Thursday, November 7, 2013

Battle Scars

Sometimes, being uncoordinated... adventurous... can be quite painful. I've spent my past two weekends kayaking, hiking, swimming and rock climbing. I have loved every second of it, but these fantastic moments have come at the expense of several layers of skin from my hands, feet and legs.

Not that I'm complaining, but I don't think I've ever been so beat up around the edges.

I acquired my first set of bruises and scrapes on my weekend at Coromandel. For the most part, we just hopped from beach to beach and enjoyed the sun. But four hours of kayaking left me with very cold, blistered hands!

The kayaking was exhilarating and definitely different than anything I was used to.
We kayaked from Hahei beach to Cathedral Cove, which was gorgeous. We sipped hot chocolate on the beach and generally enjoyed the sites before setting off for the two islands we paddled around. The weather was great, and the sun was out. But the water was still a balmy 16 degrees (about 60F), so I was definitely chilly by the end of it. 

That night my group decided to go to Hot Water springs, where hot water bubbles up to the surface and you can sit and enjoy the water. We thought it would be a relaxing and easy way to end the day. I don't know what the other girls were expecting, but I certainly didn't know that you had to dig your own hole in the sand to get to the hot water. 

So instead of sitting in a lovely warm pool for an hour or two, we had to fight through a throng of other beach goers and spent nearly half of that time battling the tide, trying to dig a hole deep enough to sit in. The other girls and I took turns with the shovel, scooping out great chunks of sand, only to see the sides of our little pool crumble back in. It was really disheartening, but eventually, we got a decent hole dug. 

And I found that Hot Water Beach should really be called "Boiling Water Beach." The water was incredibly hot. We found a decent spot that combined hot spring water and cool ocean water, so ours was a reasonable temperature. But the poor kids next to us weren't so lucky. Their water was literally boiling to the surface and steaming. 
Beach Hopping #1

Beach Hopping #2
Beaching Hopping #3
The next day was beach hopping at its finest. We saw so many lovely beaches, but the best one came at the behest of the woman working the desk of our camp ground. She told us to "talk the lovely walk to New Chum Beach." So we all popped out of the car, thinking we'd walk a few hundred meters or something to the beach. 

That was not the case. We took a several kilometer walk across large boulders and eventually through the jungle. And in true Kiwi fashion, we were barefoot. The path was pretty smooth, so it didn't bother my feet too much. 
The beach was incredible and definitely worth the trek. 

New Chum Beach!
I made it!
That's when we spotted people sitting atop the extremely large, steep cliff, and decided obviously,  we had to hike up there. The hike was about 20 minutes of scrambling up a mixture of dirt paths and rocks. The view from the top was even better, as we had a complete view of two beautiful beaches and the surrounding jungle (probably it's actually a forest, but jungle sounds so much cooler.)

The intervening week took me rock climbing indoors once or twice, but nothing much by way of injuries, until the following weekend's rock climbing. 

The whole trip was awesome, and I met some cool climber friends who definitely pushed me into much harder climbs than I'd ever tried when I was in the States. We climbed volcanic rock called new ignimibrite, and according to Mountain Project, the rock is soft. Now, I don't know what they were smoking when they said that, but I have a whole host of cuts on my hands and forearms that would gladly protest the "softness" of this rock. 

Each time I started a climb, all I could think was, "Ouch. I hate this.  Ow. I hate this. I hate this. Why. What's wrong with me?" Until I got maybe 20' up and either got use to it or just lost feeling in my hands because I stopped noticing the pain. 
The climbing was so much fun, but a few unexpected crack climbs, stems, and lead falls later, I found myself quite cut up. 

And I can't wait for my next trip. 

The final (well... for the moment) set of battle scars came as a result of a freezing ocean swim. I know. I'm as surprised as you are. 

Another Au Pair friend wanted to go for a 1.5k swim from one bay on the North Shore of Auckland to another. we swam out a safe but reasonable distance from the shore and began swimming until I kicked and slammed my foot into a rock covered in oysters because where we were swimming became quite shallow. It felt like my entire foot was split open. And I did that several more times. 

Eventually I gave up and walked where it was shallow, but I still tripped and fell a few times, slamming my shins into the previously mentioned oyster-covered rocks. 

Despite the brief bouts of pain, the swimming was quite exhilarating. I'd been in the ocean heaps (as the Brits and Kiwis say) and swam around, but I'd never gone for a serious swim. So I view my cuts as a sign of accomplishment, instead of an inability to walk without injuring myself... just go with me on this guys. Don't judge my lack of coordination; it's a life-long struggle. 

My next adventures involve things like surfing lessons and going to the zoo. So there's no saying how I will manage to slightly injure myself next.