After a successful swim for all participants and a great dinner, what do swimmers do the next day? We get up of course and go for another swim! At 9am the next morning 6 of us met down at the Lake for a very easy very short stretch out swim. I think Mark was trying to show us up as he had already gone for a run as well. (Note: Mark was competing 2 weeks later in the Lake Taupo Ironman competition…see you thought I was crazy). After this morning swim, we finally noticed the mural on the building on the shore. There was a phrase “Fit enough to swim the distance?” It seemed very appropriate that we took a photo as we could safely say “Yes.”
After our morning swim, we had all decided to gather at the cabin that Chris, Penny and I were staying at to get even more of the stories from swim. It was a wonderful afternoon of lounging and story telling. We also went to the Thermal Hots Spring pools at our campground/resort area. We knew that there was a waterslide. What I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling of being shot out a tube like a bullet from a gun. This wasn’t a very long waterslide, but it was fast. Also at the end of the slide was some very sharp hairpin turns. Usually in the turns you slide up the side and then settle back down into the center. This was not the case with this slide, you were shot up the side, but the next turn came so fast and so sharp that you were launched into the other side of the slide. It was like being a pinball with 10 gallons of water rushing around you. I think I ended up more sore from the waterslide than from the swim all together. Don’t worry there are some pictures.
We ended the evening enjoying the sunset and a nice barbie out by the grill. I was really disappointed to see the evening come to an end as this was the last time we would all be together for a little while. I say a little while as we naturally discussed when the next swim was going to be. We don’t know where, but we are all excited by the prospect of another fun trip and adventure. Tonight we had to say goodbye to Steve J and Stephen S. The group was starting to head back to their respective homes. I had a hunch that the lows after this swim were going to be bigger than other swims due to being with so many amazing swimmers and all of us getting along so well. (Note: Leading up to and after a big event, I’m on a huge natural high, but eventually you have to come down. Having a new goal to go after typically helps these lows from being too bad.)
So yes the day after the swim, we do tend to relax, but 2 days after the swim is a completely different story. Chris had read about the best hike in New Zealand and he wanted to go. Since I didn’t know when I would get the chance to do this again, I signed up to go as well. Now I knew that the hike was the 19k Tongariro Crossing. However, everything I read about difficulty was mixed. There were some that said it was challenging and some that said moderate. I thought for sure that it was going to lean towards the challenging. The fact that we had to get up at 5:30am to meet the bus and the hike was going to start at 6:30ish should have been my first clue that I was in for a big challenge. Now I actually like to hike, but I’m not a skilled or fast hiker. That and I’m complete crap going up hills at altitude. Hmmm…the start of this hike is to head straight up a mountain under the a clear blue sky and a blistering hot day. (We found out later this was the hottest day on the mountain yet that season). The views and the hike was amazing. Chris, Penny, Lucy, Mark and Dougal were very patient with me as I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain at a snails pace. They also made sure that I was continually lathered in sunscreen as there was absolutely no cloud cover. I quickly found that Lucy and Mark must have had some mountain goat genes as they just ran up the mountain…seriously way fast. When we made it up and over the mountain there was a shack to rest. Since I had been struggling to keep up, I decided to set out early as they would catch me in no time. As I was walking down, there was this streak of blue that shot past me with a quick “How’s it goin’ my dear?” I thought that I was starting to halucinate, but after a quick second I realized that it had been Lucy that just breezed past me. Dougal followed shortly thereafter. It was a crazy hard and beautiful hike. I was certain that I was going to die out there on the trail. When I passed the 18k marker, I kept thinking to myself…this is almost over it only has got to be like 20 minutes more. I started to watch the clock and there was no break in the trees. 20 minutes came and went and I was still walking in the silence of the wilderness. Just as I was sure that this was the neverending hike and that I would have to crawl my way out of the place, I heard the voices of people at the end and of course there was Lucy cheering me on “Almost there. Keep going.” It was sweet and she looked like she had just walked down to the store. I on the other hand looked like I had been through hell and back.
That evening the hikers all got together for dinner and much needed libations. Yes there are photos…see below.
On Friday, Chris, Penny, Mark and I decided to drive down to Napier to see this art deco town. Brief incomplete history: Napier had some natural disaster that destroyed most of the town. The towns people then decided to rebuild the town in the art deco style. It was very art deco, cute and quaint. Penny and I also introduced ourselves to Pania of the Reef. It is the bronze statue of Napier. The story goes that the sirens of the sea lured out the girl out into the sea. As she was swimming out to sea, she turned into the reef that is now out in the bay. Side story is that the statue was stolen at one point. It was found in the backyard of a local.
On the way home from Napier we visited one of the Hawkes Bay vineyards. Yum…wine. It definitely helped dull the pain in my legs from the hike the day before. For the record, I looked like I needed a walker to get around the next day. I couldn’t get out of the car, couldn’t stand upright, and walked with a limp for a good 30 minutes before my muscles loosened up enough to move more smoothly. But god forbid if I had to sit or stand up again as the whole loosening up process would have to start all over. The wine made it less noticible.
That evening the remaining swimmers got together for one final dinner. Peter, Michael and Barbara had taken the chair lift to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view. I thought to myself “THERE WAS A CHAIR LIFT????” Ok not really, but I’m totally taking the easy route next time.
I don’t know about the other swimmers, but I was dreading this night to end. It meant that my adventure was over and it was time for me to head back to Oregon. Not that I didn’t want to go home, but this was an amazing trip and I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. Barbara, Peter and Michael were going to spend some more time in New Zealand and planned to do a swim on Sunday, Lucy and Heather were also planning on being at or participating in the swim.
After delaying as long as possible, we all said goodbye and see you at the next adventure.
The Day after the swim photos – Dragon waterslide
The Tongariro Crossing Hike
Napier day trip with Pania of the Reef