Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Grouch, Luminate, the Heaphy Track and the juggler

"Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security - religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man's thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all mankind."

The above quote came from the myspace page of NZ DJproducer Grouch, whose set I saw at Luminate festival (fest I help to build electronic zone for, spent 2 weeks on site, built this amazing bamboo structure, slept only 10 hours in the 5 days of the festival with hardly any chemical it was beautiful)...

I was really tired physically when his set began, from so much previous dancing, but his set was basically like a physiotherapy session for me....I used the music to do massive stretches to, and....oh fuck I don't know how I am going to explain this. It's like a musical representation of an orgasm in slow the gooiest juiciest most deep moment, paused and allowed to be squiremed around in utter ecstasy in for an going soooo deep underground, into the firey core of the earth and also way way out into space, like being twisted into and stretched out of massive knots. There were points at which I felt like weight was being lifted from my body, like I was dancing in ways I had never danced before.

Musically I don't know enough to be able to really describe/compare it. It was like a journey. Emotionally as well. All the people I loved most in the world came to my mind whilst listening to this set...

And all of this was not under the influence of any drugs. Just pure energy and musical fucking joyousness and perfect moment/time calibration! There were times I was dancing with my eyes closed and visualising flying through space, other hard to explain i just really feel like it was a massive opening and exploratory experience.


Below is the account of a 5 day adventure into nature on foot, during which I was writing each day and have copied word for word what I wrote at the time...enjoy!

Tuesday 9th Feb

My desire to document my time at Luminate seems to have been overcome by my intense longing for resolve in this situation with the mysterious Lithuanian juggler. And so now is the eve of my embarkation on a mission during which I might intercept him. As good an excuse as any, for me to finally take on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the one I was first told about and so highly recommended all that time ago, and was talking about even before I learnt that HE was doing it – The Heaphy Track. Me, my feet, some food and clothes, and about 80km of nature. Yummy! As for what I will do if I run into him...well...firstly I think I’ll have time to ponder this as I’m walking, and secondly, I think that whatever happens, this is part of the theme of the walk, and some amount of resolve must surely result from it, regardless of whether our paths actually cross.

...not that I can guarantee to update every day, though it could be fun to do so...I travelled with Janet 400 km by road from Takaka to Karamea, I learnt of her adventures working in Antarctica and Alaska, and on many of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Apparently it’s gonna be hard to get away with not paying to camp on this one, but I really don’t want to be restricted by dates and locations – that’s why I’m going into the bush! Hmm though, it’s a tourist-dense track. So I do have my doubts, but must remain open-minded, as I always strive to do. I’m so lucky, I get to sleep in a bed tonight, for the first time since Leigh Sawmill Cafe with Hikoikoi about five weeks ago! It’s the first rain I’ve experienced in 2 weeks, I wonder how wet my walk will be. This is looking like being quite an intense trip...

So, I told Janet the story of my romantic confusion. Still I ponder endlessly and flit between intense attraction and cruel confusion at the emotional conundrum I find myself in. I just can’t seem to let it go. It’s so intriguing despite its inherent unhealthiness. Seems Kitty Kat like a riddle. Curiosity killed the...? Is it immature to be wondering such questions as “Is he confused about me too?”, “Is he thinking about all this?”, “Would he try and make contact with me again”, “Does any of this really matter?”. Umm, perhaps I need to shift my focus away from him; though half way through writing that it already felt wrong. I guess I’m following my heart here, fuck knows where it’s taking me, but I can only assume a lesson is in progress.

Just found out I missed him by what must’ve been only hours, unless there’s another Lithuanian who came through this shelter yesterday – so intensely unlikely. Feeling sunken, this walk is tough, my pack is heavy and unbalanced to carry, and now my chance of romantic resolve is gone, it’s probably for the best, since I’ve been wondering how I would deal with the awkwardness of how I would deal with bumping into him on this track. But it’s kinda killed my motivation to walk, and I’ve only covered 8km so far. Damn that boy moves fast. Now it’s just a case of pressing on, I must move forward, but where is my joy and appreciation? How transformed will I be when I reach the other side? Can I make it to Heaphy Hut and find somewhere sly to camp, coz it’s too early to stop here now and be dinner to hundreds of sandflies. Fuck it I can’t believe I so narrowly missed him. Now I’ve got to just get on with it. Psychotherapy of a new kind, is what I imagine this walk to become. Onwards, contemplatively... pushing the limits and boundaries of my physical and spiritual self: this has been the underlying ethos of the last few weeks (although really it’s the undercurrent of life for me, I mean that in particular it’s been full on recently)...

So now as I shelter in my tent on the beach having safely got myself cleansed by the wild West Coast ocean and inside the sandfly-proof mesh, I stretch my muscles and feel the elasticity increase, and I start to reflect on Luminate and my walk today. Firstly... who am I trying to share this with? Anybody other than myself? How much explanation is required here? These are the questions I’m not sure of the answers to. So I seem to keep finding myself riding these huge waves of change, feeling the crash and finding a new way to surf onto a new high, taking in new experiences and cultivating my character always onwards, but I do wonder how far forward I’m actually progressing. So I gave a lot of myself at Luminate: creating the structures for the electronic zone, painting and covering the crop circle, helping with shifting stuff, washing up, tidying, firewood... and I moved myself forward in terms of learning how to enjoy tribal drumming and dancing, and enjoying some new electronic music experiences, namely Opiou and Grouch...

Yet in my putting words to this I feel no further concreting of anything, in fact it almost feels like the opposite, because right now as I look out at the waves crashing against the rocks and the distant glow of sunshine breaking through the clouds and hitting the ocean, I’m going to pause to eat the squishiest banana I possess, and see what meal I can make of it. Okay, yummy food eaten = mushy banana with cinnamon, fruit spice bread, peanut butter, salami, nuts and mung dahl (spicy crunchy sweet mung beans), and a yummy breakfast prepared – soaking oats, nuts, seeds, goji berries and quinoa flakes. Greyness ensues now in the sky outside, perhaps rain will fall tonight. Thankfully I can trust my tent, yay! It must be not even 9pm but I’m thinking soon I’ll go for a pee and then to sleep, it’d be good to get my body clock in tune with the daylight, it’s so nice not wearing my watch, ever since lending it to Iain at the start of Luminate to help him make his sundial – what a blessing it was to be without the clock. Blimey my muscles ache.

Ah yes back to the point I made earlier – the pushing of boundaries. I am coming to understand the pushing of physical and spiritual boundaries go hand in hand. One assists the other. The boundaries of physical (lots of work and lots of dancing) and mental (no sleep) tiredness I put myself through at Luminate were like, hmm how do I turn this to metaphor?! They were tests, like stretching elastic and holding it stretched so much that when you eventually let go, it’s a bit longer than it was to begin with. It doesn’t go back to where it was. So I guess that’s what this walk is about too. It’s been really tough today, my muscles ache and it was such a downer to learn that I have missed my hoped interception of the mysterious Lithuanian riddle man. But now it’s shaping up to be all good... a challenge ahead of me. Time to reflect. Time to progress.

...a somewhat uphill struggle! Actually now that I’m resting and looking back, I feel I’ve done well! Waiting now for the dried pasta meal I bought 2 months ago, to rehydrate! It’s still quite light but kinda dull in my tent, because I’m camped amidst trees. Amazed that I managed to find enough relatively flat and growth-free land to pitch my tent that’s far enough off the track to not be seen yet close enough for it to be easy to get out. The forest is so quiet, this surprises me a lot. There’s the occasional distant bird, a very low hum of insect sound, the odd nearby fly, the flutter of a fantail that just came to check me out. But really, it’s almost eerily quiet. So much better than the campsite that A) I didn’t have the energy to walk to, and B) would’ve had to pay for. The weight of my pack is getting easier to manage, and I’ve just done a steady uphill wind through rainforest for maybe 2 hours. That was tough, especially after seeing another visitor’s book entry by Justas, this time calling himself Peter Pan (yesterday was Winnie de Pooh), Ah the sound of a mosquito now, what joy! So I would like to write a lot more but having light-fading issues!

Food happened, now writing by torchlight. More bird sounds have greeted me – the bellbird and morepork; the mossie is still buzzing around in here. Don’t have much patience for writing words right now, though I have much to share. Sore heat rash between my legs not sure how that’s going to progress. Lots of thoughts of stamina today. Does mental stamina increase alongside physical? I’m sure some of my mental stamina is what’s been making my legs move today! It’s definitely a balance, one makes the other stronger. Well, I managed to get rid of the mosquito, it was trapped near my head between the inner and outer tent, so even though it wasn’t going to bite me, it had to go, it would’ve annoyed me for hours with its singing. I do feel somewhat selfish about this, but I hope nature understands my desire for a good sleep. Which I shall find myself in soon.

Today’s favourite moment has to be the little beach I found on the Heaphy River where I had a dip of massive refreshing loveliness followed by lying in the sun on a log washed up from a time the river was running fast, without getting found out by sandflies for about 5 minutes of naked bliss!

Woke up to pitch black rain, snoozed lots, eventually woke up to daylight rain. I’m gonna wait it out, I do not have to get anywhere today and I’m warm and dry and could do with the rest. The sound of rain on canvass is such a beautiful thing, especially when you know it’s not leaking! I really want a cup of tea but think I should conserve my water supply, so I’m trying to collect a cup of rainwater for it...

Some time later I’m almost finished with the coffee I made, having collected oodles of rainwater I definitely need not worry about dehydration. How classic is it that today of all days is the day I need to poo after 3 days of having not... so there I am, crouching in the rainforest in the rain in my $4 bright yellow rubber jacket, digging a hole with my hands, not once but twice today have I had to do this! The rain is relentless, quite the opposite of the eery quietness I noted last night. I’ve calculated I must’ve walked just over 30km of this 82km track so there’s still a long way to go and it’s hard to resist eating when you’re sitting next to all your food but I’m not hungry so I really need to stop myself because it could be another four days before I’m at a shop. This isn’t survival though, this is just a mini jaunt away from western life, I mean it’s probably less than 2 hours’ walk to the next hut where there’s people and shelter, at a price of course. My challenge is to complete this walk without staying at any of the designated fee-paying campsites or huts, because to me the idea of paying to camp in the bush makes no sense and kind of defeats the object of getting out into nature. Nice as it would be, to have a dry big space and real bed, it kind of seems like cheating. Mind you, what would be a real bush adventure would be to come out with nothing, catch my food and build my shelter. But that’s unrealistic to do, considering how little I know. I’d probably end up pathetically soaked showing up at a hut pleading for assistance. Humility exercise anyone?!’s funny how I keep wondering what time it is, both today as I sit in my tent hiding from the wet outside, and yesterday afternoon as I lugged myself on the ever-winding bush path. It’s today, it’s now, is all that should really matter, but we’re so conditioned to living according to the ticking clock, instead of just how we feel and how the daylight rolls. I don’t know if there’s really anything I can do about that. Shall I look at the time, I could find out if I turn on my phone? I’m guessing it’s around 2pm... Wow! The clock says 11.39am. Incredible, how my sense of time is so warped whilst sitting here in the rain, no point of relativity with which to judge it. This is probably what I needed though; to be forced to just stop. I remembered earlier about the one thing I lost at Luminate... when we were digging the holes for the bamboo legs of the soundshell structure, my Burning Man bracelet popped off, and some playa dust went into the hole; I thought it quite poignant and left the bracelet on the ground, but when I later remembered that I had not picked it up, and went back to find it, it was nowhere to be seen. I can only deduce, strange and implausible as it seems, that it got buried when we filled the holes. This I feel is a beautiful thing, for I know it would not have lasted too long – I mean, it was made from a glowstick, with the insides removed and replaced with playa dust, ashes from the Man and Temple burns, copper wire from the Man’s electrics, and sealed with black tape, copper wire and PVA glue! The beauty of it is that there were moments during Luminate when I recalled moments of Burning Man, I can’t actually remember which moments of Burning Man, other than to say that the feelings of freedom, acceptance, love, joy and open-ness, the times of elation of feeling so connected to myself and my surroundings, these feelings that Burning Man invoked, so too did occur at Luminate. I think of dancing to Grouch’s DJ set in particular (at Luminate on Sat night / 4am Sun morning) which was so deep and juicy and orgasmic and brought to my mind so many of the people so dear to me who were also at Burning Man, as well as feeling like a deep exploration into myself, my own body – all that amazing muscle stretching then dancing with such lightness and energy like never before – and my mind – closing my eyes and visualising travelling through space. Seeing a spiral in the centre of my closed-eye vision and focussing on it, losing myself in that vision and the idea of realities different to the standard one I see with my eyes open, imagining and seeing so much just with my eyes closed and amazing deep-exploratory aural input – then every so often opening my eyes for a split second to add a flash of something different like the view of the magnificent structure above, the lines, lights and smoke, holding with my hands onto the bamboo and twisting and stretching my body into the most yummy spiralling knots and then pushing a little deeper, holding then pushing some more, always feeling totally in tune with the music then uncoiling as the music too uncoiled into a new pattern. Infinite possible ways in which to explore my body and mind with this music and the physical setting.

So now the rain has stopped. There’s still dripping on my tent, from the trees above, I can hear the sound of the wind blowing distant trees, big drips hit the tent as the wind moves to the trees around me. There’s the chatter of birds around me. Perhaps they’re singing because the rain has cleared, they’re celebrating the nourishment it has brought, there’s puddles for them to flutter around in. Perhaps they never stopped singing, but their song had been drowned out by the rain. Should I stay or should I go? Well I don’t feel like moving just yet. Now I shall have my cup of tea... Hooray for portable mini stoves and cups of tea! Why starve myself of this little luxury through fear of lack of authenticity? I’m not an ancient tribal warrior with no knowledge of the joys of tea, so why should I force myself to pretend I’m anything other than a typical English girl who likes her tea? Is that being self-derogatory? Hmm, perhaps, it all depends, on which and what I base my judgements, of myself. It’s all perception anyway, and right now I can find no reason to not enjoy this indulgement that I am blessed with – a cup of hot, organic fair-trade tea in the middle of New Zealand Aotearoa rain forest. How lucky for me!! So much greenery outside: my door is open now that the rain has ceased, though the dripping continues, it’s such a feast for the thirsty forest; how it loves the rain; the green comes even more alive and, and, and, I pause again to contemplate, as I have moved now into rhyme; a lyrical feast which may or may not serve me well to document my time on this trek, this the longest of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ – those walks the tourists comes here for, and the first of which I have embarked upon. In hindsight I think that lugging 20kg would be more worthwhile for new scenery, so much time I have already spent in the New Zealand bush without such a load. But then again perhaps it is good to prepare myself in this way, so that I can take another walk, perhaps down south where the scenery will be so new to me, and I will be able to focus more upon it rather than upon the struggle of the physical effort!

Blimey, I have so much to report since I stopped writing and decided to pack up my stuff and move onwards. Basically, today I actually really got into this experience, from an actual enjoyment point of view, and this is how: When I left last night’s camp spot and rainshelter my aim was to make it to some point between the next two huts. First thing I noticed as I started walking was how ridiculously much easier it felt, the change was shocking = sure I knew it’d get easier with time, but the contrast between yesterday and today has been astounding. I no longer felt like I was struggling to carry my pack, it felt balanced on my body and my legs had the strength to stomp uphill. Amazing! I managed to negotiate a few stream crossings via well placed rocks until I hit one where it was clearly necessary to take off my boots. From that point on I decided to walk barefoot – the windy rainforest path is easy to walk – mud, leaves, soil... gradually the landscape begins to change, there’s a light mist in the air and I realise I’m up in the clouds. Moss covers everything, so much green! Gradually getting higher, shining at the joy of being able to walk without a huge struggle, plus the loveliness of walking barefoot, the path gets brighter as I’m moving out of the rainforest and into tussock-land, sandy pathway and then, a little side path, which leads to a little opening where I stand and see how high up I am, all I can see are hills and plants and driving misty rain, plus these little squiggles in my vision if I stare at the bright light grey sky above. I contemplate how funny it is that this, and the rainforest before, both are landscapes which remind me of times exploring Great Barrier Island exactly one year ago, and I think of the walks I took high up with Andy and the solo mission of cycling and walking... I love these solo missions but you know it does so often seem there’s a boy involved during so many times of great adventuring... both Chris on Waiheke and Andy on Great Barrier, saw me first at the completion of nature adventure exertion physical-boundary-pushing solo joy missions. They caught me in the midst of deep open-ness and connectivity, elation... the same goes for Joel in that respect. And oh yes he has entered my mind on more than one occasion since I started this walk as well. Boys boys boys!

Anyway, so it was only a 5 minute walk from this high point to the Mackay Hut, where I was greeted by a couple of German lads who informed me the next part of the track was waist deep in water when they walked it earlier. I go into the hut to check the map. It’s warm and full of people, who all fall quiet and look at me as if I am wearing a bikini or something. Strange... back outside to contemplate – there’s a warden here so what should I do, would be crazy to move forward if I’ll be confronted with waist deep water. Then Xavier arrives, he’s just come from that direction and let’s me know the water’s only ankle deep. Yes! I continue forward, after telling him of my DOC camp evading ways. The scenery gets more beautiful, amazing alpine mosses, water systems all over the place, I try to guess which bits were waist deep! Elation spreads as I realise how lucky I am and how good this feels. The pathway is stony but so often the sides are lined with moss, it’s like nature’s carpet, feels so good on bare feet! Boardwalks line some of the way, there’s some really boggy areas. The misty rain still falls and it’s beautiful, so nice being alone out here in these conditions, witnessing the late aftermath of the heavy rain. So much beautiful vegetation just on the pathways... bright white and lime green mosses, tiny red flowers, nature is so endlessly creative. I walk through a valley of barren tussock interspersed with giant grey boulders, impossible to describe the random epic-ness of this place! The stones hurt my feet, the mossy edges feel amazing, as do the streams I walk through. I come to a bridge; the track points one way. I drop my bag and head off down another pathway by the stream, walk over some marshiness and head upwards intuiting somewhere to camp. At first I reach higher, drier land but find nothing flat or open, so I go down slightly, across a bit, then up again and hey presto! The perfect spot, incredible; a path where the moss clears, the land is relatively dry underfoot, just big enough and flat enough for my tent to go. I can hardly believe it, it’s so beautiful, out of this whole walk through sodden marshiness and hills, to find this perfect patch, it’s amazing. I am so happy up here. Rain has stopped although the air is still damp because I’m basically in the clouds, but it’s dry for setting up my tent, the twilight (I can’t call it sunset because it’s too cloudy to see the sun) is making everything stand out in such a gloriously coloured way, there’s this amazing white spongey plant growing really near my tent, my god it feels so nice on my hands! And these tiny cute red flowers. Nature today has been amazing, All the colours and moistness of the last hour or so of walking, the greens and pinks and whites and gorgeous alpine mistiness. Yummy! Writing by candlelight I really just had to get that all down, and I haven’t even touched on what thoughts besides just describing what occurred. But no matter, for today had a lot of thought writing at the start of it. I feel I’ve come really far and I’ve actually really enjoyed myself today after pushing on through that struggle yesterday (and the first day!)... glad , so so glad to not be staying at a hut or campsite, this is so much more where I need to be right now. Really excited about what tomorrow holds in store. Oops I wasn’t paying attention and a little hole has melted into my tent mesh above where the candle was sitting. It’s repairable, lesson learned.

Exploring New Zealand’s nature shouldn’t be expensive, and I am so far doing a good job of proving that it doesn’t have to be. Although I guess it’s fair enough that DOC need tourist money to help look after the land and of course maintain the tracks and huts, so yes I admit I am taking advantage of the situation without contributing money, and it does seem that contributing money is such an important part of situations, it’s something I still struggle with the concept of. Can’t get away from money, it’s needed for some things, it can be avoided, but situations always have someone contributing money. I like to think AND do a service / give a value, of myself, instead of money... hey, some say time is money, well yes by that even by the truth I have my time to give, and I wouldn’t necessarily have that if I had money to give, because I’d be somewhere else working to earn the money.

Anyways enough ranting about this endless quandary. Point is it’s about me trying to find a balance and spend/use money as little as possible. Plus actually I’m just really happy to be camping in random places on this track and not having had to decide in advance where to be! It seems like the best way for me, is not like the majority. And that seems to be the case in a lot of what I do. Which can make it difficult sometimes to figure things out, because so often I find my differences cause me self doubt; when other people question me and I know they’d do things differently, it’s hard sometimes to explain why I always seem to want to deviate; I don’t think it’s just to be different – though that’s surely a part of it – I just seem to have different ideas to ‘the norm’ about the best way to enjoy things. And that is fine, so long as I’m not harming anyone... hmm I just remembered where the doubt comes in - it’s when I think other people think I’m doing it wrong or not obeying ‘the rules’... perhaps dating back to fear of being told off as a child? But I’m an adult now and can make my own mind up! Who cares who thinks I’m doing it wrong as long as my intentions are good? Okay, so I guess for maximum integrity I could’ve not used any DOC facilities - taken my water from streams and always gone bush loos - but I took the easy option, coz it was there. Even boiled some water at a hut today to make a cup of tea and Part Two of rehydrating pasta meal, which was super delicious with added chilli, salami, sundried tomato, and apricots (found too in the hut)...THIS made me feel naughty!

I’m not very good with dishonesty, as was proved when I had to find and confess to the owner of multiple bars of ‘Sinless Fair Trade Dark Chocolate’ that I munched my way through one of, the night before leaving Luminate basecamp (Jules and Rita’s place – turned out the choc was Jules’... she responded well, told me it was a gift for all my hard work and praised me for my honesty but MAN did I feel stupid and dishonest!)

I’m pretty much ready for sleep, despite having got so many pieces of thought and the day’s activities to write about... I’ve probably covered 13km today. Oh yeh and it’s Valentines’ Day. Donald Duck was the alibi used by Justas in the Saxon Hut visitor book. Thoughts today included songs by Ten To Never and Glowglobes coming into my head, and the highlight was my ten minute encounter with one of the country’s rare prehistoric giant snails, which reminded me of Olly and our Beechwood bench snail moment. This giant snail seemed relatively happy to be sitting on my hand – taking up my entire palm and raising its front towards me as I put my eyes close to it. Beautiful dark brown shell over 2 inches in diameter! A day of steady niceness through moss covered beech forest and sparse flat-ish downland. Also the eerie section of fragmented rock and cave beech forest that made me think no wonder they filmed Lord of the Rings in this country. So raw with all the massive rock fragments yet so alive that no tree trunk or branch stem wasn’t covered in something green .

Less than 25km left to walk and I’m in no rush whatsoever, it’ll be nice to go exploring the top of Golden Bay when I’m done with this track and feel totally at ease with tramping around and camping wherever I feel like it. I’m so glad I’m doing this finally a big walk! Oh and, I thought of Joel today, wondered about him coming to this country, thought about his eyes, about how I haven’t been with a man since him (except one drunken minutes-long encounter and a few nights snuggling friends) and wondered why. I don’t even think that’s what I wanted from Donald Duck(!)... not sure what I wanted, just know there’s a bizarre physical attraction that renders me shy and childlike and often unaware of what to do about it. I guess all I can really want from him is some honesty about how he really feels instead of all the riddles. I like the riddles though – if you can call them that – good little all-purpose open-to-interpretation quotes: “Don’t have false illusions” and “There is nothing you want to know”. The ponderment continues. Goodnight sweethearts, all of you, I have love for everyone; some people are just extra special to me. Yum (seems to be my new favourite word!)

Lookout Point, maybe 15km from the end of the track, looking out over bush covered mountains, only the tops of them bare rock, I can hear running water in the distance as waterfalls make their ceaseless motions, I can see one in the distance too. Hmm, I thought I’d have more to say right now but I’ve just spent the last ten minutes talking to a fellow walker who was at the lookout when I arrived. I’ve thought about Burning Man a few times walking today, and my dear friends I spent my time there with. I wonder how long before I get to see and play with them again. Such beautiful people around whom I feel so joyous and balanced. So now here I sit alone at a picnic bench in the middle of mountains and I think Blimey!... how lucky I am to be having this experience, enjoying it (even when it’s physically strenuous) and being aware of it all. I note that Donald Duck from Lithuania passed through the last shelter on 9th Feb. I’m amazed how fast he got through this track, although actually it’s not at all surprising, he’s tall and strong. I don’t know if I’ll ever have answers where he’s concerned. Like Olly once told me, there are some questions where the answer will always be ‘maybe’ and the trick is learning to accept it. Ignoring it seems to be what will have to occur, ie. Don’t think about it because what can it achieve? Hmm, we shall see, I don’t think I’m quite ready to ignore this conundrum altogether, although I am happy to report that I feel far less bogged down about it now than 5 days ago!

Later... it was Mickey Mouse actually! I already mentioned Donald Duck! Anyway I’m about to have the cup of tea I’ve been holding off ever since breakfast time. Must be about 7pm? It’s perfect. I’m maybe an hour from the end of the whole track and, having narrowly avoided staying at the last shelter before here (people told me no-one would be there and it would be too steep to camp anywhere between there and the last hut)... well I kept on walking and yes, things were looking steep, I was getting tired and wondering what I’d do. A little way up from where I am now, a bird called me to halt, and I put down my pack and went climbing through the bush in search of some flat, clear ground. I seem to have a certain amount of ‘bush intuition’, I thought to myself. After a few minutes I decided there was nothing to be found, and continued along the track. Just a few bends later I noticed a mini track off to the right. I follow it and Ta Da! The perfect little clearing, an opening with an old bench and a view out to distant mountains; which is where I sit as I write this now. Fantails tweet and water falls in the far distance, I hear other birdsong too and this feels like such a wonderful spot to spend my last night on this track.

So, the thing that occurred to me about my Lithuanian crush, is, well, actually to call it a crush could be the wrong word, because it’s different, I think... I mean, my confusion comes from a few places – one is that I feel an intense ‘something’, some kind of physical, or primal if you like, attraction towards this person yet on emotional, intellectual and conversational levels it’s very awkward. And this is what, I think, attracts me more, in a twisted sort of way, because I do tend to want to pursue relations where there is some sort of unexplainable awkwardness to see what there is to be learnt from them. However, second in my confusion list is his reaction to me; which actually connects to the point I just made as well, and still doesn’t get me any closer to anything resembling resolve. Perhaps my resolve is to be, to be... just to be content with what is: what it is is what it is, yes it’s true I would like to know – intellectually speaking – more about what the ‘what’ that ‘is’, is, but... it aint looking like it’s gonna happen. True there are still ways to make contact (internet) but I don’t think I’ll see him again, which is the mode of contact in which interaction between us should happen. Words don’t seem to work. Communication happens on many levels. Something was communicated to him through my touch, like something was communicated to me through noticing and admiring his physical presence. There’s beauty in that, and love in that.

So... the Heaphy Track, which is laughably named considering Heaphy only covered the coastal part and when doing so was guided by a Maori (the Maori had been exploring the area long before!)... has been a wonderful journey and my favourite bit by far has got to be the 24 hours from waking up in the rain to climbing high and then seeing the bush and mossiness dripping with the moisture, watching streams finding their way, and finding my way to the most beautiful camp spot next to spongey white moss and tiny delicate red flowers, then waking to a sunny day. I can’t say I have massively enjoyed the actual walking and lugging of massive backpack although the strength and physical barrier pushing have been good for me to go through. I LOVED walking barefoot on the moss! And today plunging myself into SUCH cold water: a pool under a little waterfall just when I was needing a cool-down and invigoration boost to aid me on my walk. I do also love the fact that everyone else is doing the track in the other direction, it’s just plain funny if nothing else. I have run out of nothing, eaten some yummy food of which I even feel I’ve had the privilege to be indulging in (chocolate, organic peanut butter, even the ‘Backcountry Cuisine’ tomato pasta meal), drunk tea, coffee and hot chocolate in the middle of nature miles from any town and all without the use of DOC huts (well, except for that one cheeky water-boiling incident) or paying camp fees. SO much nicer to do it this way even if money wasn’t an issue – but I’m glad it was because it made sure I did it this way.

This time in a week I’ll be in Christchurch on the eve of Mum arriving. YAY I am so lucky and happy to be alive and experiencing this and ringing every last drop of enjoyment I possibly can out of everything I encounter.


If you're reading this - WELL DONE for making it to the end of that marathon. Blimey that took hours to type up! Um...and it is now half a week since Mum went BACK to England, we had a great time, but I won't write any more just yet, i think we all need a rest.

Love to you as always