If I walk a mile, like I do to and from work each day, I feel like I've had a decent amount of exercise. Yesterday the challenge was to walk almost a vertical mile, up to the 1529-metre summit of Mt Hector, the highest point of the Tararua ranges. Even getting up in time to be at the train station by 7am wasn't an easy task. Our starting point, Otaki Forks, was over an hour's drive away. We'd only been going ten minutes and I was already puffed. I was in no mood for energy-sapping conversation. The six others, with the exception of Tom, were all experienced trampers for whom this kind of exertion was no big deal, so I felt out of my league. I took very few photos: most of the scenery, beautiful as it was, passed me by. The saving grace was the weather which was almost perfect. It turned a near-impossible undertaking into just a very difficult one. After 4¼ hours we reached Kime Hut, 70 metres from the peak. Our leader decided that we wouldn't go any further and that we'd only have a short stop for lunch because he had an organised murder mystery evening scheduled. Bugger you, I was thinking. We were a little quicker going down, and reached the bottom at 5pm, shortly before sunset. I didn't get home till seven; it had been a long day.
It was an exhausting walk, and if I said I enjoyed it I'd be lying. It wasn't just the physical exertion, it was the people too. How dare you talk merrily about corporate restructures or the tramping club photo competition when I'm struggling to put one foot in front of the other? The memorable Akatarawa "bush-bash" I did two years ago, while also being very hard work, was very different in that respect - most of the others were having a tough time too - and the whole experience was that much more satisfying.
It's now 3½ months since I had this place to myself. I still haven't got used to the change. Unless something out of the ordinary happens, I think I'm in for the long haul (I know, I know, it's my place, I can do what I like...) but I don't think it would be fair on Kevin to get rid of him till December, in which case I'm only a third of the way through this stint. I know it's just me, but I'm unable to concentrate on things anymore; it always feels like there's someone looking over my shoulder, and $25 a day isn't really enough to compensate for that.