Saturday, July 11, 2009

Abel Tasman National Park - Day 3

I look like a big black burnt marshmallow in all that gear!

On day 3 I had a 4 hour walk from Anchorage Bay to Marahau, the start of the National Park. I was ready, feeling energetic. Earlier in the morning, it looked like it was going to be another beautiful day, but then we saw the clouds coming in, so I put my rain gear back on. Ready to sweat it out another day.
It did start raining as I headed up the mountains above Anchorage Bay. It was just a drizzle, though, not too bad.

Above Anchorage Bay...gorgeous view! Worth the drizzle.

Below: a vid of the Anchorage Bay valley

The paths were really well designated, so it was a really easy walk through the forests.

Below: one of the lookout points

One of many little waterfalls along the way. I believe New Zealand has one of the highest rates of rainfall/year in the world.

Some of those prehistoric ferns that dot New Zealand's whole landscape

In the distance, you can see snow-capped mountains. A reminder that it's winter, though as you can see, most of the native New Zealand trees are not deciduous.
Below: Silent video of the scenery

After stopping for lunch at Apple Tree Bay (by then the sky had cleared and the day was gorgeous once again), I headed back up the track and was suddenly stricken by incredible pain in my left Achilles tendon. I hadn't fallen or twisted anything, so I didn't understand where the pain was coming from. And to top that off, I had started having pain in my right hip. A sharp pain that started from the hip and radiated downward toward the knee. From the knee, the pain started from the back of the knee and continued down to the ankle. The last hour and 45 minutes of my walk out of the park was in immense pain. I never stopped, walking at a snail's pace, but doing so knowing that if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to continue. But even hobbling my way back, the walk took 4 hours, so it would have been much quicker in regular health. The third day was the easiest walk, with the fewest hills to climb. It was a beautiful walk.

View from Marahau back on the Abel Tasman National Park. I was finally done!

I highly recommend doing the walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. It is gorgeous and fresh. I don't recommend walking through it in the summer because thousands of people walk through it during that time. If you want to connect with nature, do this walk in the winter, where crossing people along the way is a rare occurence. You feel that much more connected with your surroundings.
So, I was supposed to spend the night in Motueka and head out to the beginning of the Heaphy track the next day. As soon as I got to Motueka, I called a massage place and asked for a massage. I wanted to be healthy for the Heaphy track (especially since I had already paid for the huts). The woman was about to close the shop for the night. I begged her to keep it open for me. I asked her to wait 30 minutes so that I could take a shower before going to see her (I hadn't showered in 3 days, no means to do that in the park). She kindly waited for me to shower and hobble over to her "office". It was supposed to be just an hour, but with all the pain I was feeling, we went over about 15 minutes and I only had to pay 5 more dollars. It was a very reasonable 60 dollars for all that work. During the massage I asked the woman if she knew someone who had a bathtub. I truly believed that with the combination of massage and bath, I would be well enough to do the Heaphy track the next day (the Heaphy track is a much more challenging track than the Abel Tasman). She had a friend who did have a tub and called her, asking her if I could have a bath in her house. So, I was accepted and the woman drove me over to her friend's house. I paid 5 dollars for the water and sunk into the bath full of bath salts. I soaked for about 30 minutes, massaging my thigh and tendons, hoping for the best.
As I got out of the bath and returned to the living room, Jan, the host, offered to feed me. She had made too much food and asked me to join her for dinner. I accepted, feeling really lucky to have had not only a massage and a wonderful bath, but also spaghetti for dinner! Afterwards, we watched a little TV and Terry, her husband, drove me back to the backpackers. This is New Zealand, guys, generosity that extends beyond the norm. There are so many beautiful people in this world!
The next day, I went out to get some last minute things for the trip and I realized that I could barely walk. All my best intentions would not allow me to do the Heaphy track in that much pain. So I canceled the transportation and decided to postpone my trip to the Heaphy track until next month. I have faith that I'll be healthy enough to do it then. So I stayed one more night in Motueka and then took the bus to Westport, on the west coast of the South Island. I've been here every since, trying to take it easy and recuperate. I'm feeling a bit better, but still in pain. I will stay here until Monday and then head further south and see what new experiences are in store for me.
Keep reading, I have some firsts in Westport too!


Maree said...

The Abel Tasman is a beautiful place. Thank you for telling the world what a special place we are. Hope your pains get better soon. You need to be fit and well before you start the Heaphy, especially at this time of year and traveling alone.

Maree Abel Tasman Tours & Guided Walks

Tim james said...

Hey Leita, sorry to hear about the aches n pains. Love the footage of the track - and your blog is very cool! Seeing your haircut was priceless! Try to keep your legs warm and stretch them as often as you can without looking ridiculous. Francis Bacon said "the mind is kept keen on the grindstone of adversity"...... anyway enjoy! you are nearing a part of the world that is part of me. I look forward to your adventures!
see you, Tim

L said...

Hello Maree! Thank you for your comments. It wasn't a hard thing to promote the Abel Tasman track. Its beauty speaks for itself. I don't know how you found me, but I'm glad you did. Thanks!

Hey Tim! I am doing better. The hip is pretty much healed, though the achilles is still taking it's time! I'm heading to Fox Glacier tomorrow, so yes, slowly heading towards your part of the country. Won't be there for another two weeks, though, I suspect! Keep reading! I still have lots to say! Loving it down in the South! Take care and my hellos to the crew!