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Hiking When You Don't Really Hike

Location: Copland Track, New Zealand
Pursuiters: Emily Kopp & Robyn Butsko
It was March 2016, and we had been road tripping and camping through the South Island of New Zealand for nearly a month. Robyn and I were eager to see some of the beautiful geothermal hot springs we had heard so much about. So many people had suggested the popular Copland trail hike in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, described as an intermediate 36 kilometer, two day hike, through mountain, streams, and rainforest type terrain. A great idea for two suburban girls; Yes, we thought so too. We packed up our Divide 55 packs with a stove, cans of food, bathing suits, towels, and sandals, and began our first day trek up to the Welcome Flat Hut + hot pools. It was a few hours in before our inexperienced feet started feeling the effects of just that, inexperience. We stopped for a can tuna lunch about half way through, and finally, after being passed by basically everyone who decided to hike that day, we arrived at our final destination, The Welcome Flat Hut, 7.5 hours later. We dropped our packs in the communal room we shared with 8 very large German fellas, changed into our bikinis, and walked down to the hot pools for some relief and reward.

That night, we cooked, and people stared. Confused, we took a look around to quickly discover that these avid hikers had packed efficiently (in contrast to us and our 6 lb portable gas stove). A long, sore, night of sleep later, we woke and began our trek back down to our beloved van. About an hour it, my feet began to bleed. Robyn wrapped the sores up with, you guessed it, tampons. We layered them up with socks, and soon enough, my virgin hike feet continued on the remaining 7 hour trek in a pair of second hand knock off Teva sandals. Many tears, moments of directional confusion, and motivational talks later, we saw the end of the path. Our beautiful Mazda Bongo never looked so beautiful. We had done it. And while our bodies felt wrecked our minds and hearts felt so fulfilled. Our eyes had seen the kind of beauty that one can only experience by foot. We had done it. Moral of the story here: Trust yourself. Also, don’t bring stoves with you on hikes.

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