How do I sum up the last three weeks at outward bound? It was defiantly not what I expected, that’s for sure! It was more intense that I could have imagined- less sleep and longer days that I have ever had in my life, and no time to myself. It was great to really challenge myself though, both physically and to live/work/breath as a group. Every minute of every day brought new tasks, activities, and challenges. From 6am to well past 11pm most days there wasn’t a second to sit and think, everything was shared.
The course was from March 1-21, and we were picked up and dropped off in Picton, a town the size of Petersburg on in the north end of the South Island, the main port where Interislander ferries run to Wellington, on the North Island. There were heaps of students starting courses at the same time, and we all took a boat to Anakiwa, where the OB NZ’s base is. Anakiwa is a small town at one end of the Queen Charlotte Track, one of the famous great walks of NZ. We were welcomed to the OB school, and sorted into watches of 14 students, with two instructors per watch.
During the course, we spent a night or two in our watchhouse (mine being Hillary), which was a nice cabin/house with bunks, bathrooms, and electricity. Then we went away from school on schemes, which include a two day tramping scheme-map and compass, two days of river kayaking, two days of service, three days on sea scheme sailing on a cutter, three nights on solo, and three days tramping again. When we were at camp, we also spent some time rock climbing and on a high ropes course, among other activities. Every morning at camp we work up at 6am for PT, or physical training, at 6:20am. PT consisted of 20 min of an aerobic type warm-up and sets of push-ups, sit-ups, dips, and squats, and a 3.2 km race for time, followed by running right into the sea and back out into a cold shower.
The sailing scheme was possibly my favorite, since it was something I had never done before. We had some long, late, dark nights, one night sleeping on the boat, and another with cutter watch all night. Here is what I wrote in my journal to give you an idea:
“I never imagined sea scheme would be so much work/so exhausting! The lack of sleep (two nights in a row of 4-5 hrs) was difficult, as well as a shortage of snacks. We hope and prayed for wind, and boy did we get it that first night. Getting into the bay, in the dusk/dark, there were gusts up to 39 knots, and sailing with full sails proved a bit dangerous. The girls were all screaming (me too), as we pitched and rolled on the tacks. Finally, after a disagreement with Rich, who was the current captain, we rowed hard and strong, but went nowhere, if not backwards for around a half hour. After a slight argument, we pulled up the reg flag in defeat and got towed into the bay by the instructors. But the night was young, and many tasks remained b/f bed, such as our five attemps to place the anchor right and get to shore, swimming back after the cutter had been anchored in place, dinner, and an all-night rotation on cutter-watch.” The second day at sea, we sailed (well rowed mostly, the wind was low) to ship cove, where Captain Cook first set food in NZ. More adventures followed... The final day we had wind at our back and sailed effortlessly back into Anakiwa, where solo begun.
Here is an exert from my journal during our three night/two day solo: “When I first woke up, before I opened my eyes, I heard the loud hum of wasps and I wasn't sure what to think! After I realized they were not out to get me I relaxed a bit, and took in my platform and surroundings. I can see the water through the trees :-) so I got a room with a view. I slept pretty good but it took me awhile to fall asleep, and I woke up to a possum and other night sounds a few times. Luckily for me it didn't rain in the night, b/c I decided not to set up my tarp when we were dropped off in the dark last night... I feel completely in my comfort zone here, super content to sit here and relax, write, sleep, and think. I slept a good portion of the day today, and still could sleep more. It is weird not to know the time of day, but it doesn't matter... OB is such as special place, I am so glad I made the decision to do a course here in NZ...”
It was great to really get to know the kiwis- I initially thought the culture here wasn't that different than my own, but living, breathing, and thinking together, I discovered many differences. I frequently found myself asking what a word meant, and added greatly to my NZ vocabulary ( i.e. togs = swimwear, scroggin = trail mix, heaps, wee, …). We had a great group of 13- and now I have 12 people I can visit around the country in the next two months :-).
The last four days were possibly the hardest of all, with a 3 day tramping trip, following the golden rules and making the most of daylight hours. We walked for 12+ hours each day, ready to set out each day with camp packed up before the sun was up, and struggling to see for the last yards along the ridges at night. The tramp was all off-trail navigation with maps and compasses- something I enjoy, and I can proudly say with my help and knowledge we didn't get lost once, we were spot on the entire time with navigation. We got to the pick up-spot the last night at 9pm, and weren't back in Anakiwa until 10:30pm, where we had unpacking and dinner awaiting. Everyone was completely exhausted and in pain, limping and hobbling around with sore feet. But if that wasn't enough, we were told we must wake up at 5am for pre-marathon breakfast duty, followed by the 22km half marathon+ along hilly terrain. I did enjoy the marathon, 10km were on a road, and then 12km were along the Queen Charlotte Track back to finish at Anakiwa. If it wern't for Jase, one of my watchmates, running right in front of me, I would have been tempted to walk or at least jog, but no, we ran the entire way. I just watched the feet in front of me and plotted on, and reached the jetty and finish line at 2 hours 1 min.
After my course finished, I spent 2 relaxing nights in Picton in a hostel, and returned to Christchurch and Nadine's house for two nights. I used my $1 naked bus ticket to Wanaka yesterday. It was a long 7 hours, but a good deal :-) It is raining in Wanaka now, and my leg is sore when I put pressure on it, so I am relaxing, reading, and hanging out for a few days before I decide what to do next... Oh my leg. So the outer side of my shin/calf had a really sensitive sport with sharp pain after the half marathon, so I thought I would go to physio in Chch to check it out. The therapist told me it may be a stress fracture of my fibula, and it might take 6 weeks to heal while I “rest”. I am hoping she was wrong.. that would be a long time and I want to go tramping! But I will just wait and see.
Hope everyone is enjoying springtime in the states, fall has sure arrived here! I will post many more pictures later once we exchange them, there are some great ones I want to share! Luv ya all :-)