Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Shaky Isles, Part 2: Every Step Counts


[Lake Wakatipu: the northern end looking towards Kinloch and the Humboldt Range]


Ah pedometer, my friend! Since May this year I have faithfully slipped you onto my belt, and set off to do more than my target of 10 000 steps per day.

Nominally this devotion has been in the name of the Global Corporate Challenge, a world-wide event that encourages people to team up and get moving, with step counting as one motivation. But in truth I’ve always had a more personal motivation, and that is to be active, healthy and able to keep walking – in particular bushwalking – for at least another couple of decades. And my pedometer has helped to keep me honest about how active I actually am.

On work days I walk the five and a half kilometres from home to the office. Between that, a few bushwalks and some regular training walks, I’ve managed to average nearly 12 000 steps per day for the last four months or so.

I first came to appreciate pedometers about four years ago, during a long stay in New Zealand. My first trusty pedometer helped in training for some of the Great Walks we had planned to do back in 2006. That “wee” counter had even survived an accidental dunking in the toilet. A bit of drying out in front of the fire restored it to full service, and it kept me honest until, like Gollum’s “Precious”, it slipped off and was lost.

Of course, to paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it’s not about the pedometer. The little digital device is just a tool, a way of making visible something that is otherwise slow to become visible. And that is health and fitness, and general well-being. Not that the use of a pedometer is a guarantee of these things, as we have found during our present visit to the Shaky Isles. Despite all the training and planning, health issues rather than earthquakes have intervened. We have made the hard decision to abandon our planned tramp on the Greenstone/Caples Track near Lake Wakatipu. Instead we will nurse our health, and do some gentler exploration of the Southern Lakes and Fiordland areas of this beautiful country.



[a recently fallen red beech leaf (Nothofagus fusca) in a forest near Kinloch, New Zealand]


Decision made, we head out for a pre-lunch consolatory stroll in some of the beautiful red beech forest near our accommodation at Kinloch. The forest is grand, green and serene. At one spot I am drawn to a fallen red beech leaf. Against the mossy green it stands out like the flame of a single candle, lit as a prayer in this green and holy space. It is prayer for health and healing.




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