19 September 2012 — Patience mattered today. Patience actually matters everyday, but it came to the forefront of my mind today. Leon needed it from me. Others did as well.
Greg struggled with some of the steeper walking, the sheer terrain dotted with tussocks of snow grasses, spaniard and speargrass made for unstable and difficult walking. Moving along the loose rock and scree put his balance to the test and the steeper terrain challenged his endurance. Walking slowly with him and making conversation helped out a lot.
“Oh man, I think I lost my water bottle” Leon moans as we sit and stop for our second break of the day.
“Really?” I respond, somewhat nonplussed. “Did it fall out? When was the last time you saw it?”
“I am not sure, but I will go see if it did not fall out in the last 100 yards or so” he offers up as he turns and walks down the grassland, looking here and there, trying to catch a glimpse of the blue REI Nalgene. He comes back dejected and empty handed and paws through his pack one more time. “Yep, it is not here” he laments, sitting on his pack and shaking his head.
“Didn’t I ask you to make sure there was nothing left behind at our last break?” I ask.
“Yeah, I looked, but there was this one small hole it could have fallen into…” he trails off.
“Would you like me to go with you to help look for it? I ask. It is the third day of his 70+ day semester here in New Zealand. I stand up. “We will be back in a bit” I say to Greg and Thomas and advise them to put some layers on. We start walking in the general direction from where we came, looking at a wavy sea of tussocks and I begin to realize the enormity of our task. A needle in a haystack comes to mind. We wander westward and down, not really knowing at all where we walked, but following the general trajectory. We meander, eyes peeled on the ground, with one indistinct tussock of snow grass blending in with the next. Nothing sticks out. Ahead in the distance I see the lone tree we wandered past almost an hour earlier. We make our way over to the base of the shrubby, juniper-esque mountain totara tree and look around. We find nothing and continue down through the long brown bunches of grass. Somewhere below I identify our break spot, a flatter, moister area amid a sloping field of the bunch grasses. I call down to Leon who has gone further on down the hill. “Hey, I think this is where we took a break last time.” He slowly makes his way back up the hillside towards me.
“Yeah, that is where I sat” he says as he runs toward the area, tripping and falling flat in the process. Without hesitation he is up again and reaching into a hole. He holds up the bottle as if claiming his prize. “Sweet” he blurts.
“Well I guess it was worth the walk” I say. We turn around, look back up the hill and start walking again.
Back at the break site Greg and Thomas are bundled against the light breeze. “Let’s take ten more minutes” I say once I have reclaimed my position sitting on my pack. I look over at Leon who is once again sitting on his pack as well, but is now bending over and picking up spilled trail mix. I smile, shake my head and walk over to help him pick the crushed chili mix out of the lichen, moss and dirt.
Sometimes that is all you can do.