The sun was still rising when I returned home from yoga last wednesday. As I did, my footsteps hastened as I anxiously awaited the moment to open up the paper’s Outdoors section. I had met with Mark Morical, the Bend Bulletin’s outdoor writer, a week earlier to talk about my travels spanning the course of the Triple Crown as well as my upcoming hike across New Zealand. We talked about gear, logistics and the mental and physical demands of backpacking long distances. With a stack of maps before us, I spoke with “fiery enthusiasm” (one of my favorite quotes of the article) about the preparations I’ve taken for the Te Araroa.
I couldn’t have been more pleased with the article. Mark did an exceptional job portraying who I am and the unwavering passion I have for hiking long distances. He also included quotes from one of my closest friends, an equally impassioned thru-hiker, which really helped round out the story.
As a result of being on the front page of the Outdoors section—and technically the front page of the newspaper as there is an image of me at the top with the title “Hiking’s triple crown, now New Zealand”—, I have received an incredible amount of praise and support. Folks from around Bend have come into my work to congratulate me on my accomplishments and to wish me the best of luck on my upcoming adventure. Sometimes they even buy a Patagonia jacket, but most of the time those who read the article made a special trip to visit me. I feel incredibly honored.
The article has led to some great networking opportunities. For starters, one reader contacted me to pass along the contact information of her family who live in New Zealand. This is not something new as it’s been offered before, but compared to most of the time when their friends live a few hours from the trail, her family lives in some of the trail towns that I’ll be walking through. If it works out, I might have a place to pitch my tent or a lift around town. I won’t pass up an opportunity like that!
Besides connecting with folks overseas, I met one reader who resides in the Pacific Northwest during the summer and lives and travels throughout New Zealand during winter (NZ’s summer). Scott Cook writes the book “Bend, Overall” which describes and illustrates the plethora of activities that one can do while visiting Bend. Coincidentally, he also writes “NZ Frenzy.” These two books (one for both the North and South islands) describe the innumerable adventures one can have while in New Zealand. I must say that Scott’s books came at the perfect time as I was wondering how else to plan and prepare and, most importantly, dream. Because dreaming is key—it’s fuel for the fire. For the most part, I plan to be as spontaneous on this hike as I can be. I have the maps required to keep me on track and I have consolidated trail notes to help me figure out resupply options. I’ve taken the time to research town populations and strategies to reach those towns not on-trail. But otherwise, there’s many unknowns and I’m okay with that, in fact I’m really excited for it. And with two weeks left, Scott’s books will provide me with the last little bit of inspiration I need before departing on a plane at the end of December. Thanks Scott!