2/21 A One K Day

Parkhead Motel to Tailor Made Backpackers

1 k

I slept so well again, waking up to the still gentle, still continuous rain. Little peeks through the clouds hint at a load of snow up high, and when I crack the door to see how cold it actually is outside, it is really cold, perhaps colder than yesterday. I turn up the heater and make some coffee, then burrow back into bed.

Unfortunately, check out is 10:00 and a room never opened up for us to lengthen our stay (probably best for our bank accounts) so we pack up all the things that have been airing around the fantastic glorious blue room of luxury. We sit in the chairs at the picture window one last time, watching the mist swirl on the lake, then bundle up in rain gear and leave the refuge behind to go meet Mouse at the Doughboys bakery.

Funnily enough, the walk from the motel to the hostel is the route of the TA, so we don’t even have to feel bad about not gaining progress today. 1 k down, and it’s time for a break! Thank goodness it’s only 1 k, as for some insane reason I reason that wearing my sandals is a good idea- some vague concept that they my skin will dry faster than my trail runners and therefore be less cold than wearing soaked shoes, ; and that somehow not soaking my shoes will bolster what’s left of them. But, by a quarter of the way there my feet are so cold that they are aching with a bone-stabbing, hobble-inducing, piercingly acute cold.

We have coffees, quiches, fish burger, chips, and a range of custard and chocolate treats to cover breakfast and lunch. They are satisfying, but sadly, when I ask if they make the pastries here (I thought I recognized a few conspicuous choices from carbon copies of bakeries run by disinterested staff elsewhere), the woman laughs as if the question is absurd and says no, of course not.

The man at the backpackers had said we could come at noon, so we each read or write or chat on our phones until enough time has gone by, and we swing through the grocery store on the way to the hostel. We grab our single day’s resupply, some frozen pizzas to make for tonight, and fixings for a semi-epic salad. If only resupplies were all so easy. And light. One of the best things about this particular resupply trip, though, is who we run into. While we are standing in the bulk bin aisle, trying to imagine which snack we will crave the most tomorrow, we engage in the each-trying-to-stay-out-of-each-others-way-while-both-looking-at-the-same-items dance with a woman who isn’t familiar at first, but who turns out to be Caroline, of Justin and Caroline of the Hunter Creek Hut. And they are staying at the same hostel!

We trudge the last two blocks in the icy drizzle and locate the hostel building, although not which door to enter. Circling the premises, we find the little shed marked reception, and James welcomes us in.

He gives us the tour, where our room is, where the sitting room room is with a stack of board games and a potbelly stove cranking out heat, the great kitchen with its succulent potted plants and and inviting benches. There is even a black flop-eared rabbit named Cocoa, a guinea pig named Star, and a cat whose name I never learn which are communal pets. Chickens roam the yard, their fresh eggs for sale, and a labeled, flourishing herb garden is planted outside one of the main entries. All the decorative and clever storage details look as if they were inspired from Pinterest, most items repurposed, perhaps from thrift stores, in a very tasteful, undilapidated way. Our room is an emergency let-out for TA hikers in bad weather, an old office room that was converted to stretch space in a town that is often booked full. I expected to nest among filing cabinets and stacks of papers, but it is a neat, simple, bedroom with two beds, two tables, a heater, and rubber water bottles. James explains that part of the reason he invited us early is that the internet data allotment resets each day at 2:00, and he has learned that many hikers need to download their next set of maps at Lake Tekapo; now we can download the maps and still have data later in the day to call and email home. Tailormade Backpackers is absolutely delightful.

We spend some time chatting with Justin and Caroline, and Mouse curls up literally around the space heater in our shared room, as apparently the other hostel was freezing cold. I write a bit more and have a wander outside, seeing if I can find any insoles for sale in any unexpected places, dreading the next two days of bigger miles on gravel and paved bikeway, hoping to cushion the ever-decreasing nightly revival in my feet. No luck, and I return to the hostel, eagerly anticipating an early dinner of pizza and ginger beer. (That expression on Prana’s face is delight, in case that isn’t apparent.)

The evening whizzes by, and I pack everything to be ready for an early morning, early enough to accommodate a long day of k’s after three days of stalled momentum.

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