Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kiwi Quest 2010 - Hiking Day 4

I feel sorry for the two old English guys who shared our hut at Green Lake last night. First of all, some of us were snickering at their farts (luckily, I think they were already asleep), part of our group also snores, and we generate a lot of noise when 10 of us are getting up early, making breakfast, and repacking bags, all in the same big room.
Photos: 1) Sign at the beach to entertain my mother, 2) sunset view from the beach holiday crib that we stayed in, 3) Oi! Scary (normal) hair day in the Catlins, 4) waist-high grasses (and unseen bog) that we tramped through on our way out from Green Lake.

Another funny thing happened at the Green Lake Hut in the night: there were 6 mattresses to sleep on up on the top row of bunks (picture the bunks, top and bottom, as one long continuous stretch of wood with 6 mattresses on each layer), and 6 of us sleeping up there, but somehow during the night, 5 of us shifted down toward Louise until Jane woke up in the morning and discovered an entirely empty mattress between herself and the rest of us. No wonder I kept waking after bumping into people in my sleep! Poor Louise on the end of the squishy section ended up sleeping with her leg on the window sill for more space. Sean kicked me a few times in the night too. That'll be the last time I sleep beside him. He also told me later that he'd been reaching for my head torch in the night, and had accidently grabbed my big toe. When he reached again in a different direction, he grabbed my other big toe and quickly gave up. We both thought this was hysterical and I still have no idea how I slept through the whole thing.

I woke in a bit of a panic on this morning. Sophie was up before us as usual, and had started her little burner to heat water for hot drinks, but from my vantage point and half-delirious-with-lack-of-quality-sleep state, all I saw when I opened my eyes was the reflection of flames dancing on the wall across the hut. I sat bolt upright, thinking the hut was on fire, but thankfully, I was dead wrong. It's way too early in the morning for false alarms....

Eventually, we got ourselves ready and hoisted our packs to hike out to the truck, about 3 hours away. It was very misty and cloudy over the lake this morning, so we quickly bid a not-very-fond farewell to the sandflies and took off. Most of the hike out was fairly uneventful, but we did have to mash our way through some pretty muddy bog a couple of times. I don't mind mud, even when hiking. My gaiters that I had borrowed from my parents helped a lot too, both with water/mud-proofing my feet, and mostly protecting my lower legs from evil spaniards and scratchy bushes. At one point I was happily stomping through some particularly muddy bog when suddenly my right lower leg disappeared into the mud up to my knee! My momentum and big pack kept me lurching forward, but I managed not to faceplant and slowly hauled my lower extremity back to the surface.

After washing our boots and gaiters in a freezing cold but beautifully clear stream, it was time to drive to Invercargill briefly for groceries and postcards, and to bid an early farewell to Bob who was putting up with a very painful back problem. For those who care, Invercargill is the southernmost town in New Zealand, and nearly the southernmost point in the country too. It has a lot of Scottish influence, and Kirsten was able to provide the Orkney viewpoint on that immigration.

Heading out to the Catlins part of the South Island (time for Google maps or an old-fashioned atlas), we found our "holiday" beach house in Curio Bay. It was a gorgeous location, up on a bit of a bluff above a massively long beach, although the house itself smelled like old people. Sorry, old people, but it really did. At least we had access to showers again! And a full kitchen too that we didn't have to share with anyone or any sandflies. I spent some quiet moments down on the beach by myself, listening to the surf and watching the waves along with the weird little crabs that jumped around. I pitched one of our tents in the yard for the night, thinking the surf would help me sleep better than sharing a room with two girls, but alas, it was a crappy night. Oh well, at least the scenery was awesome! Too bad the sheep across the road didn't want to come over to the fence and visit...

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