Solo reviewed on Kete


Alex Eagles has reviewed Solo: Backcountry adventuring in Aotearoa New Zealand, by Hazel Phillips, on Kete. She says:

‘In 2017, after packing her life into a tramping pack and swapping high heels for boots and gaiters, Hazel Phillips decided to become “intentionally homeless.” For three years she lived almost entirely in tramping huts and alpine club lodges around Aotearoa while holding down a full-time job in communications.

Solo: Backcountry adventuring in Aotearoa New Zealand is the resulting autobiographical account of the author’s physical and emotional journey as she traversed backcountry trails from Ruapehu to Fiordland in search of herself.

While Solo has been released just in time for the 20th New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival (24 June - 2 July), it not a book just for serious hikers. For those new to tramping or contemplating more adventurous treks, Phillips talks about how she gradually increased her fitness and skill level from overweight and inexperienced to a fit veteran doing treks lasting weeks through rugged (often icy) terrain.

The book also includes a pack full of practical information as the author shares tips, track and hut reviews, useful gear - including extra underwear, safety issues - especially being prepared for changing weather and how to deal with people who put you down by proving them wrong.

While I have never been as adventurous as the author, I have done my share of multi-day and altitude tramping. Phillip’s definition of “type two fun” - experiences that are “not fun at the time” but later make up some of your best and most enduring trekking memories - brought back my own fond tramping recollections including being nearly swept away in a river, wading through a swamp up to my thighs and having a mouse fall on my face in an alpine hut.

Much to my surprise, however, it was the author’s personal journey that I found most intriguing as she strove to overcome her fears, deal with heartache and find a place to belong. While the book is mainly about tramping, snippets of Phillip’s private life are finely woven through the pages.’

Read more here.