Bush wisdom (Day 71)

In the midst of the forest
Trees toppled
Amongst the others
Across the river
Across the path
Strewn here and there
In all directions

Walkers walk on
Over
Around
Or under
Part of their
Their journey

Life continues to
Sprout
Around
Old and rotting stumps

The river finds
Its way down
Over
Around
Or under
Rocks     boulders
Tree trunks

Streaming through
Waterfalls
Swirls, eddies
Seemingly still pools
Continuing
Its path
Of least resistance
Home

Considering final weeks (Day 69)

Suddenly we are facing
Decisions and choices
Different priorities
Wishes
Dreams
Practicalities
Bubble or spring
To the surface

Time that seemed endless
Suddenly doesn’t anymore
We can’t do it all
To the end point

No regrets
About choices made
Pace taken
Route walked
Can we
Do the same
For the remainder
Of the journey?

Methven – rest, resupply and preparation (Day 56)

Transport arranged
To start the next
Five day section
After the Rakaia River
Which has changed
From a picturesque
Alluvial blue
Braided river
Into a bank to bank
Muddy grey
Swirling
Fast moving lake
Showing the reality
Of the track-notes warning
Not to cross
This river
It changes
Very fast
After rain

Sister picked up
From Christchurch
She’s ready
For her adventure
With us

You’d think
We would be
Getting good at this
Business of preparing
For another section
By now
Yet somehow
The final shopping
Unpacking
Distribution
And repacking
Of supplies
Now for
One added person
Still becomes
A busy mid-night
Affair
So we will be ready
For our shuttle
Pick-up
At 7.30 am

Eat your heart out
Jet lag girl!

Our little group expands (Day 56)

The day has come that
Rixt will join us walkers
For a week

All goes according to
The final version
Of our much anticipated
And adapted plan

Driving the rental car
A strangely familiar experience
After nearly two months
Of not missing it

The reunion in Christchurch
Warm and happy
She’s got the gear
Enthusiasm for ten
And done her training

We now wonder
How jet lag
The terrain
Our fitness
From nearly
Two months on the trail
And the new group dynamics
Will combine..

Lake Coleridge Village (Day 54)

Lake Coleridge Village
Population: 20
No shop
No garage or petrol station
The Lodge
Is closed for business
And does not like
Smelly TA walkers
They lower the tone
Of the establishment

Powerline workers
Give directions and a taste of
What’s to come
“If not sure, ask Janet,
She knows everything”

Arriving at our B & B
Three hours early
And wet
from a few hours of rain
We experience the generosity
And gossip
Of rural NZ

The B & B
A very welcome
And welcoming repose
Beautiful rooms
Fluffy white towels
Crispy clean sheets
A scrumptious meal
Even some wine
As part of the deal

And then we are
Regaled for hours
With stories
The good and the bad,
And the why of both,
About Janet and Hugh
And most of the other
Inhabitants
Of this tiny
Settlement

Lake Coleridge (Day 54)

Getting a lift
From a farm hand
Saves walking twelve kilometers
On a long and dusty road
To reach the start
Of the trail
Alongside Lake Coleridge.

The wind still in full force
From the night before
Bracing
Refreshing

The lake is an experience
The main body intensely blue
White storm heads
A striking beautiful contrast

On the edge of a quiet
Swampy part
A white heron flies up
From the reeds
Its white body lit up
Against the blue sky

Our walk a veritable battle
Against the force of the wind
Coleridge has more to offer
A sandbar halfway up the lake
Creates a resting place
For birds
And a spectacle of
Colour variations
In the water

What a treat
Alll round

What a night (Day 53/54)

Camping in a basin near Lake Coleridge and surrounded by mountains, we are treated to ferocious weather throughout the night.

What a night

Lying in a tent
I listen
To the sharp sound
Of raindrops
Changing to sheets
Of water
Bucketing down

I touch
The fabric above
And around me:
Seems to be
Holding out

An occasional flash
And rumble
Becomes a five-hour
Light and sound
Spectacle

Thunder with
Multiple sound effects
In all directions
Splitting
Going two ways
At once
Rumbling one way
Echoing off mountain tops
Rolling back
The other way
Through valleys
Around and back again
The ground shuddering
At times

Lightning
The sleeping bag
Covering closed eyes
Offers no protection

Fascinated
And acutely aware
Of our fragility
Amongst the immense
Power
Being unleashed
Around us tiny figures
In our little tents

I count the seconds
Between light
And sound
It comes closer and closer
Over the hours
Stopping at 4 kilometers
Whew

Cows lowing
On the hillsides
Movements and sounds
Next door
A creaking sleeping mat
The swish of a zip
Opening and closing
The only evidence
Of wakefulness
In this wild night

Finally the thunderstorm spent
I doze off
Only to be woken again
With a start
By loud crackling
Flapping  and shaking
Of my tent
In a gale force storm
Tent poles moving as much
As the guy ropes
Will give

No more rain
Thankfully
But will the ground
Hold on to my little pegs?
Eventually the need to
Check and adjust
The guy ropes
Becomes greater than
My anxiety
To brave the elements

When the storm abates
At last
There’s message
In the colour of the sky:
It’s time
To get up

Spooked at Hope Halfway Hut (Day 44)

Just Sarah and I
At Hope Halfway Hut
Some boots
Left behind
A jacket and sleeping bag…
Is someone coming back
To collect them
Or return
To stay the night?

The door does not shut
So a boulder is found
To do the job

I’m woken in the night
By a rattle
And other noises
At the door
And at the outside corner
Of the hut

Someone trying
To get in?
But no voices
No light through
The window
No other sounds
Just another rattle
Every now and again
And shuffling
At the corner outside

I keep as still as possible
Sarah fast asleep
I don’t want to wake her
For fear of
Alerting whoever
Is outside
That someone
Is inside

Finally morning
Arrives
And the hut
Seems like any other
Once again
With no evidence
Of any unwelcome
Or even unexpected
Visitors
In the night

Daylight and
Another day’s walk
A welcome
Relief

Being here now (Any day)

Look and listen
Enjoy
So much to take in
Soak up
Marvel in wonder
And awe

Infinite variety and beauty
In this
Our world

Of mountains near and far
The sky
A river winding its way
Like a ribbon
Through the landscape
Under our feet
Or in the distance below

Of trees
Flowers
Birds
River stones
Colours
Patterns
So much to see

Temptation to look ahead
Is strong

No need to know
Whether we go up
Or round
This hill
Or that mountain
Our feet and the next
Marker
Will take us
There