Ski Field Road to Lake Tekapo Village
The morning is ceilinged with dark and ominous looking clouds, and we step into the wind again as we leave our night’s hunker. It’s mostly road walking today until town, and we break camp quickly to get on with it.
Sunrays pierce the clouds sporadically for a visual show as we walk, and even rainbows that appear and fade. The milky blue waters of the lake are practically luminescent in the bizarre light patterns. Bundles of sun orchids dance and bob in the eddies of the wind, and the kilometers flow by. Despite the beauty that I can objectively recognize, there has been a distinct ennui plaguing my walking for the past week or so. While it is probably exacerbated by the physical discomfort and pain that has been heaping up, it has been creating a mental wall that takes more to push through each day and each hour. As much as I hate having my hand forced for this break, it is probably overdue.
I continue listening to Ready Player One, a somewhat cheesy book with a gripping storyline, perfect for walking to. I don’t catch many of the 80s references, but what I do love is the idea of the quest, the obsession over something possibly pointless, the honing of skills for something simply enjoyed, without social merit (like a video game), the increasing of points and leveling up, concrete feedback for dutiful time spent. It actually sounds a lot like thru hiking. Without the satisfaction of the personal stats page.
We reach Lilybank road and are smack on the edge of Lake Tekapo the rest of the way into town. We stop and eat lunch overlooking the water, then carry on quickly, eager to beat the rain. Mouse and I play the what-do-you-want-most-from-town game as we walk. I desperately, acutely long for a bagel, and have for quite awhile. I don’t know where this specific craving has sprung from, as it has never haunted me before; perhaps it is the sheer bagellessness of this country that has caused it. And, thinking of Karen-of-Tamauranui-Canoe’s chocolate muffins, I also wish for one of those. And a new pair of shoes.
There are several patches of mushrooms that I am 94% sure are Boletus Edulus (porcinis!) but the 6% uncertainty stays my harvesting urge and renews my desire and plan to join some kind of mushrooming group or class this summer.
I am also as certain (and just uncertain enough) that we have passed chanterelles, and something in the hen of the woods family. I must learn!
The wind picks up more, and we reach the municipal park that borders town. The lake is lapping through many trees and over long sections of the trail, even though no rain has fallen yet. We skirt the surging water, and see a picnic table completely submerged, peaking out in the troughs of the waves.
We pop out in the highway, and follow the last leg straight to our hotel. We only heard about this place through word of mouth suggestion, and while I am grateful there was one room left, I am still chafing at the cost. The owner leads us to our room, labeled the Tasman room, and when I see it I am a slightly mollified. It is a beautiful room, decorated in blues with accents of golden yellow, and the entire far wall is a picture window looking over the otherworldly-colored lake. There is a full kitchenette and extra pillows, and strange lounging chairs in front of the window and a French press. This will be an extraordinary break from the trail.
We deposit our packs and head into town for the grocery store, hoping to have no need to leave the room after this trip until checkout. A charming white footbridge crosses the outlet of the lake, and a beautiful small stone church sits on a high point of the shore. We wind through the buildings and stores, and reach a bakery just as they are closing. They allow us to take a few things from the case to go, and I am delighted to choose: a pumpkin seed bagel, and a double chocolate muffin. Hallelujah.
At the grocery store we pile the basket with a cornucopia of fresh fruit, microwave popcorn, gourmet grainy bread, Manuka honey, hummus, chips, avocados, roasted beets, and ice cream. We should be able to survive on this for several days.
Back at the room, we shower and do laundry, and then, relax. Two whole days off! We read and write and snack and wander around in perfect clean windless warm comfort. I work on writing projects, Prana reads, and we both fall asleep as the light drains away on perhaps the comfiest bed to date.