“Great!” our eloquent Mountain Dad answered, to my enduring mirth.
He maintains that he’s not good with questions under pressure. I maintain they should have asked me.
There are 9 nationally recognised and labelled ‘Great Walks’ throughout NZ. Based on what exact criteria I was unable to determine but the five day Waikaremoana that loops the lake of the same name, sure ticks the boxes if you seek:
- isolated wilderness that is relatively accessible.
- hiking from hut to hut to save packing a tent.
- a multi-day hike for all levels of walkers (including our wee non-walker).
- reasonably well maintained tracks. The mud bogs in some spots were extraordinary. My Leave-No-Trace Mountain Man insisted we walk right through the middle of them to reduce the widening of the trail and thus damage to the surrounding bush. At rest stops he’d examine the mud on my gaiters and mercy on me if there was less on mine than his. Sometimes I’d rub the soles of my shoes up my gaiters when he wasn’t looking so I would pass the next inspection.
We took five days to hike what others do in three, mostly as we weren’t sure how Little Laide would tolerate the pack for that length of time. As it was she had us reflecting that she was happily ensconced in the pack upon my back where babies would traditionally be carted for the majority of their infancy. She was extremely content to ride with me for hours on end, sometimes napping, sometimes nattering away in the gibberish she does so well. Grizzliness would turn to delight when Mountain Dad would find her feathers, smooth sticks or ferns to play with. We had an umbrella to cover her when it occasionally drizzled and we wrapped her in her own ice-breaker gear (she has more than the two of us combined) and then stuffed her into my down jacket to keep her warm. In this way we completed the hike in safety and comfort. I wonder though, if it may be one of our last overnight hikes as the wee babe is getting mighty heavy. Mountain Dad had to carry all our other gear as I carried the baby and I’m not sure who had a harder time. His was heavy, mine threw itself from side to side to see what was passing. Especially fun when trying to navigate those mud bogs without getting too wet and muddy (when Shea wasn’t looking).
We met a film crew working on promotional footage for the Great Walks all over NZ and they, quite naturally of course, were smitten with our Little Laide. We happened to see them over the course of three days and made sure they had plenty of opportunities to film our pride and joy. I was also hoping they would recognise my naturalness in front of the camera. I love that stuff: getting the attention of the media, I’m sure I would have made a good celebrity had Mountain Dad not whisked me off to the Arctic. Even there I hope to one day be ‘discovered’ through Yukon promotional paraphernalia, but it seems my better half must the better looking as it’s always him that scores the shoot.
Typically it happened again on our Great Walk hike as, despite the fact that it was I who lugged the bulky baby round the lake, Mountain Dad carried her just once for a quick side trip to a waterfall (he’d left his pack at the trail fork). Of course this is when we were filmed and questioned about our experiences on the hike. The camera’s really focused in on Adelaide as she gazed contentedly from her Dad’s back, while he stumbled his way through their questions.
It was just great.
(photo's to follow)