Before the deed comes the thought. Before the achievement comes the dream. Every mountain we climb, we first climb in our mind.
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Day 81, Top Wairoa Hut to Red Hills Hut, 29 km
I awake with a jolt from nightmares. I’d gone home trying to explain what I’m doing and then had one…ReadRead more.
Day 80, Rintoul Hut to Top Wairoa Hut, 22 km
I grab two bars, pack Olive Oyl and head up Purple Top before sunrise. A family of goats meets me…ReadRead more.
Day 79, Slaty Hut to Rintoul Hut, 13 km
The hut rattles and shakes in the wind, but when I step outside for the loo, it’s not cold. I…ReadRead more.
Day 78, Hacket Track trailhead to Slay Hut, 18 km
Maggie brings me outside when I wake up to show me my good luck charm – a rainbow. Cary joins…ReadRead more.
Day 77, sidetrip, Abel Tasman National Park
Today is my second side trip, to beautiful Abel Tasman park. Steve makes a plan and we head out with…ReadRead more.
Day 76, zero day, Nelson
“It’s hard to be more perfect than right now,” says Steve as we sit on his beautiful deck overlooking a…ReadRead more.
Day 75, Captain Creek Hut to Hacket Track car park, 29 km
I sleep well outside. It’s cooler and the stars come out, diamonds displayed on black velvet. There’s no relief from…ReadRead more.
Day 74, Kaiuma Bay Road to Captain Creek Hut, 32 km
Tui and Sam’s loud morning stretch greet the day, overcast, just how I like it. It’s a different world down…ReadRead more.
Day 73, Onahua Lookout to Kaiuma Bay Road – 44 km
A couple of kids do arrive last night, just as the sun goes down behind a mountain. They bring good…ReadRead more.
Day 72, Camp Madsen to Onahau lookout, 37 km
Q: Why did the weka shriek before the sun came up? A: Because he can. To be fair there were…ReadRead more.
Day 71, Ship Cove to Madsen Camp, 17 km
I needed to get up before 5 am to catch the ferry, but what a treat for Raf to take…ReadRead more.
Day 70, ‘slackpack’ Wellington, 15 km
Things begin a bit lazy on another unusually sunny, warm day in Wellington with waffles and delicious yogurt, golden kiwis…ReadRead more.
Day 69, Wellington
I’m now dreaming constantly of walking, this time pushing through scree, trapped and not getting very far. I’m either a…ReadRead more.
Day 68, Camp Elsdon to Wellington, 29 km
I get up early to catch the cool air. It’s steep stairs up and up through bush finally into open…ReadRead more.
Day 67, Paekakariki to Camp Elsdon, 28 km
I dreamed last night that I was walking, but would wake up and see the stained glass window in my…ReadRead more.
Day 66, zero day
I suppose it’s a bit odd to snag a zero day when I’m just two days from finishing the North…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: weather windowRead more.
Day 64-65, Side trip! Mt. Taranaki
I hate to become repetitive, but this morning began with rain on the alicoop. I think I’m going to need…ReadRead more.
Day 63, Waikanae to Paikakariki, 21 km
The morning opens with rain and wind. Floris and Marjelain leave early, but I am beat. Brent makes me tea…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: thru-canoerRead more.
Day 62, Waitewaewae Hut to Waikanae, 34 km
I wake up early, pack and eat tuna for breakfast to avoid any more of that weird heartbeat issue. The…ReadRead more.
Day 61, Dracophyllum Hut to Waitewaewae Hut, 13 km
Just after 5, and the nervous Germans are up packing. I like getting up early and hearing a few wind…ReadRead more.
Day 60, Makahika Outdoor Pursuits to Dracophyllum Hut, 25 km
When you go up in the Tauraruas, you want a forecast with no wind. The fact that it’s pouring rain…ReadRead more.
Day 59, Kahuterawa to Makahika Outdoor Pursuits, 40 km
Robb starts the trail with me for just a few feet before pealing off. Our drive into where I left…ReadRead more.
Day 58, ‘slackpack’ Palmerston North to Kahuterawa Park, 21 km
It rained last night and is still raining all morning. I have tea and toast with Robb and Tara hands…ReadRead more.
Day 57, Mount Lees Reserve to Palmerston North, 31 km
Well it was bound to happen – I wake up in pouring rain. I pack up anyway and figure, it…ReadRead more.
Day 56, Koitiata to Mount Lees Reserve, 37 km
A full moon looked in on my sleep, then a glorious sunrise. I’m back on black sand as my trail…ReadRead more.
Day 55, Whanganui to Koitiata, 33 km
An absolutely beautiful rest in a beautiful room awakened by the smell of toast, eggs, bacon – a full English…ReadRead more.
Day 54, Hipango Park to Whanganui, (30 km) + 7 km
I wake up to a five-note song, a slight variation on Gershwin’s first prelude. I answer with the second line,…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: best birthday present everRead more.
Day 53, Flying Fox to Hipango Park, (34 km)
The moon comes out accompanied by wild night sounds and a few stray splats of raindrops shaking off the trees.…ReadRead more.
Day 52, Tieke Kainga to Flying Fox, (52 km)
You know it’s a thru-hike – or at this point a thru-paddle – when you wake up in the middle…ReadRead more.
Day 51, John Coull to Tieke Kainga, (32 km)
Our tents are damp in this foggy morning, set on a staircase of carved terraces, Inca-style. Yesterday, Andrew and I…ReadRead more.
Day 50, Whakahoro to John Coull, (38 km)
Waking up was with complaining sheep and the thwap-thwap of techno pop meaning only one thing – sheep sheering. It’s…ReadRead more.
Day 49, Katieke War Memorial to Whakahora – 24 km
The day opens with low hanging mist. I have to put on rain gear to pack the tent, studying the…ReadRead more.
Day 48, National Park to Katieke War Monument – 27 km
I’m having trouble sleeping as my birthday winds down. So many gifts of good weather, astonishing scenery, strong legs and…ReadRead more.
Day 47, Mangatepopo track to National Park – 30 km
I often wondered where I’d end up on December 14th while walking the TA. So happy to wake up in…ReadRead more.
Day 46, Te Porere Redoubt to Mangatepopo track – 27 km
I’m up and packing at 3 am. Friends, there are stars out. Glory Hallelujah. Fingers crossed we make the crossing…ReadRead more.
Day 45, Whakapapa River to Te Porere Redoubt – 35 km
Gray and ominous this morning; foggy, but no rain. Obviously I’d like ideal weather for the crossing – and my…ReadRead more.
Day 44, Taumaruni to Whakapapa River – 25 km
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. – Søren Kierkegaard The day starts…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: into each life…Read more.
Day 43, Ongarue to Taumarunui – 27 km
Up early just as the sun is coming up, my favorite time of day. I’m happy to have found a…ReadRead more.
Day 42, Timber Trail to Ongarue campsite – 26 km
Good decision to sleep in the tent, so cozy and much less dew this morning. Tuis call each other over…ReadRead more.
Day 41, Timber Trail – 33 km
All my gear is neatly laid out as I wait for the sun to peak out over the trees. He’s…ReadRead more.
Day 40, Ngaherenga campsite to Timber Trail – 27 km
I wake up to an absolute cacophony of bird song, the wildest yet. We’re at about 500 meters and it…ReadRead more.
Day 39, Mangaokewa Road to Ngaherenga campsite – 33 km
More rain, but finally the sun is up and the sky is pink. I am starting to doubt my capacity…ReadRead more.
Day 38, Mangaokewa Reserve to Mangaokewa Road – 17 km
What an extraordinary place to wake up to. I have a virgin forest, thick and impenetrable, across the river. Rapids…ReadRead more.
Day 37, Waitomo to Mangaokewa Reserve – 31 km
It rains at night, a constant, loud volley of water bullets on the alicoop. I’m dry and snug as the…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: a ‘walking holiday’Read more.
Day 36, ‘zero day’ Waitomo
I think I felt so good yesterday because it was the first time I started to really feel my rhythm…ReadRead more.
Day 35, Kaimango Road to Waitomo – 29 km
The weather forecast is for more rain – and thunderstorms – but not until later today. The mist is down…ReadRead more.
Day 34, Pahautea hut to Kaimango Road – 18 km
Rain and mist all night, but snuggled warm in a bunk at the hut. Sadly, no view from this spectacular…ReadRead more.
Day 33, Whatawhata to Pahautea hut – 33 km
What a fantastic place to sleep, dead quiet until about 4 when the trucks revved up again, but a safe,…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: gratitudeRead more.
Day 32, Hamilton to Whatawhata – 10 km
The cows have moved this morning and are grazing literally in Irene and Bindie’s backyard. I strip down and take…ReadRead more.
Day 31, Hakamarita to Hamilton – 28 km
I got a note from a follower named Tom who says, “You and your hiking odysseys personify today’s word.” The…ReadRead more.
Day 30, Rangiriri to below Hakamarita summit – 29 km
Rained all night. Maybe it got it out of its system. I slept well behind Cathy’s pie shop even though…ReadRead more.
Day 29, Mercer to Rangariri – 27 km
About to set off. The sun is out but I’m nervous getting back on the trail. Bought way too much…ReadRead more.
Day 28, ‘slackpack’ Mangere Bridge to Totara Park – 36 km
It’s raining. A lot. And expected all day – with lightning on the side. But I have good rain gear…ReadRead more.
Day 27, ‘slackpack’ Auckland – 18 km
I’m up and out before the house stirs in full rain gear. Just drizzle – and not cold – but…ReadRead more.
Day 26, ‘slackpack’* Auckland – 9 km
*slackpacking is section backpacking while sleeping in the same place each night I’m a tourist today, loosely walking the trail…ReadRead more.
Day 25, zero day, Auckland
I am laying in a bed letting the body recover until all hours of the morning, make that the afternoon.…ReadRead more.
Day 24, Stillwater to Auckland, 33 km + 4 km
A lazy morning awaiting the tide to get to its lowest at 12:36 so we can cross the Okura River.…ReadRead more.
Day 23, Wenderholm to Stillwater, 30 km
Cold, damp, sandflies – oh my! It rained through the night and I was warm nestled in the alicoop, but…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: the trail will provideRead more.
Day 22, Puhoi to Wenderholm – 7 km + 1 km
The barkeep Sean has just asked if I met the ghost in room 7, he carries his head in his…ReadRead more.
Day 21, Dome forest to Puhoi – 34 km
I’m up and out early. Exotic birds becoming friends wake me, but I slept fitfully. It would be a big…ReadRead more.
Day 20 – Pakiri beach to Dome Forest – 26 km
A sunrise over the South Pacific. Not a bad way to wake up. Though I faff about in the warmth…ReadRead more.
Day 19, Dragon’s Spell to beach near Pakiri – 39 km
A grand sleep with my kiwi hoot-whistling softly and waves rumbling far below. I dream about a person who hasn’t…ReadRead more.
Day 18, Ruakaka to Dragon’s Spell – 26 km
Note to self: no more setting up on a slope. It was relatively wonderful at Betty’s but I couldn’t find…ReadRead more.
Day 17, Peach Cove to Ruakaka – 17 km + 11 km
I am a total dope. I followed a beach sign down to a rocky shore. But there is another beach…ReadRead more.
Day 16, Taiharuru River to Peach Cove – 25 km
The tree house faces east looking out over the estuary, pink streaks reflected in the receding water that I’ll walk…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: hiking as conversationRead more.
Day 15, Nikau Bay to Taiharuru Estuary – 13 km
It’s been two weeks. I’ve gotten conjunctivitis and a minor sprain. Here’s hoping – hobbling? – the new week is…ReadRead more.
Day 14, Whananaki to Nikau Bay Camp – 28 km + 2 km
Quiet and cool this morning by the estuary. The wind died and the party heated up until the wee hours.…ReadRead more.
Day 13, Helena Bay to Whananaki – 25 km
Walking straight uphill this early morning onto a flower-covered hillside above the ocean. I can hear the waves crashing below.…ReadRead more.
Day 12, Waikare to Helena Bay – 28 km
I get an early start. It’s overcast just as I like it. Someone else is up with a weed wacker.…ReadRead more.
Day 11, Paihia to Waikare – 13 km + 3 km
The day dawned damp and a bit chilly. Our tent city at the Pickled Parrot spreading out on the couches…ReadRead more.
Day 10, Kerikeri to Paihai – 24 km
Another lovely night’s rest and now Vern drives me on the windy rollercoaster of a road back to Stone House…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: the startRead more.
Day 9 – zero day, Kaeo
I’ve been invited to stay the night at one of the most extraordinary homes I’ve ever been to, in the…ReadRead more.
Day 8, Puketi Forest to Kerikeri – 27 km
The morning came full of birdsong. The first few nights – especially going this hard – are tough. My legs…ReadRead more.
Day 7, Apple Dam to Puketi Forest camp – 36 km
Well this <expletive> sucks. It’s been pouring rain for the last few hours. Nothing is nastier than packing in rain.…ReadRead more.
Day 6, Umaumokaroo to Apple Dam – 26 km
Just putting my things up to face a few more hours of mud til a road walk and – you…ReadRead more.
Day 5, Takahue Saddle Road to below Umaumakaroo – 16 km
What a delight to spend the evening at Peter’s overlooking Ahipara Bay. Wine under the olive trees, alicoop drying in…ReadRead more.
Day 4, Utea Park to Ahipara, 32 km
Definitely a better night at Utea Park and I do feel a bit sheepish that I was so maudlin last…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: suddenly D-day
“Make one friend to last the rest of your life.”Read more.
Day 3, Maunganui Bluff to Utea Park – 30 km
The alicoop crashed in the middle of the night. First came torrential rain, then the wind. Then rain and wind.…ReadRead more.
Day 2, Twilight to Maunganui Bluff – 28 km
I woke up early. Really early. To be expected after not feeling any effects of jet lag on yesterday’s mission.…ReadRead more.
Day 1, Cape Reinga to Twilight – 12 km
It’s pitch dark, the waves are crashing and the other six at Twilight are asleep, nestled in their tents. This…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: and away she goes!
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin. – Tony Robbins I’m leaving Saint Paul for Kerikeri, New Zealand…ReadRead more.
video: ready or not…
click for downloadable gear list for the Te Araroa – plus weights!Read more.
audio narrative: no outcomes backpacking
If you arrive at a final destination, it’s a sign that you’ve set your sights too low. – Friedrich Nietzsche…ReadRead more.
walking hand-in-hand with Beethoven
How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no one…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: Does orange make my butt look fat?
It's said that people fear public speaking - and looking ridiculous - more than death.Read more.
Hammock Gear Burrow quilt review
I am afraid of heights. At least according to Ohio-based Hammock Gear, who – despite the name and mission –…ReadRead more.
video: alison’s big adventure
On Saturday, October 27th, I will begin a journey… Thank you Eduardo at TLG Photo and Video for making the…ReadRead more.
Soto Amicus review
Amicus means friend in Latin, and I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Soto Amicus…ReadRead more.
gear list for the Te Araroa
Backpacking: An extended form of hiking in which people carry double the amount of gear they need for half the…ReadRead more.
audio narrative: who is this “blissful hiker” you speak of?
MPR host swept into the inevitability of a five-month hike in New Zealand. I’m a classical music DJ and long-distance…ReadRead more.
ten reasons to add hot yoga to your thru-hike prep
The very heart of yoga practice is ‘abyhasa’ – steady effort in the direction you want to go. – Sally…ReadRead more.
training is life; life, training
Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education. –…ReadRead more.
video: Thru-hike prep with visual aids
Tenting tonight on the old camp ground. – Micki SimmsRead more.
The little light that could
Many years ago, my mom, who was a Forensics coach, took me with her to the All-State Finals to cheer…ReadRead more.
Balega socks review
If you want to hike with the ease, agility and the fleet-footedness of a seasoned ultra trail runner, and keep…ReadRead more.
more deets on aliloop-of-the-lakes, Northern England
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and…ReadRead more.
Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-tec review
The Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec is a foldable bomb-proof aluminum trekking pole with an awesome cork handled grip and outstanding adjustability.…ReadRead more.
Food is not just eating energy. It’s an experience. – Guy Fieri I am always amazed that when I hike…ReadRead more.
Tarptent Notch Li partial solid w/silnylon floor review
The Tarptent Notch Li is a fantastic ultra light shelter for the solo thru-hiker looking for simplicity and durability, while…ReadRead more.
La Sportiva Akyra Trail Runners review
What do you get when you cross the speed, flexibility, the ability to stop on a dime and the wicking…ReadRead more.
Granite Gear Crown2 60 backpack review
The Granite Gear Crown2 60 is a superbly designed ultra light backpack ideal for multi-day backpacking and long distance thru-hiking.…ReadRead more.
Creatures of the C2C
I was never alone hiking in Northern England.Read more.
Te Araroa, New Zealand – Oct-Mar, 2018—19
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you…ReadRead more.
I leave for Northern England and the Coast-to-Coast in six days and until a few moments ago, I was still…ReadRead more.
And the winner is…
alicoop! My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, ‘It is air-conditioned and has exceptional…ReadRead more.
Behold the bar!
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. – Virginia Woolf When I first…ReadRead more.
Which mattress do I take for the 192 miles of England’s Coast-to-Coast in June? There’s only one way to find…ReadRead more.
food, glorious food!
Is it possible to stay healthy and eat heartily on the trail? Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come…ReadRead more.
Boots or trainers?
I need help choosing footwear for the Coast to Coast walk in June. What do you think? Forget not that…ReadRead more.
This is my new tent for the Coast to Coast walk next month. Let the beauty of what we love…ReadRead more.
Coast-to-Coast + aliloop-of-the-lakes, England – June, 2018
I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and…ReadRead more.
Armand Bayou bliss
A convergence of ecosystems amidst a concrete jungle.Read more.
Don’t shun (-tion) the “Ten Essentials”
Before any hike, you should ask the question “could I spend the night here?” – blissful hiker Have you ever…ReadRead more.
wild river afternoon
solo snowshoe surprisesRead more.
just a walk to work
Every day an adventure on Saint Paul’s streetsRead more.
Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch, UT/AZ – November, 2017
If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. – Dale…ReadRead more.
Border Route Trail, MN – October, 2017
The no boundaries waters and trail of secrets… – HikerA and HikerB Last autumn, I went on my first thru-hike…ReadRead more.
Presidential Traverse and White Mountains, NH – August, 2017
Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory. – Ed Viesturs A friend I made on one of my…ReadRead more.
GR5, France – August, 2016
Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. – Paul Tillich In the…ReadRead more.
Fifteen Fourteeners, CO – September, 2015
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. – Beverly Sills …scaled in two weeks, with (mostly) perfect weather,…ReadRead more.
Colorado Trail, USA – August 2014
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as…ReadRead more.
Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa – June, 2013
Fortune favors the audacious. – Erasmus You could call us audacious. But you’d also be right calling us downright foolhardy.…ReadRead more.
John Muir Trail, CA – September, 2012
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir Though I didn’t actually see the…ReadRead more.
K2 basecamp trek, Karakoram, Pakistan – August, 1994
In the throne room of the mountain gods – Galen Rowell Forgive me is this story is very old. But…ReadRead more.