Bewildered by Laura Waters is a book I wanted to read. I tend to listen more than I read now, but I only lose myself in those books I read.
I discovered Bewildered on “Lotsafreshair.com,” an Australian website that I stumbled upon somewhere down the internet Rabbit Hole. Like on my hikes, many of my favorite places are often found by accident.
This is a book of self-discovery, and I’m not usually excited by those, but the Te Araroa Trail is on my list of “Trails to Hike.” No shocker since most trails are on the list, but this is a 3,000-kilometer trail across the North and South Islands of New Zealand, where Lord of the Rings was filmed! Need I say much more? The scenery alone is mesmerizing.
The book is a quick, easy read. It moves at a good pace and drew me in immediately, opening in the first moments of the hike. I connected with aspects of the hike itself – the physical and emotional challenges of a long-distance hike and the rigors associated with this type of hike.
Following along as Laura struggled with the complexities of gear, logistics, and the unknown was something that stirred up fond and not-so-fond memories.
What resonated the most was the evolution of Laura’s confidence and self-awareness. While this growth took Laura in a different direction than my journeys have taken me, the circumstances that drove these changes were where I connected the most with the story.
I enjoyed experiencing Te Araroa through Laura’s eyes. At the time she hiked the trail, it seems to have been a more raw and rugged experience than it probably is today. Trail barely marked long road walks, dangerous river crossings, small unknowing locals and towns.
When people discuss the Continental Divide Trail in the US, you will often hear the phrase: “Embrace the Brutality.” The Te Araroa sounds very similar. I had a lot of “Bewildered” moments during my hike on the CDT.
While there were aspects of the story, and Laura’s personality, to which I didn’t really relate, other moments made me nod in understanding. “There was nothing to it but to keep going.” Those are some of the moments that drove her change and made me smile even more.
The book was worth the time it took to read it. I enjoyed following along on Laura’s pilgrimage of growth and self-discovery.