Another lovely night’s rest and now Vern drives me on the windy rollercoaster of a road back to Stone House to begin the next section, this time alone. The morning is cool and quiet and I’m on my way to Paihia, tuis fluting in the trees, a few roosters announcing a new day.
I already lost my trail notes. Not to worry, since they’re on my phone, but damn if they didn’t drop without my noticing. At least here it’s a sidewalk until the forest and my breakfast spot. My eye is much better. I’m covered head to toe, gloves, buff, long sleeves and pants, hat, sunglasses. The flowers are ridiculously fragrant.
I enter the Waitangi forest. In New Zealand, the g’s is soft, so it sounds like I am describing the reason I love a tasty morsel. Why, tangy! It’s just me here on this cool fern-lined track. The pines are American imports.
What makes this non-stop challenge worth it?
The birds the view, the wildness, and the friends.
I’ve been invited to stay the night at one of the most extraordinary homes I’ve ever been to, in the countryside near Kerikeri, out on a peninsula looking towards the islands. I have a huge, soft bed all to myself, the window open to the crashing waves and a full-on, thru-hiker sized pasta dinner. Incredibly generous Cam and Vicki take in a few strays and let us clean up and rest.
And now I have pink eye. Irene has been sick this entire week unable to shake a sore throat, and maybe I caught something from her. Or, it could have been the battering sand, wind, and never being quite clean. Likely a signal to chill out now after over 200k tramping.
What do you think, is a rest – or ‘zero’ – day warranted? I have been driving pretty hard, mostly to be able to share the limited time with Irene who flies home Tuesday. Don’t worry. That cool hiker friend will make another appearance in the story when I make it to Hamilton next month.
When I was a little girl my parents divorced. It confused the hell out of me. I never quite felt certain I was loved and belonged, mostly because the two were so wrapped up in the unfolding drama. I remember one particular Thanksgiving shuttled off to my dad’s and then driving to friend’s in Maine with his latest girlfriend.
The morning comes full of birdsong. The first few nights – especially going this hard – are tough. My legs feel great now, but laying down, they seize up and I shift nearly all night. Woe to the neighboring tenter!
My eyes have their ordinary “check-on” bags, and this morning a bonus – wrinkles! But hey, in this humidity, my hair looks fabulous. At least I’ve got that going for me, though not sure if it’s these killer first days or my aged self, but I am going full on gray (at last!)
Looks like Andi – make that Ondi – and I will tackle the kayaking section together in the coming days. We both want a pause in Kerikeri and so will be well timed. I find her a bit prickly, but she did hunt down the best site here far from the ukulele strumming party hikers. Nice enough, but not quite my cup of tea.
We both pack fast and agree how much we like the little routines of thru-hiking. Funny we also use the same tent. Friends suggested to me before I left that the day-after-day of walking would be boring.
To revisit the topic, isn’t everything a little boring some of the time? The fact is, every day is different, around every bend is something new for the eyes. And isn’t that where attitude comes in?
It’s pitch dark, the waves are crashing and the other six at Twilight are asleep, nestled in their tents. This will be brief, but suffice-to-say, an extraordinary start.
I arrived in Auckland chased by a gibbous waning moon over the Pacific earlier than planned, the plane flying low over water before touching down on a drizzly paradise.
All went smoothly, even with a sprint of nearly half a mile to customs, then a long wait for my tent (tient) to be inspected – be sure to clean everything, including the pegs! – but while my pegs underwent inspection, I had time to snag my new SIM card and pile on data before the line got too long.
The next prop plane took me to the Far North of Kerikeri and the Bay of Islands, where Irene met me, a gal I friended from the Te Araroa women’s group. Her dad and his partner were happy to collect me at the airport and take me the long drive to the Far Far North to ensure Irene had a mate to walk with.