Today I selected my most comfortable pair of high heels for a triumphant occasion. It was the final day of a challenge encouraging anyone to hike to the summit of our local mountain for 10 days straight.
The rules were simple; go from the bottom to the very top every day and post a selfie to prove to the other participants that you did it.
Well, in this small town of over-achieving cruisers, things can get competitive. Our enthusiastic dozen posted selfies announcing ever-decreasing PB times, sunrise shots (to me, getting up at 5.15am to run is the mark of over-achievement), nude shots, photos of themselves carrying backpacks full of weights, and wearing fancy dress.
In challenging myself, how could I up the ante? The answer was in the wardrobe.
As a girl, few sounds were more exotic than the rhythmic, hollow clip-clop of high heels on a pavement.
As a woman, my wardrobe is full of high-heeled shoes, an impractical collection given that I work from home in a small coastal town.
Three inches of additional womanhood in the form of a pair of favourite heels would provide me with my version of the ultimate test on Day 10 of the Manaia Kitchen & Bar Mt Paku Mission.
I ran the risk of gossips calling me out on a walk of shame at 11am, and there was also a boulder-strewn final ascent ahead, but neither were a match for the sense of accomplishment from conquering the summit in these babies.
An observation on the start of my mission; Although wearing heels, I was dressed in the same daggy exercise wear I have worn to tackle the summit for the past nine days. Yet on this day as I clip-clopped up the road leading to the summit, a gentleman driver offered me a lift.
Yes, there is something truly magical about heels. Just ask Cinderella.
Ask google about the origin of the high heel and you get this: It lies with male horse-riding warriors in the Middle East who used high heels for functionality, because they help hold the rider's foot in stirrups.
Some 40 years have passed since I waded through my mum’s wardrobe and plucked from the darkness the masterpiece of footwear that, interestingly, she never thought to wear horse riding, but did so because it gives one height, calf muscles and makes you appear as though you have made a bit of an effort.
The smarter sex claimed them for our own uses, and here in 2017 I bounded, warrior-like from boulder to boulder on the final climb to the summit, momentarily pausing only to hand my phone to two tourists from Germany.
The kind Germans may have been perplexed at the choice of footwear worn by locals during hikes up mountains but obligingly took my photo with an apologetic comment rather than a question. “My balance is really bad,” the woman said as she leaned trustingly on the man at her side, “So I must take it very slow.”
As I passed ahead of this loving couple painstakingly walking down the summit at the end of my own 10-day mission, I reflected on how grateful I am for my own beautifully functioning body.
For 10 days I prioritised the exercise of it; filling the lungs with fresh air and putting the heart through the exertion of pumping oxygenated blood to my muscles. I felt fitter, stronger, happier at the end, enjoying the view from the top, in my heels.
If you're spending a lot of your day in bare feet, then chances are you have found the kind of balance that Hook & Arrow writer Alison Smith has found in life.