I thought long and hard about quitting the TA, perhaps even obsessed over the decision for a couple of days, over my motivation or lack thereof. And while my pride has taken a little knock because I am competitive, I can handle a healthy dose of ego-knocking every now and then. Besides, I didn't really start the TA for the sake of bragging rights (although I probably would have enjoyed them). No, the real reasons were to get in shape, to spend time in nature, to travel with my best friend, to have a fun and grand adventure. And I've done those things. I think if I was still struggling with the physical challenge of hiking every day I would have hesitated more than I did, would have feared I was simply running away from a challenge. But I did some of the hardest hikes on the trail and enjoyed them immensely. Which means that if I was no longer enjoying an easy day on the trail, it was not because of the physical struggle; something else was wrong.
I came to realize that it was the constant movement that was getting under my skin. Always sleeping in a new place, having to hike x number of kilometers to stay on schedule, always walking away from beautiful places and people - it got really difficult for me.
So I've found a compromise with which I am happy. I'm staying at a Backcountry Hut near Wanaka. It's $15 a month rent, I'm constantly in nature, people walking through the area give me a chance to chat every other day or so. I've 'nested', folding my few clothes next to my bed, organizing my kitchen. It's very homey now and I'm feeling quite content. I have time for all sorts of things that I've been wanting to work on, some of them things I've wanted to work on for years. It's such a change, having time on my hands. Time to enjoy housecleaning, for instance. I spent an hour wiping down surfaces, sweeping, washing my clothes in a bucket, and it was lovely. When I don't have to squeeze these things into an already over-busy schedule, it turns out I rather enjoy them, that I find cleaning to be meditative and good for the soul.
I also now have time to meditate, which I haven't done in a while. And boy, am I out of practice! My mind was all over the place. Wondering if I could make cookies on a cookstove, thinking about the story I'm writing, deciding to walk up the creek to find... Wait. Focus on my breathing, right. Let the thousand busy thoughts of my cluttered mind dissipate. Phew, it's hard work! But I'll improve with practice.
I failed to make cookies in my cookstove. Too much butter, not enough (not any) egg. And tortillas aren't really flour, even if you tear them up. Still tasted good though. I mean, sugar, tortilla, butter, and apricots are gonna taste good in basically any form, even unformed.
My cookstove is my own creation, since Bethany and I had been sharing hers on the trail. It is modeled after that of Johannes, a fellow TA hiker, and made from a beer can. The accompanying pot used to be a can of apricots. Of course, I tested it in the hostel before taking off into the relative wilds of NZ hut life. Worked like a charm, much to the panic of the hostel owner. Haha. It does make a rather large flame and, once again, I have become 'that crazy pyro girl'. I tried to explain that it was a perfectly legitimate cookstove design; I found the directions from a trusted source (youtube) but he was hearing none of it. Ah well.
While the cookies failed, I did find a perfect bathing spot, a pool under a waterfall within ten minutes of the hut. And I worked out, went on a little walk, stretched a lot, practiced violin, and read read read. I'm enjoying the relaxed pace of hut life and the solitude of the mountains, occasionally suspended by visiting hikers.