Friday, November 11, 2016

On this journey ...

12 Nov 2016

In a jiffy, I decided to move to New Zealand. It was a very easy decision for various reasons. They were certainly not positive reasons, but the result was indeed very positive, which I realised at a later point in time. All I knew then was, I wanted to GET OUT. I din’t realise it myself that this was an unconscious effort towards LETTING GO & MOVING ON. 

After coming to New Zealand, no doubt I had lot of time for myself, with myself. But I still consumed myself in the same situations, people, thoughts as they were back in India. I ignored all the warnings, continued the drama and justified them efficiently so that I don't loose my self-respect. 

Photo credits: Google images

I shied away from realising nature's intention behind this leap. Naturally, this ignorance created lot of turmoil in the mind. I shut off from all the beautiful things in life and focussed all the left-over energy on possessing happiness from that one object of attachment. Until I finally heard a stern voice, loud and clear, demanding an answer, an action, -"What is it you are hanging on to? How long will you continue this play, this DRAMA? What is happening? Hmm?". 

The journey had just begun, I knew it will be a bumpy ride. I did not weep yet. Bottling up feelings, good or bad has been my favourite hobby. What unfolded in next few months on this amazing roller coaster ride, gave me the pleasure of realising what it really feels like when your soul is squeezed and juiced for the last drop of spirit left in you. Every twitch had a bundle of learnings to offer. I collected all of it and treasured them for the foreseen rainy days. 

I grew quieter now. I stopped talking to myself. Easy. Keep yourself busy. To only realise, that one day, it would leave me paralysed. Only at this stage I realised that I needed help. And I returned to my home, where my heart is!

I took refuge in the lap of mother nature for several days. Every moment spent with her was an experience beyond comprehension. The memories of which will leave me remain grateful for the rest of my life. I returned healed.

  Photo credits: Google images

Throughout this ride, I was awed by the nature's way of reassuring me, "I love you my dear and I will take care of you". 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 3

25 Jan 2016

We woke up to a splendid sunrise. To get a better view of the sun, I climbed up a mountain in front of the hut and sat there watching the show.

Sunrise at Angelus hut
The last day of the walk was the longest with 20 kms to walk and unlike yesterday, it turned out to be a sunny day. Though we had a long way to the car park and catch the ferry back, we took time to get ready and start the walk. The initial walk was a drastic downhill along the waterfall for more than an hour.

Pic by Nipuni

I struggled with the heavy camera hanging on my front making it difficult to run down. Few sections were really challenging, forcing me to come on all-fours to get down. I was already tired by the time I reached the bottom of the hill. The view from here was splendid. The tall mountains all around and waterfalls running down from them made the walk worth it. 

Walk inside the forest

The rest of the walk was on flat ground inside the forest with beautiful flowers fully blossomed in purple and yellow kept us going. The views of the clean blue sky was gorgeous and I was very tired to stop and click anymore. We stopped at Coldwater hut for a quick lunch break and it my first encounter with Sandflies here. They are real monsters even with a repellent, which gives me a hint of how bad Sandfly Point on Milford track could be. The hut faces the Lake Rotoiti, with ducks swimming close to the banks. It felt so relaxing soaking the feet in the water for a short while before continuing along the river bank for the last stretch of the walk.

View from coldwater hut
The route to Whiskey falls suggested a 45 min walk, which never appeared until 90 mins. We were slogging so slowly. We sat for a break at the falls which was a 10 mins climb up in the forest. I was not able to pull through any extra mile but the sight of the falls could not be missed so we threw our bags by the side and went up. In about 5 mins the tall falls appeared in the scene. The water drops falling on the face felt soothing and it is always mesmerizing watching nature’s grandeur. 

Whiskey Falls
Back on track, we walked towards the carpark as swiftly as possible. Scott, our organizer went ahead to drive the car closer to some save time as we were behind schedule. Our return ferry was at 915 from Picton which was more than an hour drive from Nelson.

View of the surrounding mountains
When the last person hit the road, the rest of us were lying flat on the ground waiting for the car. We threw ourselves inside the van and I only opened my eyes when we reached the ferry station. I had bad cramps already and struggled to get off from the van.

View from Angelus hut
The cafĂ© in the ferry served hot dinner. We were all so hungry that we grabbed plate full of meals and hogged. Joked around the table pulling each other’s legs and found a place to catch a nap for the rest of the journey.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 2

24 Jan 2016

The best part of travelling for me is to wake up in the morning in a new place, in a tent, a hut, a bunker. I sit there looking around me with a feeling that haunts you for a short while, that I might never visit the place again in this life. It teaches me detachment. Just before setting off, I always look back one last time at the place, I feel sad, terribly sad. It’s strange, as it doesn’t happen in every place. But when I do, I know that I am leaving behind a part of me, forever.

Happy me!!

This morning was one such experience. I woke up after a tight sleep, to see some early clouds hanging outside. There was light in the sky, already. I did my morning prayers and went back to sleep. When I opened my eyes again, the hut was busy. People making breakfast, morning tea and soups, few still in bed. We had Granola for breakfast, it was yum, healthy and filling. A perfect tramp food.

Clouds surrounding the mountains

Other groups left before us. We had all day and the next hut was only a 9 km walk. The weather looked cloudy today and seemed perfect day for walk. We started walking around 1030.

View of the lake around the Angelus Hut 

Just after walking for about half an hour, there was an abandoned hut and we reached the ridge. From here, the walk was along the ridge, with gradual incline and at places a drastic climb. The wind was hard along the ridge, making it difficult to walk. Just the way, walking in a tree’s shadow brings a huge relief on a hot day, walking behind the tall rocks to save us from strong winds and at once, there would be complete silence. We stopped for lunch on our way where there was not much wind blowing.

We all walked at our own pace and stuck to ourselves most of the walk. None around for a hundred meters. All you hear is the wind that blew so strong like the sound of a machinery. Somewhere halfway the walk, on one of the mountains, from nowhere, I heard a musical sound, it played continuously. There was an iron pole stuck between the rocks, but how could that make a musical sound, like the flute. I could not comprehend, until I reached its front to see this amazing creativity. It was so joyful to find something so soulful on a barren mountain like this one.

The clouds increased later during the day. It drizzled slightly for a few minutes. The gravels on the slopes, made it difficult to walk fast in few sections, otherwise finding your feet on the huge rocks were much easier. I could just go on walking, for the weather and the climb made it so much easy.

View of the surrounding valley

On the last stretch of the walk, we reached the view point from where the beautiful sight of Angelus hut was visible. Soaked in nature, surrounded by two lakes and mountains all around. It was a downhill from here for the next half an hour to reach the hut.  

View of Angelus Hut from a distance

Angelus hut is bigger and more sophisticated compared to Bushline hut. It could accommodate upto 32 people, and it was fully booked for the day. There were already many groups sitting around table playing cards and sharing stories. We had time to relax before preparing dinner. Some of us took a dip in the lake where swimming was allowed, but the water was so cold that they were out in less than a minute. I relaxed my feet in water and what a relief it was.

Walk along the ridge

What followed was popcorn for evening snack and an elaborate dinner, pasta with smoked salmon. It was one of the most delicious pasta I have ever had. We emptied more than 3 packs of pasta within minutes and settled around the table playing poker with corn in place of money. I was playing cards after many many years. Reminded me of our late night UNO game with travel freaks. One of our team members taught us a new game called Cribbage, I enjoyed it so much that I ordered my own cribbage board.  

Cribbage board - my new tramp companion

The light in the sky with the full moon, the lakes glowing in its light and the mountains still in sight altogether made it a wonderful night. I sneaked away for some time, meditated in the full moon before getting into my sleeping bag. Tomorrow was the last day of the walk and a long one. I slept peacefully hoping for some good weather.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 1

23 Jan 2016

It took me more than a year and half to pack my sack for an multi-day hike in New Zealand. The Christmas holiday to Nelson dint come along, so, when I came across the meetup for a 3 day hike in Nelson, I decided to join. I quickly got the ferry tickets and hut tickets sorted. The long weekend for Wellington Anniversary, gave enough time for a short break.

A cruise ship at wellington harbour

It was a longtime wish to travel by Inter-islander Cook Strait ferry between Wellington and Picton. Fortunately, it was a good day with lot of sunshine and some clear sky. Of the ten, eight of us, from the meetup group, checked in at the Wellington ferry station and boarded the ferry at 930. Due to some technical issues, the ferry started late but the views from the top deck kept us busy.

Picture of the Wellington to Picton journey

Shortly, the ferry siren signaled and we set off towards South Island. In between the two islands is Cook Strait, which is narrow and within a short while, South Island comes into view. Though the wobbling hardly reached the top deck, it made me slightly drowsy. I found myself a comfy place on one of the lower decks and took a quick nap.

Crossing another Inter-islander ferry

After a while, the thoughts of view outside, woke me up and I peeked out of the windows to see the ferry cutting through the islets. The tory channel is covered with great views of Islets on both the sides. I found myself back on the top deck, clicking pictures. The wind was so strong at few stretches that, I could not stand even for few seconds.

View of the surrounding islets from the ferry

It was noon by the time we reached Picton. We stopped by a bakery to enjoy a lunch before heading into mountains. The drive from Picton to Nelson (Mt Robert carpark) was about 90 mins. The views after leaving the city was mostly open grasslands and mountains, sheep and cattle grazing on them.
We unloaded from the car, packed shared food items into left over space in our backpacks and started the day’s walk. It was 430 pm already and with the luxury of having long daylights, we had ample time to take it easy for the day. The climb was only 5 km long, sort of steepish and with the load on your back and sun glazing brightly in the sky, I struggled.

View of St Arnaud town and Lake Rotoiti

In the very first few minutes of walking, I realized it was a bad bad idea to do this walk without being fit enough. I cursed, but without having choice, kept moving. It seemed like a long long walk for the day. Finally, we arrived at the hut around 620pm. As always, the best sight after a long walk is that of your destination, I made it for the day.

Bushline Hut

Hoping for a better tomorrow, I just threw my backpack and settled for some light stretches. The group, without wasting much time, started preparing the dinner. The meat with beans and tomatoes looked yum while I settled for my vegetarian meal. A cup of hot soup, followed by couscous for night’s dinner gave some energy. We enjoyed sharing stories sitting around for dinner. It was a very diverse group, from NZ, Srilanka, US, Lebanon, Ireland, China and India. It’s always great to hear stories from fellow travelers. A German kid, Christian, travelling in NZ for 6 months joined us for dinner, sharing his experiences with us.

View on Tory Channel from the ferry

With the full moon the next day, the sky was lit brightly along with clouds moving around. The view of the lake looked fabulous. I and Christian, sat watching the sky while the rest of the group enjoyed playing Dumb Charades. We enjoyed a good laugh when one of them had to enact the word “Condom”. Well, it was dirty but funny.

View on Tory Channel from the ferry

Cheers for the day 1, we got into our sleeping bags. I chose to sleep on the table to avoid snoring effect on the bunk beds. Also, to catch a good glimpse of sunrise next morning. But the clouds suggested not to expect a great view of the sun rising but I was still hopeful and slept peacefully for the night.

Happy Me...