic mud. Frankly, my stomach turns at the thought of another week of noodles and tuna to power more bush bashing. But still I’m unsettled heading across Foveaux Strait, a gnawing feeling accompanying growing sea sickness that at the end of my hike, I’m wimping out.