A Tough Easy Walk – Williams Valley

“On a Mish” #331 A Tough Easy Walk. Williams Valley. Hanmer Range. St James Conservation Area. 6.6.2022. One of my goals is to still be hiking and skateboarding at 50 and even though “it” has tried, it will take a lot more than what’s happened over the last couple of years to stop this happening. We all face setbacks and it is up to you to regain those places and beyond in the game of life. To make things easier I have turned my setbacks into mini challenges, and at this stage of my battle those mini challenges have seemed like massive obstacles to overcome. Even with hernias and even with my bad hip, I refuse to simply sit back and watch my fitness disappear, again!

The madness of sitting around suffering at the early stages of my hip injury is an experience I never want to repeat, even with the added pressure of my hernias. I took this attitude into Molesworth Station on a mission around the historic dwelling of the Acheron Homestead, and to keep the rhythm up the next day Te Whanau headed back over Jacks Pass, just north of Hanmer Springs. But this time we turned left and headed towards the St James Homestead and Conservation Area.

I was still feeling the effects of our day exploring the Acheron / Clarence River area and on the drive I felt every bump on the gravel road up and over Jacks Pass to the beginning of our exploration of the Williams Valley. Mt St Patrick(1774m) stands tallest at the end of a small, stunning valley, and below the peak is Hanmer Springs Ski Field. To make things easier on my broken body the plan was to just follow the road as far as my legs will let me. The forecast morning rain had been and gone, so we were very lucky to have clear skies above us as we parked up beside the St James Homestead. We had Bev (Nanny) with us again, and she joined us briefly as we began our wander up the valley. My hiking poles were working overtime as I needed to put extra weight on both poles and my right leg (good leg) to keep me moving forward. After a long straight in the open, the valley closed in around us and then the road began to climb. I could only go a short way up the hill before I knew going any further would end badly. however the short, sharp climb was enough to give us some excellent vistas back down the valley. For some strange reason uphill seems less straining on my hernias and on the return journey it became more apparent how much we had climbed. Uphill not so bad, downhill very bad. Once again I had my hiking poles working hard as I needed them to slowly lower myself back down the mountain road back to the St James Homestead. I was running on instinct as I shuffled my way back to the car, and once there I needed a sit down. The mish was an easy walk up an easy slope on a road. But to me it was like a long grind up a steep slope towards a high alpine peak. And it is the vision of me doing exactly that (standing on top of a mountain again) in the future that keeps me fighting against my setbacks. I know I can do it, however I would rather not have any more setbacks please!

Looking back down the valley from our high point

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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