I’m up and out before the house stirs in full rain gear. Just drizzle – and not cold – but a huge contrast on this second day of slackpacking. The generous offer has been given to stay, so I’m taking the time my body and soul craves here in Auckland before getting back on the trail and the big kilometer days ahead.
I arrive in leafy Cornwall Park encouraged to relax and enjoy – but leave the fireworks at home. It’s a gorgeous city park with magnificent trees and – cows! grazing in a field right in the middle of a city.
It really begins pouring and several people comment how I picked a good day for my walk. I escape the rain in the Acacia cottage built by an influential settler. For a moment I feel like these people must have felt – happy to have a solid roof over my head against the elements. A stylish 19th century down coat is spread out on the bed.
It’s definitely a full-on case of ‘because it is there’ as the summit of another volcanic cone, Maungakiecke or One Tree Hill – so named when a settler in an act of vandalism, chopped down its lone tree at sacred to Maori. It’s not on the trail and I’m in almost complete white-out, though not alone as a few runners and old folks with waking sticks touch the top and head right back down.
Still raining, so I peak into one of the cottages in Jellicoe Park. A scavengers dream in piles of old junk on display including five vintage vacuum cleaners, a collection of ‘cocks, taps and valves’ and an organ with sheet music for Christmas in New Zealand with no snow or wooly hats.
A couple of vintage kiwis tell me they’re getting ready for Christmas and quite pleased I came out on such an awful day. I get a mini tour of a “fencible cottage” as the rain lets up, a replica of a soldier’s home built by a woman in the ‘50s who told her husband if he collects any more junk, they’ll need a new house.
The sun begins to peak out just as I reach Manukau Bay. The bridge walk has been diverted to an underpass called ‘muggers alley.’ I plan to save it for my walk with Paula tomorrow.
It’s really urban here at the wharf, but I have a protected sidewalk and the rain just stopped. Now turning back to do some shopping and head back to my friend’s house. It was 11 kilometers, so a pretty significant walk, which I’ll repeat heading back, but looking for other surprises along the way.
I return through the tiny pocket of Taumanu reserve of native plants buffering the traffic noise. I meet two Americans also walking the trail in small bites.
I stop at a fruit and vege and risk a few sauces and a big pack of noodles. The Pak-n-Sav is, well, packed and I find it hard to make healthy food choices. I crave the junkiest food and still get skinny. I spend way too much and the bag is loaded down, and it starts to pour rain again, but I’m safe inside.
Now back at the house with time to sort audio and watch a movie. The best part of resting here? The friendship with Susie. She makes me feel both so normal and so special. I forget how good it is just to be yourself and have someone like you, and her generosity knows no bounds. I am so blessed to have met her, thanks to our mothers’ friendship. I hope I can repay her kindness or at least pay it forward.
With that I say good night, til tomorrow’s adventures.