One of the great pleasures of having given up the day job is that you have the time to do things that you previously only managed now and then. Our local Ramblers group, in the tiny town in NZ in which I am fortunate enough to spend part of my year, is mainly made up of retired people, albeit some of them early retired. We're none of us spring chickens. But a steady walk on the flat is not for us. Once a fortnight we head for the hills. As you get older, it's important to keep the moving bits moving.
We have experienced trampers in our group and we follow the rules of bush trekking, taking plenty of food and water with us. Mobile phones don't work in this environment and if anyone had a fall there'd be no suitable place for the emergency helicopter to land.
The bush has a therapeutic effect on mind, body and spirit and it's one of the things I miss most when I leave New Zealand. It's not a quiet place. It's alive with the sounds of cicadas and the calls of native birds. Curious Fantails flit around you as you walk, hoping you'll disturb some flying insect life. The Tui's throaty call pierces the air. There's a scent of something half recognized; a herb or sorts. And wild flowers in abundance where the sun breaks through the canopy of tree ferns. Small streams trickle down steep hillsides making rocks precariously slippery. Exposed tree roots lay in wait, ready to trip the unwary. Tracks become ambiguous and overgrown. The bush can be a dangerous place - a group of walkers insignificant in the face of thousands of acres of wilderness. The bush demands respect.