I went on my first voluntary (the other time was compulsory and in high school and I tried to take the hair straightener with me) hike that requires a pack recently and discovered I am a lot slower than I thought but maybe also a little bit more capable than I thought.
It was an incredible four days spent exploring the renowned Milford track with a wonderfully lively, lovely, encouraging, funny group of guys and gals.
The third day was undoubtedly the hardest and certainly felt like the longest as we got some unexpected snow. My perpetually inefficient body couldn’t decide whether it was hot or cold so took it in turns to overheat and shiver. The group was really patient with my steadily decreasing pace which I was eternally grateful for, and although I had my camera on me for a lot of the day my hands were beyond the ability to even open the jacket zip, let alone grab the camera from the dry bag. So unfortunately, I have no photos of the the third day after we left the hut. But just the memory of making the climb up to Mackinnon Pass with the snow still falling brings back the same shivery but excited smile I wore for a large part of that day (while also huffing and puffing and struggling my way to the top).
The never ending supply of paths formed by rocks and roots, sunlight filtering through the canopy, and ferns fed a selective yet cavernous appetite for forest dwelling fantasies that started from a young age. Surprisingly, there were too many waterfalls and streams even for my waterfall and stream obsessed brain to fully comprehend.
The final day was filled with many picture perfect little waterfalls like this one, young me and current me were united in gleeful celebration. All of this to say, a) the Milford track is incredible- go do it if you have the opportunity b) do the things you are scared of trying , or want to try but have put off for whatever reason because it can be an incredibly rewarding experience- even if you find out in the shower after 4 days of wet wipes and layering on deodorant that you are covered in irritating sandfly bites that are somehow slowly activating in hot water.