Updated: Dec 21, 2020
I have worked for this Outdoor Adventure Education Program called Outward Bound for most of my 20's. I can definitely say that, for me, it has shaped who I am and who I want to be. A big part of the program revolves around pulling the bigger learnings about yourself, the world, and your peers out of an experience - not just going on an epic backpacking and rock climbing trip. So, for our attempt to hike the Te Araroa, Carolyn and I decided to set goals for ourselves and for us as a team. We hope that setting goals and checking in on them along the way will add another layer to our trip other than just making the distance for that day or finishing the trip. We wrote our goals for the trip in our individual trip journals - you can see mine to the left. Let me share the collective goals that we came up with for ourselves on this adventure. So - here we go!!
1) Have Fun & Stay Flexible.
The goal of having fun often goes without saying sometimes, but I think that it is an important one to address. The ability to recognize that this is both something that we want will help us come back to it during our trip - even in the hard times. We both know there is Type 1 fun and Type II fun - the kind that is fun because it is fun (Type I) and the kind that is fun after the fact (Type II). We know that this trip will have its fair share of both and we hope to recognize and enjoy all the moments - unless we aren't ACTUALLY having ANY fun. That is where being flexible comes in. Yes! We want to finish the trail, but if we get to a point where we aren't having any fun or it isn't what we expected, we want to be okay with taking a step back and weighing our options. Do we need keep hiking? Could we change our plans to have more fun for where we are at currently? Should we change our plans to become more in tune with New Zealand's people and culture? We know flexibility and changing plans is part of the trail itself, but we want to be open to all the things - no matter how crazy.
2) Take Rest Days.
Yes - this is one of our goals. We have a tendency to hike too fast, too far, and too much on these shorter trips that we have done. Because we know this is the longest hike we have ever done we are very aware of how key taking rest days will be. So - we are hoping to take one at least once a week. But, we will see how we feel.
3) Get to know each other better. Know when to take time apart.
Traveling and adventuring with your romantic partner is amazing - AND - of course it can be a challenge at moments. We want to continually recognize and identify areas of each other that we are learning about. It is unique to be traveling with one other person and having that person be the only one that you actually know. We are both really excited to spend time together as we are normally separated by work and such. That being said - we are open to spending time apart - it may mean hiking a day separate at our own paces, taking a morning to ourselves to call friends and family, or just plain not speaking to each other. We are new to this long trail hiking thing, so once again, we are leaving nothing to be assumed and trying to keep lines of communication open.
4) Stay Positive & Challenge Ourselves.
We always say to each other that most of life is managing expectations, meaning that people are often disappointed, sad, or angry when things aren't what they expected. We have no idea what to expect in New Zealand, but I am sure we both have some expectations that we don't even know about yet. I mean, think about it, we set goals - are those considered expectations?
Anyways - we hope that whatever does happen that we can STAY POSITIVE over the course of the trip and always remind ourselves that we love challenging ourselves. We are excited to challenge ourselves in our hiking. We hope to walk some longer distance days and to really push our physical selves to the limit a few times (where we see appropriate of course and after we have ensures we have got into a rhythm of rest days **See above goal!)
5) Create Time for Reflection.
There is this equation we talk about in Adventure Education (or at least that is the first place I heard)
Experience + REFLECTION = Learning.
In the end, yeah we hope to finish, but most of all I think we hope to learn. Learn more about ourselves as individuals. Learn more about each other. Learn more about New Zealand. Learn more about backpacking, hiking, tramping. So, we are going to try and create some small space each day or so to reflect. Whether that be highs and lows each day, a quick journal note, a blog, a check in on our goals (hint hint) or just a discussion with other hikers we have met along the way.
Thanks for reading and we hope to meet all of the goals we set - but you never know what is going to happen. We are excited for the unknown and the ability to learn more.
- Jeff Podmayer