That’s the most common question I get when I tell people about my upcoming adventure along Te Araroa. Aren’t you scared?
To be honest? No. I’m not scared, that feeling would totally eat me from inside and kill all the pleasure in everything about the trip. I can’t travel alone for 30 hours to the other side of the world and plan to walk 3000 kilometers with the feeling of fear inside me. That would be a completely unsustainable situation.
I do have a huge respect, though. Respect for the nature and its challenges. For the mountains on the South Island. The dense forests on the North Island. The countless amount of river crossings (no, no bridges…) along the way. For the possums trying to chew their way into my tent at night. The quick changes in the weather and parts of the trail that can be really dangerous to try to master without checking the weather forecast. The long stretches with no possibility to resupply food. For the fact that people do get lost along the trail and some of them have never been found again. But I’m not scared.
But I won’t lie to you. There’s maybe one thing that I actually am a bit afraid of. The dark. Of course, I know deep down that the world around me looks exactly the same at night, as it does when it’s full daylight…but still. I can’t see it and that plays tricks on my mind. The woods are getting absolutely pitch black at night and the feeling that my only source of light sometimes will be my headlamp when I’m alone in my tent, that feeling makes me a bit…scared, to be honest. But I’ll manage.
I was afraid of the dark even when I walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain five years ago, and that time I was all by myself every morning except from the last one, 19 days in a row. My way to handle my fear of the dark back then was to set my alarm clock really early every morning, just to be forced to walk in the dark for at least an hour before the dawn. Some mornings I even turned off my headlamp for the nature around me to become completely dark. You know what happened? Nothing. Nothing but me getting to see all the beautiful sunrises that all the other people, still laying in their beds, missed.
I didn’t regret it one single morning, just as I won’t regret facing my fear of the dark for 150 days on the other side of the world.
…and after all, darkness only exist so you can see the stars shine.