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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Circling above (Dragonfly Peak)

Recounting these adventures has become rather therapeutic for me, but ask anyone who's been to thereapy, and they'll you it isn't always easy.

Sometimes the words just drop into my fingertips, barley having time to find the right keystrokes.

Other times I rack my brain for weeks before I find them.

I rarely go back on old posts,

Though I've been back and fourth on whether I prefer spacing between words and brackets, each time feeling the need to adjust each individual example 😅


I'd like to write more, but the day to day life of installing benchtops is nothing to phone home about.

Even those with a vested interest don't want to hear about corked cabinetry and flawed fabrication.


Is life supposed to feel so mundane ?


I'm in my twenties (for a few more months at least)

I'm single, with no kids.

I am the last of my kind as far as my once close circle is concerned.

The only thing that I'm really tyed to at this point is the debt I accrued in my early twenties 😶‍🌫️


I've done well for myself all things considered, I could put those repayments behind me if I knuckled down for another year.

That's the smart move, but I've got this feeling it's time to go, like something's waiting and I'll always wonder what it was if I stay.

As much as I'd like to be rid of that debt, I don't want my decisions to be governed by money.

Just a couple of years ago my workmate and I would make jokes about thirty-five bucks an hour and a Hilux being "the dream",

now I'm more a less living it, and it's not all it's cracked up to be.


When it's all said and done all you'll have are your stories,

I think I'm ready to rewrite my genre.


I booked that working holiday to Canada on a whim, in a similar way to which you might drunk text a girl and later think oh fuck, what have I done ?!

None the less it is done,

I didn't want to give myself a chance to overthink it, I committed.

Except unlike that drunk text, my thumb hit the button with good intentions.


I want to come out of my shell, to meet weird, wonderful people, and hopefully discover a little bit about myself along the way.

That last one is something I'm fairly new to.


I can't push pause on the repayments but I can scale back,

If I stay here I might never leave, if I leave I might never look back.

I want to feel growing pains.


That desire is at the base of every adventure I embark on.

I've found myself in some precarious situations, more often than not, when I'm alone.

I don't enjoy being overwhelmed, but overcoming it is worth every sinking feeling.

There's something to be said for pushing through the resistance.

What can I say ?

I'm a sucker for punishment.

Speaking of which...



In the familiar territory of West Wanaka, feeding the mighty Matukituki River is Dragonfly Peak.

This has been on my radar for a while, it's reserved for those in search of a little more punishment than most 😅

You know you're in for it when your day starts with a river crossing.


 

A few kilometres of farm stretch on ,giving way to a narrow walking path, and with hungry sandflies on the prowl there's no point in stopping.



Back there in the sky is the destination,

but let's break it down.

This is phase one, phase two begins at the foot of the mountain.

Phase three, well that's where the marked trail comes to an end.


Throughout the day I was accompanied by little birds I affectionately nicknamed squeak, I now know them to be South Island Robins.

We a had friendly back and fourth, though completely unintelligible, I felt close with those little guys.

If someone had come around the corner I'd have been a little embarrassed 😅

I initially planned on making the summit today, camping on Albert Burn Saddle, then hiking out in the morning.

A weather warning was issued for the next day, with strong winds forecast at height.


Past the walkwire bridges and above the treeline, well into phase two I'd come to accept I may have been a tad optimistic 🤏🏼

I begun to navigate the rolling hills ahead of the saddle later in the afternoon, and estimated another few hours walking before I'd set up camp.


 

Just over those rolling hills is a couple more rolling hills, but over again is my campsite.

By the time I'd reached this point of the hike my legs were really starting to deteriorate.

Cramps toppled me a few times, intervals became more frequent and water scarce.

Tarns provided a source of nourishment though water quality was questionable.


 

Beyond the rolling hills a vague track became visible, I was indeed grateful to find some easy walking and did my best to follow it to what I deemed as the best campsite.


 

Believe it or not that isn't the temporary housing I carried up here 😅

That's the Whare Kea Chalet, an absolute luxury amongst the rugged landscape surrounding the Mt Aspiring National Park.

The website has made it very clear that it is not available for hire by trampers, not that I could afford to if it was 🫣


After peering through at the Whare's fully equipped kitchen, and failing to laser eye the lock to the bathroom off, I made my way back to my tent and watched the sunset.


I woke in the morning surrounded by a flock of Kea, eight of them kept me company as

I packed my things and wandered up to the Whare once again.

Though the bathroom was locked, the water tanks were free for all so I made a coffee and scanned the area for a coming bowel movement.

I was a little concerned when it didn't come 😅

I didn't want to get caught out somewhere in the four hundred or so vertical metres to the summit but I had to get a move on.


Something I've learned in my time hiking is to not judge the mountain from afar, it often looks worse than it is.

The first hundred or so metres were steep but nothing crazy, though the wind was picking up.



On scree slopes the incline eased off, I was fucking around with my Gopro when a voice startled me.

No I'm not circling back to that little voice in my head, instead a keen trail runner had snuck up on me.

I don't think either of us were expecting company but it was a pleasant surprise,

Together we clambered up into the basin then to the summit.



Our feet were firmly planted on the ground up here, the wind was relentless.

So much so that we decided against climbing the highest rock on the summit.

My friend whose name I told myself I'd remember offered to take a picture of me, to which I happily accepted.

He took a few, and seemed conviced he'd got it.

This however was couldn't be further from the truth, and confirmed what my roommate told me recently; your average man does not know how to take a good picture 😂


He didn't stick around long, continuing along the ridgeline to Mt Eostre and eventually the road, something I'd considered but ultimately decided against when I left my pack at the Whare earlier.

Alone, just metres below the true summit I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't get on-top of that rock, I held on for dear life as the wind threatened certain death 😅

I think it was worth the risk 🤷🏽


I always seem to forget about the walk down on the way up, there's no room for those thoughts until I'm at the top.

Inevitably I must make my way back 😮‍💨



Further downhill I was happy to see a trail marker, back on the trail I could zone out a little.

My latest audiobook "Nowhere for very long" by Brianna Madia kept me company as I walked back along the river, taking my my earbuds out along the walk wires just in case.


This book only further romanticises my ideas of living out of a van, if all goes well I'll be travelling across North America myself this time next year.

As long as I dont spend all my money on food between now and then and it's an achievable goal 😅


Back on farmland I saw a familiar truck parked up, a Cook Brothers Construction vehicle.

I've done a fair bit of work for these guys, and if I'm being honest they often have the cunt of a jobs.

A few minutes later that truck pulled up beside me offering a ride and I'd never been so happy to see Cook Brothers logo 😌

That ride saved me an hours walking and multiple river crossings, there's no need to get your feet wet when you're in a Hilux 👌🏿


Savings aside I think I earnt my meal that evening, I couldn't resist a burger combo from Firebird on the way home.

My legs ached for days after but I was stoked to have finally made Dragonfly Peak, that's one less mountain on the list before I leave.


With only five months left in the country I've got a lot to do, including another Mt Cook mission with Billy Easter weekend.

I'll be back writing soon, for now I'll leave you with this picture from Albert Burn Saddle.





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