Before, I always thought of Shania Twain as just a superstar purveyor of mass-market, gloss country anthems — you know, the kind that played non-stop over the speakers at Wal-Mart circa 1997 (don't lie, you were there). But now, she's redeemed herself as a friend to the backpacking community: Twain's opened a public, three-day hiking track that crosses her 61,000-acre property in the rugged mountains of New Zealand's South Island.
Twain and her husband/producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange, bought the land under the condition that they would allow public access to a national trail for climbers, mountain bikers, hikers, and hunters. The property encompasses towering mountains, wide meadows, tundra, and forests, and half of it is said to be above the snowline. New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark hailed Twain's efforts as "a whole new benchmark for what can be achieved with a change of ownership" of public lands, and Clark joined Twain at the official opening ceremony on Mar. 13. Here's the footage:
It doesn't look like there's a whole lot of leave-no-trace ethics going on there, but hopefully the situation will improve once the reporters leave town. Twain hasn't hiked the entirety of the trail, though she said "but I will."
Additionally, Lange and Twain have worked with New Zealand's Department of conservation to build huts and other facilities along the track. It's maybe not as nice as the couple's gigantic mansion on the hill, but it's swell gesture nonetheless.
Wow, I would've never guessed that "From This Moment On" Shania would "Impress Me Much" by inviting the public to "Come On Over" to her hiking track.
Sorry. I'll stop now. — Ted Alvarez