A Broad View | Issue 3

A Broad View | Issue 3

Learning to Kepple

My knees still ache, and I waddle to class with swollen feet. Completing my first Great Walk, the Kepler Track, was as beautiful as it was painful. I came to New Zealand with intentions of answering each invitation with a firm “yes” because I didn’t want to miss out on any adventures during my semester abroad. When Friday afternoon rolled around, I couldn’t have identified the track on a map. Though this was my first tramping trip, I felt a strange amount of confidence about the 60-kilometre, 1,400-metre-high trail that lay ahead. I piled into a rental van with new friends and strangers and was on my way.

We started with a flat 15-kilometre stretch that lured me into a false sense of security. Our second day spanned 23 kilometres, to the highest peak and down again, and in that afternoon I learned more about myself than I thought was possible. While I climbed, my legs burned and my back ached, yet I had to push forward and conquer the desire to quit. I learned that I could quiet the pain, that my mind was stronger than my body. In that moment, I understood that while situations may be beyond our control, we have responsibility in choosing our mindset.

With each new blister, cramp and sore muscle, I was one step closer to completing the Kepler. I had only one chance to soak in the gorgeous views and landscapes. Never again would I be so interconnected with that particular mountain, and I refused to allow pain or a bad attitude to taint my experience.

I survived, and would have kissed the asphalt in the parking lot if not for the strange looks from fellow travellers. Before leaving, I laid in the grass and felt a sort of bliss and pride that I had never before experienced. Kepler taught me that our limits exist only because we create them, and I feel a more genuine sense of confidence about my next Great Walk. I will be equipped with a new type of mental strength I did not know I was capable of.

This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2015.
Posted 5:30pm Sunday 8th March 2015 by Ally Willen.