India 2013-291


I am desperately trying to find reference points, but they do not seem to exist. A pattern or a guiding light into some direction, none of that is present at the moment and it puts me in a very observing state. I have never been the biggest goal setter, things would normally come my way and when I would set goals, I would achieve them and they sometimes manifested faster then I thought. This is different though, I quit my job and for the first time, I had no real goal, just some ideas and vague plans, but knew anything would be open and I was about to embark on a journey of change, that is what I set out to do and that is what I got. I wanted and needed change and in my head it is like ripping out all the old weeds and sowing new things, I have no idea what the end result will look like, all I know is where to sow them.

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My initial ‘plan’ was to walk parts of the South Island, and I have been doing a few tracks, some of them I had done before and some new ones, tracks which were on the things to do list. But the plan changed a bit and I pulled out of some walks I was planning to do and chipping my front teeth again meant I had to get them fixed. After a little research I stumbled on this website in India, Mumbai. That was totally not the plan, but I quit my job and with no solid income I was looking for a cheaper option! A re-root and two new porcelain crowns are not cheap here and it’s a fraction of the price in Mumbai. I also had a wedding invitation in Pune, which for Indian standard is just around the corner from Pune. I rang my mum and she just saw a documentary about a Dutch dentist who went to have a look at the Dental service in Mumbai and was very impressed. So all things pointed to India, still I have no Idea what is waiting for me there, it can’t be just my teeth?

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My ticket is for 3 month, but do you think I have any idea what I am going to do there? This seems to be the state of my mind for the last month and I am accepting it as much as I am fighting it, don’t I need a plan, a destination? Is it good to just let go and float? It feels weird and new to me but maybe this is what I need to do to get to new waters. My only goal is change, but is that a goal itself?

I was born in India and I will be there for my birthday, I want to visit the hospital I was born in, if it’s still there and do a meditation course in the place I was supposed to be born, but that is all the plans I have. I have no plans for when I get back to NZ.

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I think it’s the mind that just can’t seem to handle this. This state of not knowing where to go, no plan, no direction, just existing, that is what the mind can’t handle.

I can hear it scream, ‘what will happen, what will happen’ and I just don’t know.

I wonder has anyone ever been on a journey where you had no idea where you were going? And isn’t it ironic that when I quit my job, everybody was asking, and still is, what are you going to do, the one question I did not want to hear. Sometimes all you want to do is eat and sleep and have no other big plans and goals.


So, in a little bit more then two weeks I will board the plane to India and land in Mumbai, the place where ‘Shantaram’ took place. If you have not read that book, I can highly recommend it!!! This is one of the best books I have read and the main character is on a similar journey in essence as he has no real control and just has to surrender. I am looking forward to the experience and things to come and will try to let my images do the talking.





All good things take time, they say! It took me 10 years to finally drag my ass up Ben Lomond and make it up to Lochnagar and the walk up to Lochnagar took me a life time, not sure if that was a good thing though. Climbing up a steep slope on slippery grass through thick bush and ‘Spaniards’ to remind you of your poor trail reading skills and push their needle sharp spikes in your legs and hands every time you slide back down the hill, which was with every step.


Now this might sound worse then it is! The drive in to The Branches station is spectacular but you will need a 4×4 and some experience on narrow dusty roads. There is not much room to maneuver when the guys from the Bungee or Rafting come out the valley with their busses. We saw a lady driving into the valley with a 2 wheel drive rental, sure she must have been looking for the crown range, and on passing she looked at me like a rabbit in headlights. (Do not take your rental car here!!! No insurance will cover you!)


If you would like to go into the Valley and past The Branches station, make sure you get the Email from DOC and contact James and get in touch with him. This is not a DOC track and there are no markers.

The first bit of the trail is fairly easy, you can follow the river bed when the water is low, or follow the 4×4 trail, I don’t think you can get lost on the first section to be honest and this did not take me much time at all, so I was very optimistic for an early arrival at Lake Lochnagar.



Spirits were still high when I started my climb up to Lochnagar, a wide path was leading into the valley and I’m sure somebody must have tried to take a car up to the lake, those back country farmers have no fear I think. I learned from my previous mistakes and if I loose the trail I go back and retrace my steps to find the trail again before I carry on. Because this is not a very busy route, you have to concentrate, I tend to be up in Lala land when I walk and easily loose the trail when it takes a sharp turn. The Maps show that the trail stops at some stage so when I got to the ‘Goatel’ rock bivouac I could not find the trail and thought, this must be the spot where it ends and took a left here, only to realize on my descend 2 days later that there is a trail and I missed it by 2 meters! In my defense I must say, it was not easy to see, and the guys I met in the hut agreed!

This is where the horrible scramble started and by the end I was questioning why I am doing this? This was not fun, adventure yes, but fun? So when I finally got to the top and the lake and the hut I had a cup of Tea and just went to sleep, I was too tired to do anything. I did wake up just before sunset and knew this must have been an amazing sunset in Queenstown, but I could only see the tail end of it.


I was so tired, I felt I could curl up and sleep for a week, but the wind thought differently and kept me up for most of the night. The views of the lake in the morning with the impressive mountains surrounding it were the reward for all that hard work. I made myself a cuppa and went for a little stroll in the area, and ofcourse, I found the trail I should have take up the hill! At this stage I was not quit sure if I wanted to stay for another day or not and decided I would have a little snooze first . The weather had not been great and I was not happy with my photos and the current light conditions so I did not really want to go down and have 2 photos from the trip that I was happy with, chances that I will be back here any time soon would be pretty slim.

4.30 pm there was a knock on the door and I woke up from my snooze and Bram and Haydn stood at the door and looked like I must have looked the day before. Totally shattered and I was actually quit pleased to hear that they lost the trail too and took an even harder route up. So we had a story to share and it was nice to have some company in the hut. Their plan was to pack raft to the other side of the lake, then climb up the wall and drop into the Rees Valley and pack raft out to Glenorchy, but the wind was too strong and we all got up early and packed our bags for the return trip to the car park

It was so easy and the walk to the car did not take any time at all, we kept laughing how easy the walk on the trail is and how we suffered the day before. We still had to stop a few times and make sure we are on the right trail but we got to the ‘Goate’ rock bivouac with ease and marked the trail a bit better for other trampers. When we got to the Subterranean Outlet Lookout we put some more markers up, this is where the other 2 guys went the wrong way, and we continued our walk down the hill. A flying fox and a few river crossing later and we got back to the car and drove to Queenstown for a ice cold beer! Beer must have been invented for moments like this, it never tasted better!

This walk is for experienced walkers only! Check in with DOC for more info or drop me a line.