Elevator Story

“Do you have your elevator story down yet?”

By elevator story she meant the three minute version of the last five months I spent hiking the Te Araroa. I had landed in the US the day before and, although I was already making the rounds to see family and old friends, nothing was all that cohesive in my mind, let alone a charming, pithy synopsis of this experience that contained so much. Shooting from the hip, I talked about the differences between the two islands, how much we walked each day; I might have told an anecdote or two, but I can’t imagine that I built a picture in their minds that did the trail any justice. The next night my mom invited a few family friends over for drinks and story time – a casual welcome home. They were attentive listeners, asked a lot of questions about my experience – the highlights, the hardships, the mosts, bests, leasts and worsts. It was a fun evening but I felt my responses were disjointed, rambling, interrupting and running all over each other.┬áIt is the duty of the adventurer to sail off to the far-flung realms of the dragons and return home with jewels and gold, or at least stories. I have returned home empty-handed and tongue-tied. Continue reading

Tea Tag Makeover

“In the beginning is you, in the middle is you and in the end is you.”

I normally find the sage advice on these teabags inane and infuriating, but this one now lives in my wallet. I made this particular cup (or rattling metal pot, as the case was) of tea in a hut in the Nelson Lakes region. The rain had been pouring down for a day already, and with swollen rivers and gale-force winds battering the pass we needed to cross, we were stuck. I was antsy and cranky from the forced zero day; it is much easier on a hike like this to preoccupy yourself with the “how” of travel. It’s on days like this, stalled 2,000 kilometers in with 1,000 left to hike, that the much more complicated “why” creeps in. This little pearl of wisdom was the absolute last thing I wanted to hear and the absolute first thing I needed to. Continue reading