In episode three, I meet Irene and encounter real "trail angel" Kiwi hospitality, something ingrained in the culture.
hike blog

why on earth would you want to create a podcast?

Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.

Rita Wilson
Long distance backpacker and essayist Alison Young reveals the truth behind the unglamorous – but fulfilling –life of a full-time-pedestrian.
In creating a weekly podcast. I bring all my skills to the fore – writing, voicing, editing, producing and backpacking.

So you might have perhaps noticed that I have started a weekly podcast. It seemed like a natural thing to do after exploring audio narratives and visual audio essays during my last two major hikes.

But, to give credit where credit is due, it took my accountability group of three professional actors to give me the permission I sought to follow this crazy idea. I say it that way, because my personality is one that is self-motivated and always follows through. What I need is to be reassured my idea is one worth pursuing and that tends to build my confidence enough to begin moving forward.

I can still see the faces of my brand new friends, Kurt, Elizabeth and Billie Jo smiling with encouragement – and likely a bit of bewilderment since this was the first they’d ever heard of my kooky backpacking fetish. But they appeared to enjoy the few stories I shared and convinced me to follow through in creating a podcast, which at that time, about two months ago, seemed daunting indeed.

To achieve anything, we need to acquire a thru-hiker’s mindset. There’s no way we can bite off all 2600+ miles of the PCT at once. No one would even set foot on the trail. Instead, it’s a matter of steps, one after the other that gets you where you’re going.

hike blog

videos: the glamorous life of a fledgling blogger

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Tallulah Bankhead
DOC workers in New Zealand laughing at me after I tell them it wasn't supposed to rain.
“But it wasn’t supposed to rain!”

SO SORRY loyal followers of blissful hiker for causing a collective scratching-of-heads and momentary clutching-of-pearls. There is no password required to read my musings. NO PASSWORD. None. Nada.

What’s up? You might ask. Well, I’m organizing Anita Hike’s diary, tens of thousands of pictures and video and getting things into a manageable form to present both in public forums and through the written word. I’m also scouring the world for opportunities to continue my hiking quests and keep honing my artistic craft, hence the “sample of recent works” password protected post. It was meant to be a hidden page deep in the bowels of BlissfulHiker.com, but this newbie pressed the wrong key and an email blast went out. SO SORRY!

On a side note, I’ve been quite concerned about my neighbors new dog who howls in anguish if they leave him alone even for a few minutes in their side of our duplex. I can hear poor Murphy bark and moan from my office – and so I imagine he heard me, too, hollering a few unprintable expletives when that email blast was sent. Again, SO SORRY!

For your pleasure – and by way of apology , here are a few videos from New Zealand (WARNING the mud walk video has me saying the “S” word right at the start, please forgive me when considering the circumstances.

‘The African Queen’ redux.

guest post

GUEST POST: Meet supergirl harpist-hiker Emily Granger

Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.

Sarah Dessen
Emily Granger seized the chance to thru-hike the Te Araroa, taking a five-month break from her harp career.
Emily Granger seized the chance to thru-hike the Te Araroa, taking a five-month break from her harp career.

I met Emily Granger a bit by accident while nosing around instagram. The minute I saw this accomplished musician who doubles as a hiking fiend, I messaged her that she’s my absolute heroine. She wrote right back to remind me that I’d reviewed her in the Harp Column and we were (sort of) already friends. A superstar American harpist now living in Sydney, Emily hiked the Camino de Santiago, the John Muir Trail, heaps of Colorado fourteeners and New Zealand’s Te Araroa. Patagonia is the destination for her upcoming honeymoon. Now that’s the way to start a marriage! ~alison

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.

hike blog

TA Day 126, Riverton to Invercargill, 33 km

Again stars were working overtime, but in the grassy dip set aside for Te Araroa tents, dew built up on the alicoop and I felt a chill overnight. Packing up is always interesting with a sopping wet tent so I retreat to the game room/kitchen for tea until the sun makes an appearance.

The Swedish boys smoke and relive the most recent muddiness while we organize at the picnic table. I realize they have no idea what real mud is having not walked the North Island. Friends, I survived New Zealand mud and blissfully happy it’s in my past now. Or is it? On the heels of the finish in Bluff tomorrow, I’ll head to Stewart Island after one of the wettest summers in some time. Maybe I haven’t had my fill.