Te Araroa Start

Te Araroa Start

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Seed

An idea begins the journey that could be the adventure of a lifetime... The idea? To hike the entirety of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail, 3000 km through volcanic country, the Southern Alps, coastlines, forest/jungle area, etc. I have made the decision to do it when I get out of the military. But how did I reach this crazy decision?

After deployment, I set out to find out who I really was. What kind of music did I like? What were my interests? My hobbies? What kind of person did I want to be? So with that, I began testing things out, to finally find the real me.

I found, in my experimentation of self, that I love hiking. If I didn't have to drive an hour to get to a state park with trails to keep me occupied all day, I'd go all the time. I love the feeling of the wilderness, the birds chirping and water flowing, instead of the sound of tires on the road and people in and out of their rooms. I like the stillness, the way you can breathe hard after a tough climb and have that be the only sound in your ears. I enjoy the time to think. That's the crazy one, because I know I'm with myself all day and thinking all day, but the moment I try to recall what I was thinking... nothing. There's something beautiful about that too. Taking pleasure in God's creation and getting away from the cell phone, the work calls, the Internet. All that in a hike is enough to make me happy - in a way I've never been happy before.

So I began to learn more about hiking. Luckily, I was moved in my job in the Army and found some like-minded people who loved the outdoors. They were a sounding board for me to ask my questions. They were the experienced ones who provided me with information about what to buy, where to shop, the culture that goes with hiking and camping. God truly blessed me with the resources to go with the new-found passion.

My former NCO, is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail on her own. She got out of the Army and about a month later, she was on her way. She inspired me. I have done the research, looked at blogs, books, websites, etc. to find out more about it. I wanted to take a hike like that myself when I got out. But my dates were all wrong... I would be getting out in October. That's the wrong season for thru-hiking in the U.S. So as much as I wanted to, I was going to have to stick with my original plan of moving overseas. That's all the adventure I would get. Or maybe live in the U.S. in an outdoorsy kind of state, like Colorado. I was waiting for God to lead me one way or the other.

Nothing was happening. I didn't feel particularly pulled in either direction. Colorado or Australia - both perfectly viable options. I'd had this problem once before, my senior year of college. I was waiting on some sign from God and it never seemed to arrive. Back then, someone helped me realize I had to move for the Lord to guide me. I'd get a feeling, things would work out or they wouldn't. That would be his guiding hand pushing. I'd forgotten that lesson until this past week.

So I finally decided to MOVE. I chose to do something. I began to look at getting a work visa, for Australia or New Zealand. I was going to get the ball rolling. I realized it was going to be harder than I thought. And it might not happen. God was putting up a wall. I could feel that despite my desire for adventure and change, this route I'd talked about wasn't what he had in mind. Then somehow, I came across the website for the Te Araroa Trail. It happened just a few hours ago, and I have already forgotten how I got to the initial site. And instantly my passion was ignited... It's Spring in New Zealand right now! I could get out in October, do my thru-hike and not worry about the season! I could do that for 4-6 months, then come back to the States with my wanderlust satiated for a time. Then I could find another job. And maybe with a thru-hike under my belt, I could find a job related to this new-found love for hiking and camping.

It feels right. The moment I saw the Te Araroa Trail, I was motivated and driven again. That's how the Army was for me, 4 years ago. I was suddenly struck with the idea, I researched it, and it felt right. I later justified it by telling people about the money and education benefits. But I really joined because my gut said that was right. And I know to recognize that feeling now as God pulling me to stop and saying, "Look at that option again. That's what I want for you."

The gut feeling has come again. I WANT it. I've begun researching, reading blogs, ordering trail guides, thinking about equipment, etc. So the seed has been planted by God. Just as seemingly random as the Army was, so comes this trek. I remember, when I was younger, I told people that when I grew up I wanted to walk across the United States. I told people I wanted to be a doctor. So God got me into the Army, where I became a medic. And now he's pulling me to a long trek across the gorgeous country of New Zealand. Some dreams we have as children re-invent themselves later in adulthood, nurtured by the Lord for the right time to grow.

The seed...