14-hour day trip testing exertion

Ever wondered what those vanloads of hostel pupils from Mount Aspiring College are getting up to?

They disappear at seven on Sunday mornings into the Wanaka sunrise and reappear hours later, bedraggled, bruised and buzzing after a full-day mission into the town's surrounding landscape.

The truth is this: we wake up at some ungodly hour, load ourselves up with porridge and prepare for a long and unknown adventure.

Take our recent trip to Corner Peak for example.

We were told to ready ourselves for a long, gruelling day.

Our alarms were set for 5.15am and we were walking before sunrise.

We split into four groups and started at opposite ends of the astronomical mountain that is Corner Peak.

As we followed the valley, getting lost among the bushes, our navigation skills were put to the test.

Though we had highly qualified instructors with us, we were still left to our own devices when it came to directing and managing ourselves.

Some call it lost; personally, we like to call it a detour.

And besides, who doesn't love crawling through matagouri and thorns, untangling hair from manuka tree and gorse?

The banter never fails to entertain us even when pulling ourselves up [seemingly] vertical hills by tussocks.

The feeling of finally reaching the summit, puffing and wheezing, overshadows the aching feet and limbs when we look out over the Wanaka Basin; the panorama view of the glass-like lake, towering mountains and encompassing valleys.

One of the main ideas drilled into us is to always keep a positive mindset.

Whenever you start to get into that negative place of ''I just want to be at home now'' or ''Why am I even doing this?'', you bring yourself back, look at the scenery and remember, ''Pain is just weakness leaving the body''.

In fact, another golden rousing quote from our ruthless instructor Bruno was exclaimed in the pitch-dark early hours when we were all feeling groggy: ''I love walking up hills first thing Sunday mornings!''

I think this resonates with us all, in that we feel stronger, both mentally and physically after a long day of outdoor pursuits.

We forget about the small things that pain us (like waking up early, getting out of the vans into the crisp morning air, the first half-hour of walking) and spend the rest of the day enjoying each other's company.

We also surprise ourselves with the challenges we manage to overcome and the fizzing feeling at the end of a 14-hour day once we have debriefed, hosed down the vans and plonked our bottoms on the sofa long after sunset, preparing ourselves for the next day's challenge: school.


By Olivia Bonifant, Patti Barnes and Anna Wardman, Year 13, Mount Aspiring College


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