Common Sense and Other Realizations

So I was talking to my friend Jen the other day.  You remember her right?  My knitting friend?  The one that thinks I’m going through a mid-life crisis because I want to go to New Zealand for 2 months?  I’m sure I mentioned her a few times.  Or maybe we can call them rants?  Vents?  Is this another one of those types of posts?  Anyway, she was asking me about the trip to New Zealand and I was telling her again for the ‘nth time about my plans to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and to climb “Mt. Doom”.  Now I’m not sure what’s going on with her, but she sure has a poor memory.  And maybe because I have changed in my outlook on life, but she just seems more and more negative each time I see her.  But then since I’ve worked with her in the same office before, I kind of already knew that she was like this and I already knew that her personality kind of grates on me in very bad way.  I think it’s just her personality.  And I think because I haven’t seen her in such a long time that her personality traits seem to have come back very quickly to annoy me even more quickly than before.  But anyways, if anyone asks me about my trip to New Zealand, I will gladly talk to you about it because I am so excited about it.  So I was telling her about my trip, all over again and she was asking about my training regime to prepare for the “Mt. Doom” climb.  So I mentioned some of the future hikes that I would be doing between now and five months from now.  I mentioned that most of my hikes, I do alone.  Mainly because I have no one else to go with.  My sisters are not in the same shape as I am, plus they have family responsibilities.  My friends are on different schedules and again, not all of them are into hiking or they also have family responsibilities.  I do the occasional hike with Korri, my personal trainer but she is headed off to Uganda tomorrow for almost an entire month.  So right away, Jen says I should not be hiking alone.  Well, I get the concern.  I do, really.  But just something about the way she said it, kind of really irritated me.  Right away she was talking about how I could always join up with hiking groups, and started making suggestions about where I can find other people to hike with.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I like hiking alone.  I get that there are dangers out there, that I’m in the “wilderness”, in the back country.  You never know when a bear will jump out to eat you!  But all kidding aside, I am not stupid.  I would not knowingly put myself in danger for a chance to see nature.  Until I decided to go to New Zealand I was not “Nature Girl”.  Just ask my sisters!    But seriously, I know that unexpected things can happen on these trails, but unexpected things can happen in the city as well.  And really Jen, I’m not like you.  I don’t need to be surrounded by people to enjoy myself.  I prefer my privacy.  I don’t like to be badgered about why I want to do things by myself.  There’s nothing wrong with being alone.  I mean, I’m going to New Zealand on my own.  Most likely, the majority of my tramps on both islands will be by myself.

I think that I have come to the sad realization that Jen is really not my friend.  We were just friendly coworkers.  I think I’ll just have to refer to Jen as my former-office mate from now on, because if I’m always venting about her every time I encounter her, then that’s not really a “friendly” thing.  And if I’m always looking forward to the end of our encounters, then I am not really a friend to her either.  Wow, I feel like such a terrible person.  But I guess not everyone can be a friend.

Now on the other hand, Irene, my good friend and “work mom” has also expressed her concern about me travelling to New Zealand on my own, and thanks to Tina, who was “kind” enough to let her know that in New Zealand, they have a very high rate of sexual assault cases that result in murder (I don’t know how true that is), that Irene became even more concerned.  If that’s true, I would be concerned too, but then you’ll be assuming that I’ll be walking late at night in dark alleys.  Would it be better if I told you that I’ll be walking early in the mornings, before the sun is up, on nature trails to get the perfect photo?  KIDDING!  Maybe kidding!  In BC, I would never do that, mainly because I love to sleep in, and also because I really might get attacked by a bear or other wildlife.  But since the only predator on New Zealand is the possum, I think pre-dawn walks to get a photo will be relatively safe, as long as I don’t walk off a cliff.  But really, considering the type of business that we work for, I think I’m pretty vigilant about my surroundings.  I just have to learn to apply my skills when I’m not at work.  And as much as I am enjoying my kickboxing classes, there is an ulterior motive for taking them.  Just a little bit of self-preservation skills training.  These skills will come in handy.  Not that I would ever just stop and spar with my attacker, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to react properly if some guy had his hands around my throat.  Muscle Memory.  I hate those two words.  It’s a work thing.  But it is going to be muscle memory that will get me out of terrible trouble.  That and common sense.  Yes, I am travelling by myself.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t make friends while I’m there.  It doesn’t mean I won’t meet people who are headed to the same places that I am.  I will not be utterly alone.  And not everyone I meet will be dangerous.  I’m not oblivious to the dangers of being a women and travelling alone and I’m not oblivious to the unexpectedness of hiking on trails on our mountains in the Lower Mainland.  It just means doing my research, using my common sense and coming to the realization that I have limits.  If “Mt. Doom” is beyond my limits, then I will not climb it.  No volcano is worth dying for.  That’s why I’ll be bringing my camera.  If I can’t climb it, I’ll shoot it (with my camera).

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very grateful that my friends and family are concerned for my safety.  And I will take every precaution available to me here at home on my hikes and when I get to New Zealand.  But after a certain point, when the precautions start to take over the enjoyment of the actual adventure, then what’s the point in going on an adventure?  Did I mention that Mt. Tongariro erupted twice last year and that the crossing only fully opened on May 8 of this year?  My mom was the first to tell me that Wellington experienced a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on July 21, 2013.  How should I prepare for these unexpected occurrences?  What kinds of precautions should I take?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door,” he used to say.  “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”

– J. R. R. Tolkien

In the Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo used to say this to Frodo upon his return from long walks away from Bag End.  Not all walks will lead to an erupting volcano or an earthquake.  Not all walks will be dangerous.  But would it be so bad to be swept off your feet for just a little bit?

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