It’s the middle of May and I find myself just beneath the flanks of Broken Top where I watch cornices drop and send little powder cascades running downhill. Meanwhile, adjacent to my tiny little recluse from the sun, underneath the hearty branches of white pine (or something similar) and my sprawled out map, I watch small birds splash about in the creek. And what a gem this little creek is, as without it I would have no doubt needed to drop back beneath tree-line, back below this exquisite mountain view and away from the lullaby of this creek. I’m spoiled, I know. But I needed it. In two days time I will be back to work. 5 days a week. 9-5.
Traveling can take a toll on one’s body, especially when your traveling across four time zones. Everything from stress, irregular sleep patterns, improper nutrition, lack of exercise and a general imbalance to one’s mood as its likely to become lethargic after a heavy dose of traveling. It’s part of the experience. For the last week I have flown from NZ, which included flying from the small, intimate airport of Nelson, to the busier airports of Auckland and San Francisco and then after happily retrieving my checked bag, I landed in Portland 24 hours later. Cumulative sleep achieved: maybe 3 hours. Amount of excercise: zero because I will never associate walking across a terminal, even if it does take 20 minutes, as wholesome, quantifiable exercise. And then once I landed, a few close friends of mine picked me up from the airport and despite the fact that I was sleep-deprived and lethargic, I still couldn’t close my eyes until after 1am. That pattern continued, with me waking later than normal, and later than what i was happy with, but it was ultimately what my body needed. I guess. I also account this sleeping-in until 8, 9 and the almost unheard of hour (for me) of 10am with an overall lethargic mood set in place by traveling and well, a bit of depression that always seems to fall into place at the end of traveling. But instead of sitting around and watching movies all day while draining bowls of popcorn and m&m’s (I only sat around two days and there were no bowls of such temptations, thank goodness), I’ve busied myself with friends and now, this hike up into the mountains. Which is exactly what I needed. I needed to regain a sense of my body, to feel my lungs expand with rich alpine air and to feel my skin tingle as the sun warms its surface (and ultimately might leave me looking like a lobster even if I just spent 4 months in NZ… In my defense, I left when it was well into Autumn). I also needed the time to get my metabolism and digestion back into order, as it always goes bazerk with traveling and post-travel celebrations while sitting around drinking and eating and catching up with friends(tho I love such occasions!). And lastly, I needed a few days to myself. I spent a lot of my time in NZ in the company of others, and again once back in America. I have to remind myself that when I begin to get a bit bothered, agitated, anxious, call it what you may, that I need to excuse myself for a few days and go up into the mountains. It doesn’t mean I’m not a friendly person, and it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a “nigel nomate,” as i was nicknamed by a kiwi after wanting to camp by myself one night, it just means i need to regain homeostasis and I have found that solitude works best to achieve this.
I think i may have mentioned it in one of my posts, but cant be certain. As I find rejuvenation up here in the snowbound setting beneath Broken Top, I’ve thought a bit more about NZ. People asked me why I choose NZ, and it my strongest belief that I wasn’t the one who chose. I wouldn’t associate myself as a religious person, although I certainly gained a better appreciation of the belief in god while in NZ, but there’s something beyond my comprehension that set the wheels in motion.
I went to NZ firstly, to thru-hike another trail, to see another piece of this world and to experience another chapter in life. But another big reason was to attempt to bring clarity to unresolved thoughts, to grasp compassion and patience, for both myself and others. Some people who know me think I’m invincible, such a joyfully free spirit capable of so much. Those who know me well, know I suffer under a veil of emotional unease. Patterns of anxiousness, indecisiveness, self-doubt, self-image, all patterns rooted back to my childhood and patterns I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to understand so that i can finally find balance. And I will find it. And NZ has helped me further understand it, albeit in a very indirect fashion.
So where does this lead me? As I laze beside the gurgle of an alpine creek that seeps out beneath a four meter high wall of snow, I think about how relaxed I feel. I’m immersed in one of my favorite places in the world, a place few will venture until the sun has thawed this snowbound country. And yet I hiked here, unfazed by the challenge, unfazed by the thought that skis would have been a better mode of transportation than my trail-runners, and just happy to be here. I brought along a little music for company, and this iPhone to let me write away my thoughts. These are two things i missed so much while in NZ. Two things i would definitely do differently. Two tiny seemingly insignificant things that help me connect, yet disconnect and ultimately, help bring balance.