It’s amazing how much the scenery has changed over the past couple days.
At one point when I was working with some youth in SF, a rumor started circulated amongst the middle schoolers that I was Steven Adams. For those of you who do not know, Steven is an NBA player for the OKC Thunder, as well as a Kiwi. This is only relevant because the fella who picked me up on my way from Wanaka to the Cascade Saddle trailhead was a high school basketball coach. So I told him my Steven Adams story, to which he replied “I know Steven, and you talk nothing like him.” … yes… I’m also not 7ft tall and a professional basketball player. I barely have hopes of making the JCC rec league, let alone The League. Regardless, the man was a real cool dude! He had initially driven by me as I was looking for a ride, only to come back 5 minutes later riddled with guilt because he hadn’t picked me up on the first pass.
For reference, this is Steven Adams:
I’ve been validated in the past couple weeks, since I wrote the first post, in regards to my statement that I won’t write everything that happens. Not only is it impossible to keep track of it all, I also don’t have the desire to write often enough, nor does anyone likely care enough. Certainly not worth sacrificing new experiences just for the sake of writing about past experiences, in my opinion.
In this weeks New Bud in New Zealand spotlight, I owe a belated appreciation to my first Aussie host, Grayson Berryhill, sister to Carly Berryhill! Grayson, a resident of Sydney, took Carly and I in as weary travelers fresh off a 12 hour trans pacific booze and film fest of a flight. Also, side shoutout to our seat mate and fellow sky dawg, the Melbourne native, Johnny. If you’re reading this, I miss you. While I think Grayson was a bit more excited to see her sister, I truly believe I became the brother she always wished to have. Although Carly might win that competition too.
Thanks to Grayson for the amazing hospitality! Her kindness is only exceeded by her love for the cruise ships that she watches pass into the Sydney Harbour. She’s still waiting to catch a glimpse of the wonderous “Ovation of the Sea.” Which as she puts it, “makes all other cruise ships look like some weak ass row boats.” So cheers to you Grayson, you get an ovation from me.
This week, I will also be directing 90% of your generous venmo donations to Grayson’s Australian Visa Fund. @Joseph-Miller-6. Every $1 supports a dirty 26 year old in need of a shower.
Now for a bit of catch up and photo bragging.
*insert hardy Scottish storytelling accent*
The main event of the past couple weeks was a grueling tramp (backpacking trip) over the spectacular Cascade Saddle in Mt Aspiring National Park. A 4 day knee buckler through some of New Zealand’s most iconic settings. We hiked all day through treacherous conditions of sunshine and light rain, only haulting at night to take refuge under well constructed tents and comfortable huts.
The odds were against us starting Day 1 as we ventured into The Valley with A Name I Cannot Remember. To get from Wanaka to the trailhead I took the path of a true nomad, and sought the comforts of a strangers vehicle while the damsels found passage through a hired gun. We hiked 9 kilometers dodging grass eating beasts and blood sucking insects. That night we made our tents at the infamous Aspiring Hut campground.
Sleep that night was little as we dreamt of the terrors of Day 2. The Day in which men became more of men and women became more of women. Dawn came after we broke camp and we’re on the path to the summit. A grueling 1500m climb over just a couple km. After a few hours we broke through the tree line only to be met with a climb that looked unconquerable. Yet we persisted. Hours turned into more hours as we hiked upward with light hearts and heavy packs. Many sections were spent using tired feet and weary hands to scale precarious rocks with the valley looming thousands of feet below. The only support we found from the track were countless signs reminding us of the fatalities that have occurred here. Yet we persisted.
The summit was finally reached around 2pm. We celebrated our success with a hardy meal of salami, cheese and apples. The Kea bird joined our success by squeaking in delight and trying to steal a bite themselves. The remained of the day was a 4.5 hour trek down past glacial ice and streams to our shelter that night at the Dart Hut. A dancing fire and forewarning of future days rain greeted us that evening. We filled ourselves on mac and cheese and warmed our bellies with some of the finest plastic whiskey Wanaka had to offer.
Day 3 was spent frolicking through hills of green with only a mere climb to Reese’s Saddle that was a stepping stone to the prior day’s peak. Light rain, water soaked grass and rambling river crossings kept us cool and hydrated. That evening we arrived at Shelter Rock Hut, our finally eve of the tramp.
The final day rewarded us with sunshine and knee deep mud as we pushed to the finish line over a long but welcomed 19 km. High fives were given to passing warriors beginning new tramps of their own. We were weary but found energy in our accomplishment. This along with the promise of beer and grilled beast in the shape of a burger.
We spent a couple days in Queenstown after that before venturing to The Milford Sound for some more trekking and sailing. I have since parted with my ladies and I met up with new sweet gal named Toyota Rav 4. We had a romantic trip up the Left Coast learning how to live the “van life.” Maybe I’ll save that material for another post or some talk over a beer when I return.
- The South Island is unreal
- Spend at least 6 weeks here
- Traveling is best done with a car (preferably camper)
The merits of traveling alone are numerous and I fully support the notion that everyone should do it at some point. It’s a liberating feeling to chose every direction on your own and you end up in new situations everyday you wouldn’t otherwise. However, experiences are always best when shared. Whether it’s with a lover, friend, German hitch hikers, German bunkmates or the random German at the beer garden. There are heaps of Germans here! This is said with a grain of salt as I’ve only been gone 3 weeks and I really don’t know shit yet. I suspect a future introspective post with more details on the merits of solo versus with friends may take place.
Alas, as I finish this post, I am a shipwrecked swashbuckler cast ashore in the port town of Wellington. A city remarkably similar to the looks and feels of SF. The bathrooms where I stay have a remarkably similar scent to those of my Freshman dormroom – UCSD ERC Africa Hall Suite 200. A nostalgic feeling I never thought I’d find. Home away from home it seems!
This post was written intermittently from a coffee shop, hostel and ferry to the north island. The ferry staff seems to be trying to Ice the passengers.
Oh and for the record: oatmeal, sandwhich, fish and chips and 1.