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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Return of the Fern (Middle Peak)

Getting back to everyday life has been an adjustment to say the least.

I greeted the New Year with my head in the clouds and had to come down sooner or later...

Admittedly I dragged my feet, starting back at work on a Friday, and even that felt like a long week 😅

I've always felt out of place in my job.

Little things fit in with my tendencies, but I have no business being on a construction site and part of me has always known that.

I think the reason I've taken so long to come to terms with it is because I've felt out of place my whole life,

this feeling isn't unfamiliar.

Every now and then something clicks and for a brief moment I'm right where I need to be.

Exploring this country, and in turn, myself, I've noticed those moments occuring more frequently.

Tapping into that little voice in your head isn't always easy but when you hear it, you better listen intently.

When I talk about voices in heads and tendencies, it sure sounds like a lot like schizophrenia.

Though I do attribute some of my ways to my likely autistic brain, to the best of my knowledge I am not schizophrenic.

Unless I'm high, then I may exhibit symptoms 😅

I have a hard time expressing myself, I know all the words are in there, somewhere,

but it's rare that I'm able to string them together.

A thick layer of bullshit is often prevalent in place of what I don't know how to say.

Things don't click for me professionally,

and if I'm going to commit myself to something, I need that.

I at least need to know what else is out there.


In the spirit of change I've booked a working holiday,

I'm moving to Canada.

I've signed up with Global Work & Travel, they're taking care of a lot of the admin surrounding my visa and employment.

I have no idea what I'll be doing yet, but I'm excited 😁

If everything goes according to plan I'll be departing at the end of August,

as excited as I am,

I'm gonna miss this place.

I said a little while ago that one day my time here could come to an end, and I'd have to go further.

I just didn't think it'd be so soon.

There's a lot I still want to do here,

in the coming months I'll be detailing my adventures, but there will be a shift towards more journal based writing.

I need to stop thinking of this blog as list of mountains, or that's all it's ever going to be.

On that note, let's get to the mountains eh ? 😂

Waitangi day this year falls on a Tuesday, work figured half of us would apply for annual leave Monday anyway, so they gave us all a four day weekend 👌🏼

Strong winds are forecast to blow angry clouds around the region but... four days at home 🙄

I took a chance in Wanaka on Sunday,

the larger clusters I'd been eyeing up were off limits, but the hills surrounding the town centre weren't quite as hostile.

The one that got away is just around the corner...

I'm going back for Middle Peak.

I've attempted this once before but left too late in the day 🤦🏻

That's not the only thing I'm doing differently this time around,

I'm gonna traverse over the ridgeline from Roy's Peak 😏

I've studied the landscape, though ambitious, it is doable.

From Roy's, to Mt Alpha, and eventually Middle Peak.

The carpark was chocka, bloody day walkers 😅

I must've stood out like a sore thumb with crocs strapped to the bottom of my oversized pack.


You see what I mean ?

Over here it's not too bad.

But over there , ooof 😬

From the top of Roy I had a pretty good idea of what I was walking in to,

and just how far that was.

Waaaaaay back there ⏬

I had better get a move on,

Alpha, where are you ?!

It's bigger than it looks I swear 😅

Beyond Alpha is my next checkpoint, as it stands I'm one third of the way into my day.

At this point I'd begun to question the plan.

Not whether I could do it, but whether I should.

It was pretty fucking windy and my distant goal was darkening, a loop around Roy's and Alpha is marked but I'm going off route.

I'm gonna be completely exposed for the rest of the day, these conditions are less than ideal for free-handing unfamiliar territory.

This is when I heard that little voice.

Not there, not today.

As stubborn as I am, I had to admit going any further was a bad idea.

This was a tough pill to swallow, a second failed attempt,

It's Bathans allover again 🙄

I begrudgingly followed the marked path to Cardrona Valley, questioning my questioning, until I was fighting to walk a straight line.

If nothing else, the gale did reassure me a little 🤷🏽


Ambitious is an understatement, that's one hell of a trek.

I stand by my initial assessment, it is doable, whether I'm gonna do it ? That's doubtful 😅

Without question, I will return for Middle Peak.

I'm glad I got out, if for nothing else, it was worth it to see the range from a different angle.

When I come back it'll be up the ridge behind Fern Burn Hut.


Well fuck, I did it 🙌🏼

It's been a week since I last opened this post and I'm proud to say that I finally topped Middle Peak !

I was feeling pretty down last time I was here, thwarted by a mountain that didn't seem all that hard to climb. I cowered back to my empty house and began to wonder how on earth I was going to get through another two days inside 🫣

I had been talking to a girl that week I'd grown quite fond of, we linked up for a coffee date the next day.

I was a little nervous, she was clearly out of my league but conversation was flowing, and it felt very natural.

Before we went our separate ways I worked up the nerve to tell her how much I enjoyed meeting her and asked if she would be interested in getting together again.

She hesitated for a second before responding, then obliged.

I drove home giddy, all the feelings of inadequacy from the day before had evaporated.

This newfound confidence got me thinking...

We've both got Waitangi day tomorrow off work, let's ask her out again 😅

So that's exactly what I did, I knew it was too early to ask but I did it anyway.

I even professed this in the message 🫣

I closed my eyes, threw my finger at the section of my screen labelled "send" and then proceeded to curse myself, and my stupidity for the next hour or so.

I waited idly by for a reply, a few hours or so later it came through.

Although she had enjoyed herself, she could only offer me friendship, my heart sank.

I knew there was something to that moment of hesitation 🙃

I ran through all of the reasons why this was my fault, things I'd said or done to scare her off.

Was it the multiple mentions of my social anxiety ?

Or the few times early on in our meet where my eyes drifted from her beautiful blue eyes to her tits ?

Not a good look I know 🤦🏼

In the end I reconciled with the fact that two people can walk away from the same experience with two very different views, that's just life.

Time will tell if we become friends, or if that line is just a story as old as dating itself, something tells me it's the latter 😅

I lounged around the house that night considering another trip to Middle Peak the following day, but the forecast had deteriorated even further.

As much as I wanted it, there was nothing I could do to change the weather.

It wasn't happening for me, not this weekend at least...

The following weekend I had but one thing on my mind, my potential love life could wait, I had a mountain to climb.

Keeping me company was my latest audiobook "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, entailing her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hike in the United States.

My day had nothing on Cheryl's ninety-four, but her words fueled me as I charged to Fern Burn Hut.

Someone left a packet of Whitakers mini peanut slabs on the table, and I was grateful.

I took two and began my climb to the spur you can see above.

I'm cautious with my use of the word climb because I recognize I am not a climber, there are people that really climb and then there's me.

A guy who quite frankly doesn't do well when exposed to considerable drops 😅

This however was very much a climb,

I was a lot more confident this, my second time around, but still acutely aware of my discomfort.

When I reached walkable ground I took a breather, a drink of water, and figured I should probably apply some sunscreen.

I reached into the pocket of my fanny pack where I keep that, and insect repellant.

Both of which were indeed in that pocket, one more literally than the other 🤦🏻‍♂️

Insect repellant now filled that pocket, which is surprisingly waterproof and contained the liquid from my earbud case amoung other things.

I think I ought to let this air out, I'll collect it on the way back.


Waaaaaay back there on the left is Roy's Peak, next on the right is Mt Alpha.

This picture was taken halfway along the ridge to Middle Peak.

The more I look at this picture the more I realize I was right not to carry on last weekend.

There's no way I would've made it 😅


I'm only thirty metres lower than that there point, but that there point is the one someone named.

So I'll be heading downhill twice that, might as well make it an even hundred 🤷🏻‍♂️


Every talks about Roy's Peak, but big sister over here is definitely understated.

I'll take a ridgeline walk over a gravel track any day 👌🏼

Sometimes at the top of a mountain I get the urge to call someone, that someone is usually my mum.

At it's core I know this urge is me wanting to share a special moment, and though it's always well received, it doesn't come from a good place.

Taking myself away from everyone has been instrumental to my development, I've always done it, increasingly more so in recent years.

There's a fine line between independence and isolation, and I often cross it.

The path I've taken isn't always easy, this mountain is a prime example, I'm all about the road less traveled.

Keeping that in mind, I chose this, so in moments of weakness I've got to embrace the isolation.

It's just me and the Middle, there's nothing wrong with that, this is exactly what I came here for.

Eleven hours, twenty-five kilometres and almost eighteen-hundred verticle metres.

Not a bad day all in all, I almost wish it was a little longer though, another couple of hours and I'd have finished my book 😂

It's now been two weeks since I started this post, two weeks since my heart sank over a girl I'd just met and

I'm proud to announce that it's risen back to where it belongs, as I get ready for another date 🫢

If there's one thing I know about myself, it's that I am a lover boy 😅

I'll bounce back as often as I fall.

I'd like to close with my favourite picture from last weekend, looking back on Lake Wanaka from the ridge.

Until next time 🙋🏽‍♂️

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