20 Jan

An epic hike – How to get dropped right out of the parking lot

Last weekend I joined a few Kiwis for a tramping trip in the Fjordland – at least that was the plan.

Reality was far away from it.

A month ago, I was invited for a 50km+ hiking trip by Andrew – my current roommate. Sounded epic, adventurous and tough. Oh I was totally game!

Well, the closer the time came to prepare for this hiking trip, the more I thought about its meaning. 50k on my feet, walking, not turning pedals, but walking.
When exactly did I do that the last time? No memory!

With the approach of action time, I learned the small but significant details: We would start the track at around 10pm and run to a hut up the mountains, “but don’t worry, Monika, we are walking the uphills and run the flats and downhills”. The run would take 2-3 hours if we are fast. Then sleep until sunrise (6am) and run/hike to the end of the trail and hike back.

After some intense discussion with my ligaments, joints and muscles waist down, I decided not to be a sissy and go for it. Getting ready for the hike meant packing for all weather conditions New Zealand has to offer aka snow,hail,sun,rain,showers,and everything between.
I think by the time I tested my backpack I had four times as much clothes with me on this 24h adventure than for my eight day bike ride the week prior.

11pm in the parking lot we were finally ready for the adventure. While I was packed in three layers, everyone was half-naked. I naively ignored this more than obvious warning.

When I was still adjusting the straps on my backpack my fellow hikers started running towards the trail. I lurched my heavy legs into forward shuffling mode when I realized that was not enough to catch up.

The flat terrain was not exactly flat as it rose to 3-4% and my quads gave me the distinct and clear “above lactate threshold alert”. The Kiwis kept going. I, confused, what this all meant for the next 49.5k. After a few kilometers they notived my absence, stopped and waited for me. Me, huffing and puffing approaching them, “no need to wait for me!”.”No worries, we are just getting rid of clothes.” (Uhm, which clothes?)

Well, we planned that game for another three times when they stopped waiting for me “No worries, we are stretching” “No worries, we need to eat something”. But eventually they ran out of excuses to stop for me and I ran totally out of gas – lactate has fully invaded my lower extremities. Battle was lost!

And I got really tired – that feeling when you do a really high intensity workout and all of a sudden you could just lay down and fall asleep – that kind of tired! Fortunately enough, after an eternity and a half (around midnight) we stopped at a hut, and Andrew said I could sleep on the cushion surface in the main room of that hut. A nod later I was knocked out on a narrow padded bench in a kitchen of an isolated hut in the middle of a forested mountain while they ran for another two hours up the mountain.

And that was the end of my planned hike with the Kiwis. In the morning I carried on alone and decided after another eight hours of hiking up and down mountain that a proper nap in the car would be justified while waiting for the crazy Kiwis to return.

Lesson learned: Don’t underestimate the fitness of a Kiwi with their incredible natural playground in their backyard!

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