Kiwis love their tramping or what some might call hiking. There is a distinct difference between HIKING and TRAMPING. Hiking is what the Burnett family does. HIKING is manageable and doesn't require us to become pack mules and risk possible death to enjoy the great outdoors. TRAMPING involves walking for days into the wild wilderness with all your food, water source, bedding and camp stove on your back. Some tracks take up to 5 days to complete (walking the whole time). There is basic shelter along the way which you must book in advance and involves sharing with other random trampers. It is advisable to bring a personal locator beacon on certain tramps should you need to be rescued out, in which case a helicopter would have to fly in to get you. This of course is a service you will pay for should you need it. (Check out the 9 great NZ walks here *which i hope to aspire to someday*) Just this month an American mum and daughter made headline news with their brush with death during a tramp. (Read it here).
Yeah, we don't do that.
We just HIKE.
Our longest family hike being 26k which is long for sure but easy by NZ standards as it was very flat and we didn't have to carry gear to survive, unless you count water bottles and a cheese & cracker lunch.
i drag the kids on all sorts of hikes. i love it because it forces the kids to hang out with me in the great outdoors and something about the fresh air causes them to TALK. We ask random questions of each other about our favorite things, our pet peeves, we talk about the future, memories from the past and what is happening in our lives now. Big stuff in small hikes.
A few weeks ago i laid down a challenge... ROYS PEAK in the South Island. It was a hike i personally wanted to do for both the challenge and the views. The guide books rate it as HARD and to plan on 5-6 hours to complete it. It is described as a strenuous up hill climb. 16k (10 miles) and 11258 meters elevation gain (4,127 feet.)
This the entire way.
OK, it wasn't really a "challenge"... i FORCED them to do it, there was no choice. Kid 1 and Kid 2 had totally different opinions on the matter. One was keen (kiwi for "wanted to") and the other had to be drug along. i could have done the trail by myself and i would have been perfectly content to do so. In fact it would have been easier in many ways for me. No coaxing, cajoling, motivating and multiple breaks along the way.
But it was more than just a walk, i wanted to demonstrate a true fact:
Life isn't easy. In fact it is quite hard at times.
We have to choose to look for joy hidden in the hard.
All of us are going to at some point encounter trials and difficult times. i want my kids' hearts to be prepared for the journey ahead. What better way to train their life muscles than by giving them a tough physical challenging in the middle of breathtaking beauty.
It started off easy.
We had fresh legs, happy attitudes and were forced to yield to the sheep bounding across our path.
Spirit where high
But somewhere shortly after the first hour things changed. The Keen Kid decided she wasn't so keen after all and the one i was dragging was now leading the way.
We spent 4 solid hours slugging uphill learning how to encourage each other and how to persevere when it's hard and you want to give up.
We practiced being patient and kind to those slower than us and to be encouraged rather than resentful to those who are doing better.
The views were stunning at every switchback and made it easy to find joy and beauty in the hard trek.
We crossed over from paddock to conservation area where the sheep pellets were no longer littering our path.
(i can't help it, i must diverge. Can you believe this is somebody's farm land?!! Often tracks wander through someone's personal property.)
Up we went.
Learning to lead with humility & encouragement; pressing on when you want to give up.
The day reminded me of the wise words i was gifted with in college but didn't fully understand until later in life.
"The Joy is IN the journey."
It is easy to think a final destination is our ultimate goal. It may be a career, a relationship, a sickness, or a specific aspiration that leads us up a challenging path. It is easy to lose sight of the journey itself because we are so focused on the end result. More often than not though, it is in those hard traveled paths where some of the richest gems and joys of life can be discovered. The more difficult the course the more there is to unearth along the way.
"Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let your endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect an complete lacking in nothing."
All three of us were on the exact same path that day but we all learned different things about ourselves and each other.
To keep motivated we would track the shrinking size of our starting point.
After 4 uphill hours of small talk, deep talk, laughing and multiple drinks & snack breaks we MADE IT.
There was nothing left to do really but sit down and take in the majestic views
We traversed our way down the narrow path to the very tip for the obligatory "We Made It" photo.
It was the first time i have actually been nervous of heights. The path was so narrow and all who had earned their right of passage were criss-crossing paths to get to the photo spot. For a minute i was afraid not all 3 of us would make it back to the bottom in one piece.
Once we finished our victory pics i asked my kids how mad they were with me that i made them do this
Faces at the top revealed their sense of accomplishment
As we retraced the ribbon of track back down we talked about how we each handled the challenge itself and how we can help others along the way in the hard bits of life.
Both Kid 1 and Kid 2 said they were glad they did it even though it was the hardest thing they have done so far. They would even be willing to do it again.
Joy in the hard bit
i am REALLY hoping this tracker is off! The trail was 1km shorter than expected and we only burned 421 calories?!
We timed our walk down at 1 hour and 45 minutes. That was downhill at a good pace, no stops. We felt very accomplished for coming in under the 6 hour mark. That night we met up for dinner with some locals and of course they wanted to know how we spent our day. i must admit there was a bit of pride in my voice as i told them the kids did the track in under 6 hours. Turns out their boys do it in 3. THREE hours! They admitted there may or may not have been cardboard boxes used as sleds on the way down. (i think they added that as an attempt to assuage my wounded pride.)
A couple of days later we took a nice comfy gondola to the top of Queenstown.
Amazing views again although not as high an elevation. This time instead of luke warm water guzzled from a water bottle and eating smushed sandwiches out of heavy backpacks, we had an all you eat buffet with multiple servings of dessert.
We got to luge down the hill and chair lift back up.
Not ONCE was there any need for coaxing, cajoling, motivating, nor multiple breaks or breakdowns along the way.
Yet all three of us decided that although the Queenstown adventure was a fabulous time, it wasn't as nearly as satisfying and rewarding as our 6 hour hike.