"It doesn't even feel like I am wearing a pack!"


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January 10, 2024 3 min read

A woman in an Aarn Pack looking out over some hills and sunset while hiking

"Three years ago I did a very memorable trip in the Tararuas. I started from Holdsworth Road end, climbed to the tops and walked across Mt McGregor, the Broken Axe Pinnacles, The Three Kings, Girdlestone, Brockett and Mitre Peak before walking out down Atiwhakatu Stream.

I ran out of gas on my second day and food on my second to last. I got blown off my feet at least twice, took the wrong spur in the low visibility three times and needed to traverse Brockett and Mitre Peak in the incredibly high winds.

I loved every second of it. Because at the time, this trip was perfectly aligned with my motivation for tramping.

Why? Why did I put myself through the ringer on my weekend? Because it was fun?

But shivering in wet clothes, getting tired and hungry, bashing through the bush with a pack that weighs more than a small child, was that fun?

Early into my paddling, one of my friends told me, if I wanted to paddle hard, scary rivers, I needed to have a really strong sense of my whys. My whys being the set of reasons I choose to participate in an activity in a certain way.

A landscape of a valley between two grassy hills


Now, discovering and exploring my why’s is an integral part of the way I choose to recreate. To me, this reflection is as important as counting my lemons.

Coming home safe is not all there is to an adventure. Understanding my whys helps me to prioritize elements of my adventure that create the experiences I am seeking. For example, if I tramped because I wanted to see cool birds, it would make sense to pick trips in areas with good wildlife and short routes so I would have time to stop and observe them.

But why is it so important to understand my whys, you might ask?

My whys provide the intrinsic motivation, motivation from myself. It is this motivation I lean on when things get hard, when I am asking myself ‘why am I here.’

As well as providing motivation, reflecting on my whys helps me rekindle my love when I am low on stoke.

My priorities for tramping used to be largely physical. This meant I prioritized trips that pushed my physical limit, allowing me to walk up bigger steeper hills faster. Over time I became aware I was no longer enjoying these experiences.

Native treetop view and mist

Reflecting on my whys helped me realize my values had changed. I now care more about creating memorable experiences with good people and developing my connection to a place. In light of this I have changed my approach, including trading out my tough old pack for the lighter and more comfortable Aarn pack, and selecting routes based on topography that inspires me rather than distance and elevation.

This process of reflecting on my whys helps me to better understand myself. Like with most exercises in self reflection, this is not an easy process. And, as we grow and change, so do our whys, creating a never ending cycle. The payoff however, are the tools and knowledge of self we can use to create the experiences we truly desire." 

Blog written and photographed by our lovely Aarn-bassador Hazel Meehan! You can check out more posts on her blog here: My (Mis) - Adventures and check out her epic adventures on Instagram here: @hazeldoesstuff - all opinions and thoughts shared in this blog are Hazel's own.