Guest post : The Milford Track

milford track gabreilThanks to Gabriel Ribeiro for this guest post on his recent Milford Track experience. Gabriel is a personal trainer in Wellington – pop over to Gravity Fitness for more info. Good to have you on the Barefoot and Soul blog team Gabriel.

“Since 2007 when I lived in Queenstown before moving to Wellington, I always wanted to do the Milford track as you hear how amazing it looks by all the travelers that stay there for a night, week or season, but because I could go anytime “it’s like my backyard” I just postponed and postponed, I could go anytime if I want right!?… 6 years later…

This time me and my partner Sarah decided that we would do it, we even had to book 4 months in advance. The training part was easy, walk, run, play capoeira, Gravity fitness classes and a bit of weight training having my Five fingers shoes as second sole. I knew that my partner with a sore knees wouldn’t be able to carry all her gear, so I had to call the donkey inside of me, 20 Kg later we were ready to go for “The world finest walk” but not without calling the attention of so many people doubting if I could do all 4 days using Vibrams instead of tramping boots, for me it was a nobrainer as I had done Muller Hut at Mt Cook before, and my second sole had not disappointed me, quite the opposite, always felt in balance, I would just have to watch out for the snow at the top of McKinnon pass

First day
I was so excited to be able to walk, admire nature and not have to do anything else, no clients, no car, no internet, no mobile, no Game of Thrones, no coffee, yeah right… I took one of the travelling “brew your own coffee” but I wouldn’t drink a instant one, not even if I’m in the middle of Middle Earth. Most of the people that came from the same boat as us from Te Anau looked like were from all over the world, as we could hear from their ascents, everybody super friendly and smelling fresh, as we started on the Milford track we passed by a lodge where the “glampers” would spend their first night, “what kind of people go to the middle of nowhere to stay in luxury accommodation ” I thought, perhaps they are afraid of lousy snorers or not big fans of dehydrated chicken curry, preferring the choice of lamb shanks, eye fillet steak or blue cod for dinner, I would too, but I didn’t want to pay $2000 for my experience and then be judge by my personal trainer “G”. “What kind of fitness freak are you that can’t even carry your own food supply” I have passed on that. By the end of day 1 I was so stoked of the amazing 1h30 min of walk plus my first night to sleep in a hut and the chance to dive into glacial temperature rivers. Our night ranger that looked like one of those beardy walk trees (Ents) from “The Return of the King”with very pointy knees and at least 700 years of knowledge of the forest that he was more then happy to share

Day 2
What amazing bird life, we saw Tomtit, Fantail, Kereru, Rifflemen bird, South island robin… by the end of the day and an infinite of sighs, good and old glacial bath that lasted 10 second max, but all worth it for faster recovery for our next day. This time our ranger was a lady and had just arrived at the hut as I was explaining for my 3 comrades from Israel, why I was using Five fingers instead of boots, so more and more people started asking questions around the fire, like “why do you use this shoes?” because it doesn’t restrict my movements, strengthen my muscle of my feet and calves, giving me better balance “Is it comfortable?”…” I feel so comfortable as if I’m bare feet” , “Does it protects you from the pebbles?” It does protect because you can adjust the way you step being less prone to land heavily like an elephant, As I finished answering the questions, I noticed that the ranger was also wearing the five fingers shoes, so I just blinked at the Israelis and they smiled back, before going to bed we all went to a Kiwi hunt as our ranger had mentioned that 2 couples live close to the hut, after imitating their “skweekis”, after 1 hour out and a few gloworms and 3 possums we headed back for sleeping with no luck in seen the kiwi

Day 3
WWWoooowww how amazing was that! We left the bank room early and got to the top of McKinnon’s pass around 10am, had a cup of tea and looked down on our last hut, so amazing to see the vegetation changing, the glaciers at the top, the cold breeze and the stillness of it all, it made me think how we are so small and that everything is temporary, nothing is really a problem looking at those mountains surrounding the whole place, and I knew it wasn’t over, apparently was all down hill from there as a friend from Belgium reminded us. So now it was the real challenge for the five fingers shoes, walk into rocks with all sorts of different shapes and sizes for over 3 hours, now, that’s an eccentric training workout! By the end of it the quadriceps were shaking looking forward to more glacial baths, and ready to eat those “delicious” dehydrated package meals, yum. Our ranger of the night was friendly and very helpful with the questions about our last day journey, this night I was so looking forward for a nice sleep, really need that deep rest you know a bit of a kick from the gama waves, until someone started snoring very loud, not just loud but very loud, so I tried to ignore and not move much otherwise I could wake up the others, but my mind ‘G” as I call started playing with me and saying ” look this is not fare, he/she is waking you up plus the others and there is plenty of room upstairs where the kitchen and fire place is”, my other side answered “look It’s just this night, try to go back to sleep and try to find your ear plugs, GO TO SLEEP!” so I obey “ok, I’ll try to find the other one that’s not in my ear”, the endless mind battle with “G” wining, so I stood up and went at direction of the snore, pitch black as the space without stars, I had to wait and listen very close because I didn’t want to wake up the wrong person as each bed has a bunker but then I definitely knew that was the bottom bed, so I said very whispery” Mind your snoring”, the person rolled sideways and stopped snoring, just like that but then someone else decided to take the lead, by then I had found my missing ear plug and could go back to sleep sound

Day 4

18km full of waterfalls and mostly flat, it took us 6h and the backpack weighed around 12Kg by then, walk in the park, by the end of the walk at Sandfly point, 2 Australians congratulated everybody that arrived with a sip of whiskey and a hug, it was so good to have shared that experience of four days with so many new friends, definitely a New Zealand must do.”

Gabriel Ribeiro

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