24 October, 2019
A few days in Hawaii would be the perfect start for a new adventure, but the truth is I’m a ball of nerves. I have planned an expedition, a journey, a pilgrimage of sorts. If you were to ask me why, I would say because I can, because I like walking, because why not? I’m going to walk the length of New Zealand from north to south or thru-hike SOBO (southbound) as the experts call it. I’m going to see the country where I first learned how to travel solo and I’m going to explore it by foot.
When I landed in Hilo for a five day layover, I took a deep breath and tried to be present. For I was finally on my way after only a few weeks of planning, organizing, ordering gear, reading blogs and Facebook posts. I spent only a few weeks in this phase where many of my fellow trampers may have spent months or years counting grams and testing the best water filters and sleeping mats. I felt discombobulated with the time change and a sense I was forgetting something.
I rented a car and spent four days driving around the Big Island of Hawaii, hiking where I could, training my feet and my back to carry my load. Rainforest, beaches and volcano craters be damned, I carried that beast of a pack everywhere, constantly second guessing whether I could manage the weight over 1800 miles of New Zealand’s strenuous terrain. My mind was not in Hawaii – it was already lost in the muddy forests of the North Island and the alpine tracks of the South Island.
From the easy rainforest walk at Akaka Falls to the challenging and spidery (meaning a lot of spiders) jungle trails in Hamakua Forest, from the green sands beach at Papakolea to black sands beach at Punalu’u to white sands beach at Hapuna, from the laidback cafes of Kona to the hippie vibes in Hilo, tourists were fully enveloped in the holiday atmosphere while I clenched my teeth and made lists of things I still needed to do. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed sunsets and sunrises and some incredible views from north to south with a cocktail in hand all while fretting that I was woefully under-prepared for a potentially dangerous adventure.
I told myself the goal was to start and to make it to the first camp. That’s all I had to do. You can bail any time you want. Just start. Oh and try to enjoy Hawaii. Deep breath. Enjoy paradise for a few days. You can worry about the details later. Ok, I’ll try.