April 8, 2011I tugged my shoulder straps, took a deep breath and tightened my waist belt as far as it would go. Next time, pack less. For 10.25 miles, I contemplated the many things in my bag that I could have done without and the added impact of the inessential on my aging joints. I would leave behind my sneakers. I would take about half the amount of food. I would lose the walking stick. I don't need an extra water bottle. Or a broken headlamp. They say your pack should weigh no more than 1/3 your body weight. If this is true, then I am morbidly obese.
I woke up in the morning to someone's alarm going off thirty minutes before mine. Although it was still dark out, I could not fall back asleep. Waking up is a clamorous musical starring the creaking bed, the rustling sleeping bag, zippers, things being dropped on the floor, flashes of the torch, loud whispers, and doors opening and closing. Up and at 'em! The huts themselves are surprisingly well kept, a series of bunks with thin plastic wrapped mattresses -- something like the ones at the gym that people use for stretching. Despite having earplugs, I barely slept. In general, I am a bad sleeper. Put me in a bunk bed in a foreign land in a room with 39 strangers and sleep is nothing more than an intangible dream. I became fixated on the disturbing sounds of other people sleeping and let the unfamiliar noise overpower my desperate need for rest.
It was a sensational day: sunshine, cute birds, and moss.
Clinton River, clear green water.
The Blue Duck is an endangered species, endemic to wild river
habitats in New Zealand. Blue Ducks are also grey.
Look! It's a fish swimming on the rocky trail!
No, wait. It's actually swimming in the water. Clear water.
Too small to crawl through.
The last few km to the Mintaro Hut are uphill.
The New Zealand Fuchsia [Kotukutuku] is a little conspicuous.
Mintaro Hut, night #2