1/13 Along Queen Charlotte Sound

School House Bay to Bay of Many Coves Campsite

29 k

I am so ready to hike! I feel fantastic after our day of mental rest yesterday.

The Weka friends are wading in the ocean’s edge when I wander down this morning.

We start hiking early to a great temperature. The trail is well graded, wide and smooth. There are beautiful views of the sound.

We cross many perfectly clear streams coming in from the side, some barely a trickle, others filling the rocky creek bed.

At our first saddle we check for cell reception. Prana noticed in the notes last night that we should have made reservations for the Pelorus Bridge campsite, and when we call with one bar’s worth of service and explain through the bad connection why we are calling the man on the other end reassures us he will take care of us when we arrive and we will have a place to camp. I also receive an email from Jonathon at the Wellington post office that the Christmas letter from my parents did indeed arrive right after we left, and he forwarded it to Queenstown. What a relief to at least know where it is now! We meet one of the three from the campsite last night, Rafiki, a hiker from Vermont who designed and sewed his own pack and did a talented job.

The track drops down the back of the saddle and contours close to the ocean for most of the way around the Endeavor Inlet. It tunnels through the trees, a good deal of which is original forest. There are rocky beaches leading into the turquoise water, many little guest houses and clubhouses, and quite a few picnic tables. We have lunch at one with an unhindered view of the ocean, and a woman from Portugal dayhiking the track from guest house to guest house joins us.

At the last water source before the next ridge top stretch, we stop to filter what we will need for the rest of the day and tomorrow morning. The site we are aiming to camp at in the middle has old notes that warn the faucet on the rain tank is broken, so we will carry enough for 18 k in case it’s still true. Because we are carrying it, the faucet will probably be fixed. We’ve made good time to here, so we reward ourselves with a gratuitous break on a beach where the small stripe of sand is perfectly shaded by tree ferns. We work on a puzzle and camel up on water.

The climb up to Kenepuru Saddle is relatively gentle, and then we are up on a forested ridge for awhile. We talk about names as we hike- our good friends are having their first baby, and we spend miles coming up with the best suggestions we can.

We see a stretch of demanding signs…Go To Eatwells Lookout…Don’t Miss Eatwells Lookout…Turn Here Now!!!!!! For some reason this aggressive advertising is having an opposite effect to the one intended. When we reach the fork up to the lookout, I realize I am perfectly satisfied with the views we’ve been getting so far. We sit at the picnic table and have a snack, while a Weka boldly tries to snatch the ziploc bag from the gap between the boards of the bench seat. When we attempt to outwit it by moving up to the table level, it simply hops up onto the bench and then onto the tabletop, like a a cute little velociraptor. Well played, Weka.

We follow the forested ridge to the Bay of Many Coves campsite, where Rafiki and several other hikers are conversing in the cooking shelter. The water tap, of course, works perfectly. “Did you go up to the Lookout??” Rafiki asked. “Nah.” “It was awesome. Great views 360 degrees!”

We find a quiet Manuka copse to set our tent up in, and are greeted and scrutinized by a trio of Wekas. I wonder briefly if I should pull my shoes and socks in, or if they are at risk of being carried off in the night. I journal, then read the opening chapters from some of the books I have downloaded to my phone. None strike my fancy, so I fall asleep easily and early again.

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