Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Real Backpacker

Before I moved over here and told people that I was going to spend a year or so "backpacking around Australia and New Zealand," I think some people got the wrong impression. A "backpacker" here more refers to a young person travelling the country, as opposeed to a hardcore backwoods camper. Technically, I guess you could say that I have been backpacking, but only in the sense that I carry my stuff in a large camping backpack. The fact that I carry a swiss army knife is pretty much the most camper-ish thing about me.

But I was determined to do one of New Zealand's Great Walks, so I set off with Tal, and Israeli girl I met, to hike Abel Tasman National Park. We took a water taxi up tot he start of the trail, and set out for three days, complete with all our clothes and provisions on our backs.

It did not take too long to realise why I have chosen to adopt the tourist definition of backpacker rather than the woodsman one: I am completely out of shape. When I did the four hour hike in Abel Tasman with my parents, I thought "Hmmm, this isn't so bad. It's beautiful, the track is nice and flat--I could go for days." But that was, of course, without the company of a 20kg backpack, not to mention that the REST of the trail includes some not-so-friendly hills. Why do I not remember this from previous camping experiences?

At least I can say I have tried it, and now I know I didn't like it. Back to the comfy hostels with their fully made beds. I'd definitely say that sharing a dorm room with five strangers constitutes roughing it in it's own way.

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