I’m trying. I’m really trying to accept the fact that I’m not hiking anymore. That I’m going back to a normal life in Sweden in a couple of weeks. It’s bittersweet. I’m genuinely happy that I’m done, I don’t wanna walk one single meter in the mud anymore…but on the other hand, I miss the “easy” life on trail – to wake up when the sun rises, walk from a to b and go to bed when it’s dark (or usually earlier). A huge part of me misses my routines though, and I’m really looking forward to coming home to my family and friends. Confusing.
The hardest part is not the confusion, though. It’s the fact that I don’t understand what I’ve done…well, I know I’ve walked 3000 kilometers, but what does it mean to me? And why are the memories blurry already, why can’t I really remember what I did between October 30 and March 8? I need to sit down, look at my thousands of photos and read all my journals…’cause right now, it’s kind of faded away.
Everyone else I talk to seem to understand, though. They can’t believe it and keep telling me what an achievement it is to walk the length of an entire country…especially people living here who haven’t seen even a tiny part of what I’ve seen along the way.
I received an email from a woman I met just before the Tararua Ranges on the North Island, the part when I had the scary, windy and foggy experience on Mount Crawford and the hardest part on trail that far (before I reached the South Island with all its mountains, that is). Emails like this help me to understand, but still – it’ll take time to let everything sink in.
“I was really inspired by you and was seriously contemplating doing the Te Araroa walk myself, so I got my Mum to drop me off at the Shannon end of the Mangahao-Makahika Track, with the intention of taking 6-7 days to walk to Otaki – a very easy goal to attain. Well it was anything but! I only made it to Waiopehu Hut (not even sure if you stayed there?) Anyway, I had the hut to myself with great views. But omg, it was so hard – up & up & up & up & UP. When you go down you don’t wanna go down because you know you’ve still more up. Course I thought of you quite a bit and I have to say, I think you’re ABSOLUTELY AMAZING for what you’ve achieved. Physically and mentally. My pack was only 10kg inc. tent – how you did it with a 25kg one, I do not know. The main reason I didn’t make it tho’ was because my boots fell apart, which I was secretly pleased about. Need to buy a new pair. Someone told me later that the Tararua range (where we met), is the hardest part of the Te Araroa, but after reading your site, I don’t agree!”
Will I ever understand what I’ve done?