12/8 A Thousand K’s

Bog Inn Hut to Mystery Creek Shelter

33k

It’s tough for me to wake up this morning, and even tougher to accept the fact that the sock-hole blister bubbled further yesterday and will need attended to before hiking this morning. Prana is grouchy, and if I were in a mood to be honest, I would admit to the same. I pierce the blister on the ball of my foot, and inspect a toe whose throbbing woke me up last night. I don’t see much of anything, but when I poke it with the needle, the whole tip deflates, revealing one hell of a blister. Yuck. For whatever reason, filth or nerve proximity or my own petulant frailty this morning, the blister threading burns more shrilly than I can recently remember. I moodily consider going on hike strike to force a day off, but there is too much coordination involved until we put on the river, so I put on my big girl panties and get on with the day.

It’s a slow break-in until the blisters go numb, and then the day starts looking up. The bizarre GI issue from yesterday has disappeared without a trace, and the pleasing track continues through the resplendent forest.

The highlight of the trail today is bridges! The Timber Trail follows a series of components for logging: trails, roads, a tramway converted when the rails were pulled up. The series of gorges we traverse used to be the confining factors for different logging and milling operations, creating barriers with their void. Today suspension bridges cross hundreds of feet above the creeks that form them below. I had thought the bridges would be disappointing, creating an over-developed feel; instead they are complementary to their surroundings, contributing to a sense of adventure, and allow a gorgeous perspective of the forest just not available from within.

The longest suspension bridge in NZ is on the trail today, and the signs tell of the methodology in fascinating detail. The cables were pre stretched in the factory, calculated to the exact necessary length, then installed by helicopter. The bolts to take slack out of new stretch are massive.

Even though I know the milestone is approaching, I’m surprised to see that someone has artfully created a sign for 1000 K. One thousand kilometers! One third of the trail! It seems simultaneously impossible and undeniable that such a large portion is already behind us.

We wait for Ellie and Bro, and take a flock photo. Not far beyond the 1000 k mark, we find this one the ground:

Hahaha, I guess Tristan and Jennifer have chosen.

As we walk, Ellie and I ask each other questions. What was your favorite campsite of the last 1000 k? (Hers- Captaine Bougainville, mine- sand dunes) Favorite meal? (Hers- avocado and fresh tomato wraps, mine- birthday gnocchi). Favorite holiday park? (Both- Ahipara) Favorite trick to learn? (Hers- threading blisters and packing up in under an hour, mine- preparing an eel) We reach km 1007 and the Timber Lodge, a beautiful new building without too much for hikers. Mario & Peach are having celebratory drinks, but we all have to move down to the campsite across the road to prepare our lunches. No worries. The campsite is a huge open field with a large shelter- Mario and Peach and Bro decide to stay here. Again, much laughing ensues over lunch, and then Prana and Mouse and I tackle the last 12 k. Our camp is also pleasant, though not as expansive. As Prana and I are pitching the home, Ellie jogs into camp. What?! “Yeah, my blisters hurt so much, it didn’t hurt as bad when I ran. I thought it was only 2 k, but when I realized it was 4 k, I just kept running.”

Prana gallantly does all the evening chores, so I can catch up on some writing. In a stroke of perfect timing, as we tuck into bed, the faucet of the sky switches on.

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