New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

Right away however I must admit to something pretty funny in retrospect but fairly frustrating in the moment. Kay and I decided to take the long birding walk which proved to be a trek around the complete perimeter of the island— about 9 miles which took all of us about 8 hours to finish. Why did it take so long to walk that distance? It certainly wasn’t the terrain that was pretty flat. Though it was overcast and chilly, it wasn’t the weather either. And we couldn’t even blame the very strong winds because they were pretty much confined to the headland areas and we were not always hiking along the coast. No, it was the tall grasses and the tussocks made of shorter, bunchier grasses that were the problem. Since so few people visit these islands during the year that there was no real trail to speak of—we were basically just bushwhacking over most of the island. Only at the end of our hike was there a boardwalk about ½ mile long. The long leaves of the Poa grasses reached out from plant to plant creating “tangle traps” which ensnared boots and pantlegs causing much falling forward onto the knees (at least for some of us). When somehow I would escape the grasses for a few steps, then a tussock would reach out to trip me up and it was usually successful. I don’t think I have fallen so many times on a hike in my life, maybe even on a combination of all the hikes I have ever done! The good thing about the grasses is that they created soft landings for sure because the clumps and tussocks were so springy. The problem lay in righting oneself after each fall. Sometimes I would even “turtle” and have to figure out how to get off my back and return to my feet. That was harder than just arising from a “forward” fall. Kay said my trip (no pun intended) was probably much more tiring than anyone else’s because I had to get up from being down so often!

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