PCT Training on the Te Araroa
In November I put into motion the grand plan for my sabbatical year off work. The dream was the PCT in April, but with an entire year off work I could also do the Te Araroa in New Zealand as training. I am pleased to report that the training is going well.
Some of the highlights of the training on the Te Araroa have been doing the Tongariro Crossing, otherwise known as Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings movies. Before doing the crossing, I chose to have a day off to wait out bad weather and it was a good choice, as the clouds lifted and I was treated to crystal clear skies and lovely temperatures.
A canoe journey is also part of the official Te Araroa. Canoeing the Whanganui River was another highlight. It was a great chance to rest the weary legs and work out the arms in an attempt to reverse the T-Rex syndrome I had started to develop. Canoeing also helps curb the hiker hunger. When you don’t have to carry food on your back, you can bring as much food as you can fit into a barrel without worrying about the weight and that is exactly what we did. It was a hiker feast all week.
Then there were the famed Tararua Ranges. The first real mountain ranges on the Te Araroa and a taste of things to come on the South Island. Exposed ridgelines, unpredictable weather, and high winds often catch out unprepared hikers. But with a backpack stuffed with food, I was prepared to sit out inclement weather if needed and that is exactly what happened. Clouds and high winds came in after our first day in the ranges. So we sat for a day in a hut, and again patience proved a virtue as we were rewarded with clearing skies and decreasing wind to cross the ridgelines and climb to the high point of the North Island.
As I write this, I have just finished hiking the North Island of New Zealand. So with training on the Te Araroa going so well, it is time to make the PCT concrete. I have just received my permit for late April and I am about to make my bank account a lot lighter as I purchase flights. However, until then I am continuing to the South Island to continue my training along the Te Araroa, as I continue to embrace a country and hiking community that I have come to love.
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